There are certain Scripture verses that some Christians tend to shy away from, they do not see them as “Christ-like,” even though it was our Lord that spoke them, they do not fit into the prescribed ideology of what they want our Lord to be. These are usually skipped over, read within the context but not delved into, and whatever the verse, it is rarely close enough when explained to those that will not hear to be of the value to them that it was intended for. There are as many of these types of verses as there are religious organizations, and they are not only the main reason for all these interpretations, but can cause some to not follow Him as they are supposed to, they are the stumbling blocks.
Today I would like to look at one of these that has since it was penned caused many to stumble, for it can require the abandonment of those that we hold most dear to us. In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus is speaking to the people, apparently inside a structure, because His mother and brethren “stood without, desiring to speak with Him.” They had been looking for Him, had found where He was, but could not approach close enough to get His attention because of the amount of people around Him, and so they asked someone to go and tell Him that they were there and would like to have a word with Him. His reply to the messenger? “And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!”
Those who do not like to think of our Lord as one who replied to the man “Let the dead bury the dead” (Luke 9:60), who took the time to make a whip before He entered the temple (John 2:15), who spoke the words “how long must I suffer you people” (Matt. 17:17) are the ones who will spend their lives trying to make what our Lord said here in Matthew 12 into something that makes Him seem a little more compassionate, a little more understanding, “Why, that’s His mother out there.” They will search diligently to try to make this verse and others like it not to sound rude, offensive or uncaring, Jesus would never say anything like that about His own mother, there must be a hidden meaning or a misrepresentation in these verses. These will imagine our Lord saying in verse 50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother,” and then immediately jumping up and excusing Himself because moms outside and she wants to talk to me, “You know how it is folks, she’s my mother, I’ll be right back and we’ll continue.” And that verse about hating mother, brother, father (Luke 14:26) well, that just means “love less than,” everybody knows that, Jesus would never tell us to hate anybody, much less not jump when mom calls.
How would it have appeared to those listening to Christ if after He said verse 50 He would have done that, told them all that those who do the will of the Father were his brother, sister and mother, and then just got up and left to see what His mother wanted, a little hypocritical, wouldn’t you think? If you look at Matthew 13:1, you can see that He sat there for a while yet, that there was more that He spoke to these people about, that there was a great multitude gathered around, and those who were doing the will of the Father were His family. Verses like these are very difficult for some people, it does not allow Christ to be who He is in their minds, and so they will dream up entire scenarios to try to make Him fit into their ideology of what a Messiah should be, instead of who He is. There are religious organizations that have built a majority of their false faith upon Mary worship, actually making her co-equal to Christ in many ways, therefore equal to God, for Jesus is God, as is the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7), heresy in the highest.
This false interpretation of where our loyalties are to be placed is not new, but it will not seem to die in some, they tend to place a higher value on the relationships within their own family even if those in it are not saved, above those who are truly their brothers and sisters in Christ. They love mom more even though she is an unrepentant sinner, than they do the woman down the street who is on her knees every morning giving God the glory, they will give their brother a ride to the liquor store to buy alcohol because he lost his license, but they will not phone the one down the street that attends church with them to see if he has a need for any prayers that week. “I don’t know how you can say that, it was Jesus’ mother!” I didn’t say it my friends, your Lord did, and He always meant what He said, those who do the will of God are your family, those who do not, those who do not know Christ as Savior, are not your family.
There is something that we must understand here, when you place the needs of those that you call family, those that are not saved by grace thru faith, above the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you are going against the will of God, and that is never a good thing. Do you suppose the One who said these words is going to listen to any of your rationalizations, do you believe that He is going to say, “Oh, that’s alright, even though I told you differently, don’t worry about it, after all it’s your mother, right?” If you do you’re wrong. Use a little reverse thinking here if you will, what if you do what the Lord says, what if you begin to treat your brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that shows your unsaved family members that those who are in Christ are truly your family, think of the impact on them when they came to the realization of the truth of your faith. One of two things will happen, they will either be drawn to you, and ultimately to Christ, or they will hate you, and since they are of the world, if this second possibility occurs, you would expect to be hated, for they hated Christ first (John 15:18).
I know you love them; I have immediate family members that are close to my heart also, but not as close as my brothers and sisters in Christ, they are my true family. This can be one of the most difficult ways for the follower of Christ to express the reality of his faith, for what we are speaking of is in a sense those whom you have spent the majority of your life around, those who knew you as an infant, a child, a young person, but who are now supposed to see you as a servant of the Most High God, no longer their son or daughter, but now a child of God. My friends, you are to honor your mother and father in the Lord (Col. 3:20), but you cannot serve two masters, you have a Father in Heaven now, and you are to be following His Son.
Either you will do this, or you won’t, the choice is yours, but if those in your immediate family are not saved, then you know full well which one you are to obey, of this there is no doubt. If you are married, you have been commanded to leave your father and mother and cling to your spouse (Eph. 5:31), if you are saved by the grace of God and your parents, sisters, or brothers are not, then they are no longer your family. Pray for them, witness to them both in actions and words, but do not place them above your brothers and sisters in Christ, much less your Heavenly Father.