Pastor Scott L. Harris
Faith Bible Church, NY
October 3, 1993
Jesus Christ Our Brother
How would you respond if you could pick your family? If you could select who
would be your brothers and sisters? If you could choose who would be your
relatives? Many of you would pass on the idea because you love your family just
the way it is, but I know others of you would jump at that idea. You look at a
family picture viewing your siblings as people you got "stuck" being related to.
You would think it would be wonderful to exchange them for someone else.
This morning as we continue our study of the Gospel according to Matthew, we
are going to see something that is absolutely mind boggling when you think about
it. We can be related to people that are loving, kind, good, patient, gentle,
and joyful. People with the character traits we would like to have in our
brothers and sisters. God will allow us to choose our family. If we are willing,
we can have Jesus Christ as our brother, which would also make us the adopted
sons and daughters of God.
Turn to Matthew 12:46, our passage for this morning’s study begins with:
A Family’s Concern
"While He was still speaking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and
brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. And someone said to
Him, ‘Behold, your mother and your brothers are standing outside seeking to
speak to You.’"
Matthew 12:46 tells us that Jesus was still busy talking to the multitudes of
people that had gathered around Him inside a house. Notice that Jesus’ mother
and brothers were "outside." Mark 3:20 tells us that Jesus had "come into a
house, and the multitude gathered again, to such an extent that they (Jesus
and the Apostles) could not even eat a meal." It was quite a crowd that
had gathered around Jesus, so much so that Jesus’ family could not reach Him.
Instead, they had to send a message to Him by word of mouth letting Him know
they were outside and would like to see Him.
The question immediately comes up, "Why did they want to see Him? What did
they want to talk with Him about?" The specific answer to those questions might
be somewhat speculative, but we can get a general sense of their purpose by
looking at what had been going on and what Mark’s account has to say.
First of all, remember that there has been quite a battle going on between
Jesus and the religious leaders. They had been accusing Jesus and His disciples
of breaking God’s laws. In truth Jesus had only broken their legalistic
traditions, and was in fact, in complete accord with the Mosaic Law in
everything that He did – and Jesus told them so. This only caused the Scribes
and Pharisees to increase in their hatred for Jesus. When Jesus healed the man
with the withered hand on the Sabbath – against the tradition of the Pharisees -
they became so incensed they began plotting to kill him
When Jesus cast out the demon and healed the man who was blind and mute, the
Scribes and Pharisees began to tell the people that Jesus was doing His miracles
by the power of the devil (Matthew
The Unforgivable Sin)
Jesus sternly rebuked them for this false accusation
What Sign Are You Looking For?)
but the accusation was still being made.
Remember that the Scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of the
people. The people looked up to them as the authorities on what was and was not
from God, so their accusation – though false – still swayed many of the people.
Add to it that the people themselves did not understand the Scriptures as they
should have and they were confused by all that Jesus was doing, and especially
by His claim to be the Son of God. How could a man be God? How could God become
a man? And who would dare confront the Scribes and Pharisees in such a manner?
The result of all this we find in Mark 3:21 is that some of the people began to
say that Jesus had lost His senses. There is even some indication in that text
that Jesus’ family might have been thinking the same thing.
Now that may surprise you, but remember that Jesus’ brothers did not believe
that He was the Messiah until after His death, burial, and resurrection. John
7:5 tells us plainly that, "not even His brothers were believing in Him."
Now as a footnote here, I should also point out for those of you raised in
Roman Catholicism that Jesus did have blood brothers and sisters. Roman Catholic
doctrine has attempted to elevate Mary to a god-like stature, and one of the
ways it has done so is claim that Jesus was her only child and that she remained
a virgin all her life. The truth is that Mary and Joseph had children “ half
brothers and half sisters to Jesus. In fact in Matthew 13:55, we are even told
the name of Jesus’ half brothers. "Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not
His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these
I think it is safe to say that it was out of a concern for Jesus that His
mother, Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, have come to see
Him. In some manner they want to rescue Him from the cruelty of the crowd and
the plot to kill Him. Perhaps they wanted to persuade Him to flee to a safe
place or come home with them until the religious leaders forgot about him or
But Jesus does not need rescuing, does He? Jesus uses this opportunity to
teach an important truth. Jesus has a family related by blood, but He also has
A Greater Family
Matthew 12:48 "But He answered the one who was telling Him and said, ‘Who
is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And stretching out His hand toward His
disciples, He said, ‘Behold, My mother and My brothers!’"
By asking and answering this question, Jesus demonstrates that spiritual ties
are more important than blood ties. Jesus was not renouncing His physical family
in anyway. He loved them much more than they loved Him – and even on the cross
He carried out His responsibility to His mother as the oldest son in providing
for her by directing the Apostle John to care for Mary
(John 19:26, 27).
It is through Jesus’ continual love that we find that His half brothers
eventually come to believe in Him as their Lord and Savior. We find Mary, His
mother, and His brothers in Acts 1:14 as part of the assembly in the Upper Room
after His ascension to Heaven devoting themselves to prayer while they waited
for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus loves His family and found the blood ties to be important, but here He
teaches that a blood related family is not nearly as important as a spiritually
related family. Eternity in heaven is not gained through blood ties. If you
think you will make it to heaven because of your parents or your children or
your siblings or anyone else who is a fine Christian, then think again. The
Jewish leaders of that time thought they merited heaven simply because they were
descendants of Abraham – and they were wrong. Here we find that even Jesus’
blood relatives are not part of His spiritual family until they come to Him
personally and place their faith and trust in Him as the Messiah.
We find here an invitation to everyone to become part of Jesus’ family, but
there are qualifications that must be met to become His spiritual relative.
A Relative’s Qualifications
Notice first in verse 49 that Jesus did not refer to the whole crowd as "His
mother and His brothers", but only to the disciples. In verse 50 Jesus
elaborates on this saying, "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in
heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother."
Again, the call to salvation is universal as we see here it is "whoever
does." It is not limited by race or sex or position. The invitation is made to
all, but only a few meet the invitation’s requirements and are Jesus’ "brother
and sister and mother."
What are those requirements? As stated here, it is "whoever does the will of
My Father who is in Heaven." Jesus adds in the parallel passage in Luke 8:21,
"My mother and My brothers are these who hear the Word of God and do it."
Now you say, "wait a minute, that sounds like works to me and salvation is by
grace." That is true, for Ephesians 2:1-10 tells us that plainly. You do not and
cannot earn your way to heaven. You cannot make yourself meritorious enough to
become Jesus’ spiritual relative.
What then does Jesus mean? What does it mean to do the will of God? Turn to
John 6:28, 29. Here we find Jesus being questioned by the multitude about what
they should do to "work the works of God" and gain eternal life. "Jesus answered
and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has
sent.’" Faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah sent from God is the will of God
and is part of your response to the working of the Holy Spirit on your soul in
which you do the will of God. Is that a "work?" Yes, in the sense that you did
something, you responded to the working of the Holy Spirit in your life. To
believe in Jesus requires a recognition and repentance from your sin and a
turning your faith to Him alone for salvation from your sin, BUT "NO" it is not
a work in the sense that you earned anything. All you have done is obeyed God’s
command – that is only what should be expected, not the basis of a reward.
Sometimes we want to emphasize the "free" nature of salvation so much that we
fail to also mention that there are qualifications God places on those who will
receive His gift of eternal life. We can become so paranoid of "works" in
relation to salvation that we forget that God does give commands and make
demands upon those who will partake of eternal life. Some may think that
heretical, but it is the clear teaching of the Scriptures. I find it strange
that those who emphasize grace to such an extreme that salvation is reduced to
something that requires no change of life lest there be some "work" involved,
those same people will invariably point to some "work" to prove a person is
saved – They "walked the aisle," they "raised their hand," they "prayed a
prayer," they "asked Jesus into their heart," they were "baptized."
Let’s be clear, salvation is God’s gift and He grants it to whom He desires
according to whatever conditions He wants to set up. That God places conditions
upon those who will accept His offer of eternal life in no way changes that gift
from being one of grace to one of works.
The fact that He gives it demonstrates His grace and mercy for we deserve
eternal punishment, not eternal life with Him. The fact that we cannot meet
God’s conditions without His empowering us to do so demonstrates that it is not
our work, it is not something we can earn. All we can do is respond.
Jesus says that those who are in His spiritual family are those who "do the
will of God," those who "hear the Word of God and obey it." We have already seen
in John 6:29 that the will of God is to "believe in Jesus whom God has sent."
What else is the will of God? What are some of the other marks of those that are
Jesus’ brothers or sisters?
In the book of Matthew alone, we find among others the following directives
indicating the will of God: In Matthew 4:17 we find that Jesus’ message was to,
"Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." In Matthew 5 we have the
nature of true righteousness expressed in the characteristics of those who are
part of God’s kingdom including among other traits, "Blessed are the poor in
spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," "Blessed are the peacemakers, for
they shall be called sons of God," "Blessed are those who have been persecuted
for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew
10:32 tells, "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also
confess him before My Father who is in heaven," and in the next verses Jesus
tells us that those who deny Him will be denied by Him. In Matthew 11:20-30, we
find that we are to take upon ourselves the yoke of Christ and learn of Him for
in that we shall find rest for our souls. Matthew 18:1 tells us we must come to
Jesus with the same humble and trusting spirit a little child has if we are to
enter into His kingdom. Matthew 22:37, 38 quotes Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 telling us
to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Matthew 24:42-44 tells
us to be on the alert for His return.
Other books add to this. "Repent and be baptized" in Acts 2:38; "Believe in
the Lord Jesus" (Acts 16:31),
"For there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which
we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
We are to "present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices to the Lord – not
being conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds
(Romans 12:1, 2).
We are to use our spiritual gifts
(Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 14; Ephesians 4),
display the fruits of the spirit
(Galatians 5); live with the love of 1
Corinthians 13 controlling us; be separate from the world, i.e., in it but not
of it (2 Corinthians 6);
have the humility of Jesus Christ
(Philippians 2); set our minds on things
above, not on the things that are on earth by considering our bodies as dead to
immorality, impurity, passion, evil, desire, and greed – putting aside all
anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from our mouths
and instead speak the truth in love, saying what is
good for building up a person in their walk with Christ
We are to approach the throne of grace and be those that pray without ceasing
(1 Thessalonians 5; Hebrews 4).
We are to be those who "lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily
entangles us, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our
eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith . . . "
(Hebrews 12:1, 2).
The Scriptures state that all these things are the will of God, and Jesus
says in our passage that the person doing such things will be His brothers and
sisters. But you say, "WAIT A MINUTE! I CAN’T DO ALL THAT. THAT WOULD REQUIRE ME
TO BE A DIFFERENT PERSON THAN WHO I AM." You’re exactly right, that would
require you to be a different person from who you may be right now. It does
require a complete change of lifestyle, from one bent towards sin and
selfishness to one of holiness centered in God’s will, not your own.
Now you say, "BUT I THOUGHT GOD ACCEPTED ME JUST THE WAY I AM NOW." No, God
does not accept you the way you are now if you are living in sin. Now God does
love you despite your sinfulness, but take note that God requires you to repent
and become obedient to Him, and that is true love. The idea that love is
accepting of sinfulness without a desire and effort to direct that person to
holiness is a lie from the pit of hell. Of late, the evangelical, fundamental
church – of which we are a part – has been accused a lot by the media of being
hateful to different groups because we will not "accept their lifestyle." The
true church will never "accept" such things as "pre-marital sex," "open
marriages," "homosexuality" and other sexual perversions that are becoming so
commonplace in our society. But it is the true Church, the body of Jesus Christ
that truly loves each person involved in those activities. Why? Because we
desire to see them repent and live according to God’s will. You would have to
hate a person to leave them in those depraved lifestyles with all the diseases
and psychological damage they cause in this life and condemnation to eternal
Hell in the next.
God truly loves us and what He is seeking in us is a radical change, and it
is God’s grace that makes that change in us. God does not save us because we
change, but saves us so that we will change. It is the Holy Spirit that does all
the work that makes us change, but from the human viewpoint unless we respond to
the Holy Spirit’s work in repentance and obedience, we will never meet God’s
condition for salvation. That is what regeneration is all about, and that is
what Jesus is talking about here. A person dead in trespasses and sin is made
alive together with Christ because of God’s rich mercy and great love from which
His grace has been extended to save sinners. It is a radical change of
relationship in which our blood relationships are no longer the strongest ties,
but instead our spiritual relationships as part of God’s family. We are adopted
into God’s family and made brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
A Blessed Adoption
Have you considered the blessing of being adopted into God’s family? Look at
Ephesians 1:3f, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ;
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be
holy and blameless before Him; In love He predestined us to adoption as sons
through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of his will, to
the praise of the glory of his grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the
Beloved: in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our
trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which He lavished upon us."
Before this Earth was even created God chose us and predestined us to be adopted
into His family as His sons through Jesus Christ – and all of it because of His
goodness, kindness, and grace. None of it was because we in any way deserved or
merited such favor. That is supreme love.
Turn to Romans 8:12-17 and see further the blessing of being adopted. "So
then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to
the flesh- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by
the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all
who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not
received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a
spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ (Abba means,
"Daddy"). The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are
children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with
Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with
Notice again the emphasis here that the true adopted children of God are
those that are yielding themselves – obedient – to the Holy Spirit, but note as
well the wonderful truth that as adopted children of God we are joint heirs with
Jesus Christ. I love the way the Apostle John expresses his joy over this fact
in 1 John 3:1, "See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we
should be called children of God; and such we are!"
What is our inheritance as joint heirs with Jesus Christ? Salvation
Eternal life (Matthew 19:29),
an interest in the kingdom of God
(Matthew 25:34), an imperishable body
(1 Corinthians 15:50-54),
the promises of God (Hebrews 6:12),
God’s blessing (1 Peter 3:9),
and a place in heaven where God Himself will comfort us and provide for us
What wonderful promises, what a glorious adoption to be the child of God, a
brother or sister of the Lord Jesus Christ. But how was this adoption brought
about? As we have already seen in so many of the Scriptures read this morning -
it comes through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. Have you been redeemed
from your bondage to sin by the shed blood of the Savior? If so, then rejoice
for then you are an adopted child of God, a joint heir with Jesus. If not, then
today is the day of salvation. Seek the Lord while He may be found. In the
quietness of your own heart, confess your sin to God and ask Him to forgive you.
Tell Him you do not want to control your life any more and ask God to send the
Holy Spirit to change your heart and lead you.