“But He replied to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are those who hear and do the word of God.” (Luke 8:21)
Jesus grew up in a family, just as most of us did. He was nurtured by a mom and dad in much the same fashion as we were. He grew up with brothers and sisters. That was His awareness of life in His younger childhood years, at least until the Father revealed to Him that He was His Son rather than Joseph’s. We know that Jesus had this awareness certainly no later than age 12 and probably much earlier. Still, the point is that He grew up in a family setting.
Through the 18 years following the events of His 12th year, Jesus continued as part of His family, while moving steadily toward the time of His public revelation and the launch of His public ministry. At that point, His heavenly priorities came to the forefront, and Jesus became the leader of a much larger “family,” those who “hear and do the will of God.”
Mary and her four other sons went to see Jesus one day. Their intent (not stated in Luke’s gospel but elsewhere) was to take Him home to Nazareth. That is when Jesus made this statement about His true family, those who hear and do the will of God. James was one of the brothers there, one who heard these words as reported.
James had to have recoiled at this. He undoubtedly saw Jesus as irresponsible, and even crazy at that point, out of control. He also developed a cynical view of Jesus, evidenced in John 5, with an almost derisive attitude. From his view, his older brother was rejecting the role of the firstborn and household responsibilities and the family business in order to pursue this crazy itinerant preaching thing. The next few years passed, and then came the crucifixion. But it was in seeing the resurrected Jesus that James finally came to understand. The Scripture does not record that appearance, but Paul refers to it specifically in 1 Corinthians 15.
This is the same James who later became the leader of the Jerusalem church after Peter’s departure, and the one who went on to write, “Do not be hearers of the word only; do what it says.” Sound familiar? It seems that James’ understanding of family was expanded once he came to a more complete understanding that we who are Christians are part of a much larger family. This family, our heavenly family, is an eternal priority. That in no way diminishes our responsibility and role for our earthly families, but it does serve to help us understand the calling we have as Christians to be part of a larger family.
Lord, Help us today to be the kind of family members who glorify You. Amen.