I don’t know anyone famous. If I did, I’d hope to have insider access to this individual every now and then.
If this hypothetical famed individual was my brother, I would expect unique, insider access.
If my famous brother were to not acknowledge me in front of others, I’d be hurt.
If he then went on to acknowledge someone else (whom I’ve never met) as his brother instead, I’d be outraged.
Jesus’ family, ousted!
Such a story is told in Matthew 12:46-50
“While [Jesus] was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
I’ve recently preached on this bizarre story. So I was forced to reckon with Jesus’ seemingly low regard for his biological family.
Free family for all!
In that moment, Jesus’ radical gesture toward his disciples was, in fact, not to insult his mother but to demonstrate something profound about the family of God.
No one has unique, insider access to Jesus (not even his mom). And, while perhaps a jolt to his biological brothers and sisters, this is great news for the rest of the world.
Since Jesus’ genetic heritage ended with his ascension, there would be little to unite us to him in as profound a way as a familial bond.
But in this gesture, he demonstrates, “Through my shed blood anyone can be my true brother and sister and mother.”
Perhaps that is why Paul writes in Ephesians 1:5, “You were predestined for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”
Without Jesus’ gesture toward his disciples declaring, “I am not ashamed to call you brothers” (Hebrews 2:11), our adoption into the family of God was impossible.
Missional family is an expanding heritage
As we take our cues from Jesus, practicing the family rhythms, Jesus’ heritage will keep growing.
That means a paradigm shift must occur. An increasing realization of the family of God will cause you to missionally declare brotherhood with those whom you would rather not associate.
That means treating your neighbors like family, sharing meals and stories. Providing for needs, loving their children, and introducing them to the most wonderful Elder Brother, Jesus.