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And His mother and His brothers came, and standing outside they sent to Him and called Him. And a crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to him, “Your mother and Your brothers are outside, seeking You.” And He answered them, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Closer than Family
Several years ago, another pastor and I often had lunch together. Both his wife and mine worked in offices and so we were alone and liked each other’s company so this was a natural thing for us to share this hour as I said, 2-3 times a week. He was not a Lutheran but AOG and very much a gospel-centered pastor. We found out that we agreed much more than we disagreed and on some issues, I won him over, especially on our doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. A real change for him!
One week the newspaper stated that his denomination was holding a convention in our town and his brother was also a pastor of that same denomination and would be coming. So I said to him, “Well Bob, I won’t be seeing anything of you this week because of the convention. Besides that, your brother will be here.” He said, “Brother Lin, I love my brother very much, but you are closer to me than he is.”
And I find this is something that is in our Text. Jesus undoubtedly loved His family very much. In our Lesson, the town’s people were after Him. They had been stirred up by the leadership of Jerusalem. We read from our lesson: “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons He casts out the demons.”
Our text takes place just after Jesus shot down their charges using their own logic. It is where He said (which inspired Abraham Lincoln to say) “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
And His mother and His brothers came, and standing outside they sent to Him and called Him.
I have to say, I cannot imagine my mother or my siblings doing that- interrupting one of my sermons. Yet I know that has happened, not by family members but by some members of the congregation. In Texas I had two women storm out of the congregation because they knew that their self-righteousness had been exposed! In California, there was a woman who told me ahead of time that is what she did to show her disproval of the sermon. And she did that a number of times. But worse of all was what the Russian-Germans did in Oklahoma. I was told that the last time before the church split, an elder jumped in and preached for 45 minutes about how wrong the pastor’s sermon was. That was 50 years before I became their pastor — thankfully these people had died off!
And a crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are outside, seeking You.” And He answered them, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus, instead of dropping everything, shows us two things. #1. The bond we have as Christians, but more specifically, as a congregation is — or at least it is supposed to be — very tight, very warm, very personal. #2. Borrowing from the Martha/Mary episode, the teaching of the Word, gathering around Jesus is more important than what most people — even Christians realize!
St Paul alluded to this when he said, “Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” Think about this: You cannot feel this way about people you do not know, like in a mega-church. Also, you can’t feel this way about people you care little about. And what did Jesus say about that? “Love one another, even as I have loved you.” Jesus did not say that to the crowd of 5000, but to the 11 gathered there, alone with Him.
We are supposed to love everyone, for love is of God and we are of God. But honestly, speaking for myself, I am not able to love every Christian as deeply as Christ loves me. And even within my human and spiritual ability, I cannot love other Christians whom I do not know, the way I love those I associate within a personal setting. And I dare say, neither can you.
And looking about at those who sat around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and so did these people in our text. You and I also sit at His feet, listening to His Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit we believe it. But I must tell you something, rather let St James tell you, ‘Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
Being doers does not save us, but if we are saved, we will also be doers. Someone offers me a glass of a liquid. He tells me, “Now do not drink this, it is poison, it will kill you.” I listen, I believe him and then I drink it. No! That is not the way it goes. If I believe him, I definitely will not drink that poison!
Believing is doing! 57 years ago I met a girl and fell in love with her and so I simply walked away from her. Not hardly. I married her. That’s love- real love compelled me to do something about it!
St Paul puts it this way:” For the love of Christ constrains us because we are convinced that One died for all; therefore all have died. And He died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for Him who died for their sake died and was raised.”
As Lutherans, we very adamantly teach that we are saved by faith alone. We quote ST Paul, “For by grace are you saved through faith and this is not your own doing, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone would boast.” five different clauses there to state in two words. Faith alone! Yet those same two verses are followed by, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” The word “walk” means a way of life, a life of good works done in gratitude to God for Jesus. In other words, we are saved by faith alone, but saving faith is not alone!
Now there are all kinds of things we can do to show our love for God and to others. But the one thing I want to emphasize — which this text spells out so clearly — is the hearing of the Word and in the fellowship of believers. Yes, you can and should read your Bibles at home. Yes, you can listen to the radio and to tapes and CDs. But the Bible has so many passages which talk about public worship!
I pay good money to go to a movie. I sit through the previews and then I leave! Not hardly. I go to a restaurant and order a steak. While waiting I drink a glass of water and eat the bread. But that fills me up and so I leave. Not hardly! Why then do Christians think that anything less than a worship service with Word and Sacrament, praise and fellowship, is soul-filling and more importantly, acceptable to God???
St Paul says, “Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day is drawing near.” Now am I preaching to the choir — no, I am equipping you so that you will go out into the highways and byways of your sphere of influence and do what Jesus said, “Compel them to come in.” Be a compelling witness!
For yourself, say with St Paul, I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” Help others to say and to feel the same way. Amen
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