Brothers And Sisters Of Christ
June 10 2018
People thought that Jesus was crazy, and with good reason! Jesus had shaken the foundations. He had made outrageous claims and had generally made a pest of Himself. The Scribes and Pharisees wanted to kill Him. They felt that it was far better that Jesus should die than lead too many people astray!
I wonder if we would have seen things differently. Jesus polarized people. You were either for Him or against Him. There was very little middle ground. C.S. Lewis put it into perspective when he wrote: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He’d either be a lunatic, on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg, or else he’d be the devil himself. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”
Jesus’ family was worried! People were saying that He had gone out of His mind. His family did not know what to think, so they came to see for themselves. They loved Jesus, and were proud of him, but now they were also embarrassed. Perhaps Jesus had crossed the fine line between genius and insanity. The religious authorities had certainly cast their vote. They said: “He is possessed by Beelzebud, and by the prince of the demons He casts out the demons” (v. 22) they said. But Jesus replied: “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. If Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he can’t stand, but his end has come.” (vv. 23-26).
Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus in his famous “House Divided” speech. Lincoln said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free.” But it was Jesus who first used those words: “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. “Jesus went further. He warned the religious leaders that it was not he who had crossed a fine line but they. He said: “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” (vv. 28-29).
The scribes had encountered the Messiah, and had pronounced him demonic. They had encountered good and called it evil. They had encountered God, and had called Him the devil. Jesus had gone from preaching to meddling, and the scribes had decided to stop Him. If Jesus were a devil, they had the right to execute Hm. But Jesus warned them that it they were the ones in jeopardy. To see good and to call it evil was unforgivable.
The scribes and Pharisees were upset with Jesus because He had upset the status quo. He had demanded change. He had told them that they were not good enough. They did not want to hear it! We don’t like it either when Jesus demands discipleship of us. Frederick Buechner writes of Jesus encounter with Pilate: “You can hardly blame Pilate for washing his hands of Jesus. He asks so much. Religious people treasure all their doctrines and the theologies and creeds and catch-phrases. We love moving them around like checkers on a checkerboard. But Jesus calls us to the terrifying game of letting Him move us, and to do and to be God only knows what.”
Jesus said that was what He wants from us. He wants us to let him move us to obey Him.
His mother and brothers came to visit him. They wanted to see if the rumors of His insanity were true and to take him home if necessary. They stood on the fringe of the crowd and tried to get his attention. People saw what was happening and said to Jesus: “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you” (v. 32). Jesus responded by asking, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (v. 33). And then he answered his own question: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and my sister and mother” (v. 35). Jesus was not being disrespectful to His family, but He was setting forth an important principle. In Christ, there are ties stronger even than blood. Anyone who does God’s will is Christ’s brother and sister, so if we do God’s will, we are Christ’s brother or sister, and if we are Christ’s brother or sister, we are also brothers and sisters to one another.
Some denominations make this explicit. They refer to each other as Brother Jones or Sister Smith. That’s really not a bad idea. If I am Christ’s brother, I am your brother as well. If you are Christ’s sister, you are my sister too.
Note how specifically Jesus defines who belongs to His family: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and mother.” When Jesus calls us to obedience, He is not being a tyrant. He knows more and sees farther than we do. He designed the Kingdom of God. We need Him to show us how we fit into that kingdom.
Earl Weaver used to manage the Baltimore Orioles. Reggie Jackson was his star player. Weaver had a rule. Nobody could steal a base unless given the steal sign. That upset Jackson, who felt that he could read the situation as well as anyone. One day, Jackson decided to steal a base, sign or no sign. He got a good jump off the pitcher, and beat the throw to second base. He stood up, shook the dirt from his uniform and smiled. He had taken a chance, and had won. After the game, Weaver called Jackson aside. He certainly didn’t say, “Good job, Reggie!” Neither did he shout at him. He just explained why Reggie did not have the steal sign at that time. The batter following Jackson was Lee May, a great power hitter. When Jackson stole second, he left first base open. That allowed the other team to walk May, robbing him of the opportunity for a hit. Also, the next batter was not a good hitter, so Weaver had to use a pinch hitter to drive in the men on base. That deprived him of strength later––when he needed it. In other words, Jackson and Weaver had not been solving the same problem. Jackson had been trying to get to second base. Weaver had been trying to win the game.
We, too, see only a bit of the game, but Christ sees forever. He is happy to include us on the team, but demands obedience. He not only wants to be your Savior, He wants to be your Lord. He says: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and mother.” Obedience to Christ is not optional. Making Jesus not only your Savior, but your Lord, is not optional. It is an important part of Christian discipleship. Until you make Jesus your Lord and devote your life to obeying Him, you are just part of the crowd. Once you make Jesus your Lord and devote your life to following Him, you become part of His family. You become one of His brothers and sisters.
A few years ago Jody McNeill invited a friend of his to speak at the Men’s Supper and Meeting. Part of his talk was a personal testimony. He said that he had come to Church some as a youth. In fact, he had come to Edgewood some. He and Jody grew up together and were good friends, so when he was spending the night or was at Jody’s house on Sunday or some other time there was an event at Edgewood, he would come with them. As he got older he went to college and got married, and started attending a Church with his family. He says that he knew who Jesus was and even asked Jesus to be his Savior, but he never asked Jesus to be his Lord. He finally saw that he needed to make Jesus his lord, and committed his life to following Jesus. His life was not totally devoted to following Jesus when he thought of Jesus as his Savior. He was not totally devoted to following Jesus until he made Jesus his Lord. There is a difference, you know. When you ask Jesus to be your Lord, you commit yourself to following Him and doing His will. You do what He wants you to do instead of what you want to do. You follow Him and His lead, and you become His true brother of sister.
Devote your life to following in the footsteps of Christ and to obeying Hs will. Make Jesus not only your Savior but make Him your Lord, so that you might be a brother or sister of Christ.