19 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.
20 And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
1901 ASV Translation:
19 And there came to him his mother and brethren, and they could not come at him for the crowd.
20 And it was told him, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
21 But he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these that hear the word of God, and do it.
I. The Coming of Jesus' "Mother and Brethren".
A. First in our consideration is the question of why Luke would stick this little three-verse segment into his record at all, let alone at this place. What does this record mean? [See Notes for March 22, 2009(514)]
B. Second in our consideration are the terms Luke/Jesus used to describe this potential problem.
1. The verb translated "came" is used quite often in the New Testament, but it is not the same verb used by Mark in his record of this same event. It is, rather, an intensified verbal form of a word that typically means to come into being or to come into history at the described point in time. Luke used the word 30 of the 37 times it is found in the New Testament and he used it when the idea of "coming for a purpose" is dominant. Thus, we get a hint that "His mother and brothers" did not simply decide to show up at this time; they, instead, came for a reason that Luke, for his own reasons, refused to identify except obliquely.
2. In describing the intent of the mother and brothers, Luke said they were unable "to come at him" (an odd translation by the Authorized Version and ASV that is altered by the NASB to "to get to Him"). The reason for this translational difference is rooted in the verb Luke used, a verb only used this one time in the entire New Testament. The question is one of Luke's deliberate vocabulary. The word he used was rooted in the idea of a combined effort to "gather" or "obtain" or "gain". This strongly implies that Luke knew that the mother and brothers were intentional in their coming and it was not to hear Jesus, but to take Him into their control. But for Mark's record in Mark 3:21, we would not have a clear understanding of their thought, but only a implied fault arising out of Jesus' clear renunciation of them as "mother and brothers".
3. But, Luke records, "it was reported to Him" that "your mother and brothers stand without desiring to see you". The verb "to see" is innocuous and hides the intent. It implies that Mary and the brothers didnottell those, who were responsible for making it known to Jesus that they were there, why they wanted to "see" Him. In their imaginations, their "family" connectedness to Jesus meant that they could shut His teaching ministry down by bringing Him under their control. There is this: why would the "mother" and "the brothers" come to "see" Jesus? This is clearly a collective effort that has nothing to do with "hearing" His words. "Hearing" has nothing to do with "getting at Him" or "wishing to see Him".
a. We are plainly told in John 7:5 that "...neither did his brethren believe in Him." This has to mean that they were up to no good (unbelievers are never motivated by "good").
b. The harder question has to do with Mary's participation in this stunt.
II. Jesus' Renunciation of "His Mother and His Brethren".
A. Jesus made no effort to let his mother or brothers "see" Him.
B. Instead, He deliberately redefined "family".
1. In this redefinition Jesus deliberately made "family" those who "are hearing and doing the word of God".
a. This is an enormously large, and, by that, complex concept that can easily be drowned by the generalities. What did Jesus have in mind with "hearing and doing the word of God"?
b. Clearly, He was not interested in those who made a practice of simply "hearing" what He had to say. Just as clearly, He was not interested in those who put a premium upon "doing" that was held in tandem with an attitude of superiority toward others.
c. The "particulars" of hearing and doing are probably too "individual-specific" to permit any general identification, but there is a demeanor to the one who has made him/her self a living sacrifice to God that simply does not exist in the one who retains the "right" to decide which parts of Jesus' teaching he/she will allow to govern his/her life-direction.
1) This "demeanor" has some basic characteristics. When faulting the entire world for its godlessness, Paul said two things in Romans 1:21: they did not "glorify Him as God"; nor did they "give thanks". These two elements are reinforced at every turn. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul wrote, "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you", thereby combining both of the elements of Romans 1:21.
2) Since God is the One who has designed the "individual-specific" issues of each of His children's lives, any attitude that smacks of a self-directed life is an affront to Truth and a denial of any real sense of "hearing and doing" the word of God.
2. This redefinition maintains the focus upon "family" without allowing it to become an idol in its own right.