How to be a part of Jesus’ family – Luke 8:16-21

22 Jul

So Jesus was maybe, possibly a bit icy to his family one time.

As painful as that situation could have been from a mother’s perspective, Jesus was clearly willing to redefine what it meant to be in relationship with him. This was an entirely new understanding of family. I wonder if it broke Mary’s heart. I don’t think so. You watch the pattern of her life, and she continues to pursue him. We have to remember that Mary was a deep follower of the Lord and, along with his siblings, she became a follower of Jesus.  Luke tells us in Acts 1:1-15, right after Jesus leaves them, and the massive crowds that once followed him are gone, that only 120 followers remain, and look who is still there in that group of 120:  “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

What struck me as I read Luke’s story back in Luke 8:16-21 when Jesus might have been a bit cold, is that Jesus’ brothers are there. Things were sometimes testy between Jesus and his brothers. One time in the Gospel of John, they make fun of him and all this fame. But back at the crowded house that day in Luke 8 hearing Jesus teach was his brother James. James would go on to become a follower of Jesus, to the point where at the beginning of his letter, the book of James, he doesn’t even stake his claim as Jesus’ brother. Wouldn’t you milk that for all it’s worth? But James doesn’t. He calls himself a slave/servant of Jesus. And by that time James was the Bishop of the church of Jerusalem. And what does he say near the beginning of his letter? In James 1:22-24 says something that sounds familiar:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

Do you think James remembered that day in crowd, wondering what in the world is actually going on with his older brother?  Do you think James heard Jesus say “my mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice”? Jesus isn’t saying that normal family relationships aren’t important. We should have good family relationships. He is talking about how people in his spiritual family will actually do what God says. Otherwise it is as pointless as lighting a candle and hiding it, or as pointless, James would later say, to look at yourself in the mirror and then forget what you look like.

Members of Jesus’ family, then, do two things: hear the Word and put it into practice.

Hearing is a deep interaction with God’s Word. Not just hearing a sermon, but interacting with what you’ve heard. Did you know you can interact with the sermon? I am growing more and more convinced that these monologues, these preaching events, are conveying the idea that people in the pews are just passive hearers. Jesus is saying that hearing must be active. Active listening that leads to life change. What does it take to engage the Scripture and do what it says?

Evaluate yourself, how eager are you to hear the Word? Do you look forward to hearing the Word in worship? Are you thinking about it, praying about it? What you hear in worship through sermons is a great start, but truly engaging the Word of God means a strong desire to keep hearing!

How eager are you to hear the word?

Evaluate your own personal study of God’s Word. Do you know how to study the Bible on your own? Reading it is a great start. I have the Bible app on my phone and there are great reading plans. The Bible app is free. Or maybe you prefer a paper Bible. Either way, in addition to reading, consider adding aAccountability, sharing what you learn, asking someone to check up on you, that you are following through is often needed. It is imperative Jesus tells us that we hear the Word.

Will you start praying, maybe daily “Lord make me more eager for your Word.”

Then Jesus says, we need to put it into practice.

Putting it into Practice

One of our small group leaders at Faith Church asked his group this question: Is there anything in this world that makes you fearful? Christians have been the leaders in responding to the world with doom and gloom. This week, Christianity Today exposed two false news stories that Christians were sharing, both about doom and gloom. In a changing world, it is easy for Christians to feel defeated, but let us not hide our light under a bed of frustration.   We have hope of eternal life, and we get to lead the abundant life of Christ. We have the Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit. We should be the most joyful, hopeful, loving, kind people. That is how we should be known. That is the light of Christ shining through us!

Hearing God’s Word and putting it into practice is perhaps hardest in relationships. We need to see ourselves as shining God’s light into those relationships. Practice the Golden Rule. And let us love our neighbor as ourselves. Do you have a broken or hurting relationship in your life that you need to shine God’s light?

Let’s show the world we are part of Jesus’ family by hearing his Word and putting it into practice.

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