Rev. Ken Montgomery, associate pastor of Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio, USA, writes:
One of the more striking passages to me in the gospel accounts is when our Lord is in a house teaching the crowd around him, and his mother and brothers are standing outside. Someone tells Jesus, “your family is here looking for you, wanting to take you home” — in all probability because they believed “he was out of his mind” and were concerned that the synagogue leaders would seize him unless they stepped in first. Jesus then asks a question that surely flummoxed all those around: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” They must have thought something along the lines of, “This is a rather rude way to treat your family, by not acknowledging their presence!” Christ then proceeds to give an answer that no one could have expected: “Looking about at those who sat about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 2:21, 31–35).
What is really quite stunning is the way Jesus redraws family lines in his kingdom. Firstly, with respect to his own relationship to the household of God, he is affirming that he has a closer relationship and commitment to those who share in faith in his Word than with members of his own earthly house. As Hebrews 2:11 says, “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Secondly, this Spirit-born and faith-united family is part of the gift given to all disciples of Christ: those who have come with their households, or even those who have been cut off from their earthly families to follow the Lord. As we read in Mark 10:29–30, “Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,’ who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
If we say “Our Father in heaven” we are also acknowledging that as the church he has made us a holy family by his grace. And every time we gather for worship, we are experiencing a “family reunion” of a heavenly kind. What a blessing this is in a world that is full of the sad results stemming from isolation and loneliness. This is one more reason “not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:25). Indeed let us pray that as God’s family we might grow in our eagerness to maintain the unity and peace Christ has secured for us.