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God’s Word for You

Luke 8:19-21 Jesus’ brothers

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, March 14, 2018

19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him and were not able to get near him because of the crowd.  20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”  21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

Matthew places this story of Jesus’ mother and brothers ahead of the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 12:46-50).  Since before his baptism, there has been no mention of Joseph, Mary’s husband, and I think it’s likely that Joseph had died. The family that comes to see him here is described as his mother and brothers. In Mark 6:3 his brothers’ names are given as James, Joseph, Judas and Simon, and we’re also told that Jesus had some sisters. A close friend, John the Apostle, said that “even his own brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:5). Yet two of them, James and Jude, later became Christian leaders and wrote books of the Bible (the books of James and Jude).

Could the “brothers” in our passage have been something other than physical brothers, such as cousins or close family friends? This is possible with the Greek word adelphos (ἀδελφός) when it’s used alone, but it isn’t alone here. It’s used together with “mother,” and there is no example in any Greek writing of “brother” meaning anything but “brother” when used alongside “mother.” So I believe that these brothers were sons of Mary and Joseph, born after Mary’s firstborn son Jesus. But that isn’t the point of the story. We don’t have to press that point with people who are uncomfortable with it or who were taught something different, because what matters is faith in Christ. And that very thing is the point of this passage.

Mary and the brothers were trying to get to Jesus, probably to get him to tone down his message or stop him from claiming to be the Messiah or something like that. Mary was just as capable of falling into a silly sin like that as you and I are. But Jesus wants us to remember that the most important relationship we have is with him. Faith makes you Jesus’ brother or sister or mother. You remember that and hang onto it always. It’s in Jesus that you have forgiveness and victory over the grave. Who else in the whole world would you ever want as your brother? I love my brother Dan and my sister Nola very much, but Jesus is my brother, too, through faith, and that’s the most important thing I have. And no one can ever take that away.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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