DUNCAN/Whoever does the will of my father
Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 12:46-50. Throughout this chapter the Lord Jesus’ character is contrasted with the character of the Pharisees. In each successive event that is recorded, we see what is in Jesus’ heart revealed by His words and actions, and conversely, we see what is in the hearts of the Pharisees by their words and actions. We saw that especially in the blasphemous response to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ earlier. And as if recognizing that His disciples were in need of some encouragement in light of these events, at the very end of this chapter the Lord Jesus hands out a tender and loving expression of encouragement and comfort to all those who are His disciples. The Lord Jesus give us three things in this great passage. First, Jesus teaches that even common events have spiritual implications. Second, the privilege we have to be children of God. And third, who Christians are.
I. Jesus Teaches That Even Common Events Have Spiritual Implications
In verses 46-47 Matthew gives another one of those divine interruptions that we have already talked about. We have said that throughout the gospel of Matthew, Jesus, in the midst of His ministry, is frequently interrupted. Now we see that He is interrupted by His parents. Over and over, we see the Lord Jesus Christ respond to these unexpected interruptions by using them as an opportunity to teach the disciples and the multitudes important spiritual truths. Jesus teaches us in verses 46-47 that we as Christians ought to use every circumstance, every event in life as an opportunity for spiritual reflection and as an opportunity to bear witness to Christ. Jesus is speaking, and someone inside the house says to Jesus in verse 47, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, and they desire to speak to You.” Jesus’ family has come to seek Him out.
Notice how Jesus turns a common event into an opportunity to reflect upon spiritual truth. It’s a very standard question. He turns that interruption into an opportunity to ask His audience to reflect on the far more important spiritual question, “Who is in the family of God?” “Who belongs as a child to God the Father?” “Who is in the family of faith?” That’s how it ought to be for all of us. We ought to use common events as gateways to think about spiritual issues. I want you to note again how Jesus seizes this opportunity, this interruption, and He converts it into a cause for ministry.
If we are going to be able to do that with the common events of our lives, we are going to have to do at least four things. If we want to be able to turn common events into opportunities for spiritual growth and witness to Christ, there are at least four things that we have to do. And the first thing is that we must be bathed in the word of God. You cannot think spiritually about life unless you become bathed with the truth of Scripture. The second thing that we have to do if we are going to be able to convert common events for opportunities for reflection about spiritual truth and witness to Chris is we must have begun to take on the mind of Christ. It’s not enough to know truth. Until Christian truth becomes instinctive to us, we will not be able to respond to common events with spiritual eyes. It must become part of us. There’s a third thing we have to do though. We must cultivate opportunities to share Christ and to reflect about spiritual truth. Finally, we must be prayerfully dependent on the Lord for both the opportunities to share spiritual truth and for the words to say when they come.
II. The Privilege We Have to Be Children of God
In verses 48-49 there is a wonderfully encouraging word from the Lord Jesus Christ about the privilege we have to be the adopted children of God. In this passage, the Lord Jesus reminds us that we ought to dwell on, in fact we ought to revel in, the blessings of being in the family of God. Kinship to Christ is the greatest thing that there is. As Jesus is asked the question, “Your mother and Your brothers are outside. Don’t You want to speak to them?” He says this word in verse 48, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” He stretches out His hands to His disciples and says in verse 49, “Behold, My mother and My brothers.” Jesus replies with a tantalizing question, and that question basically means: who are those who belong to My spiritual family? Who are those who are children of the heavenly Father? We cannot even begin to take in the blessing of what it is to be accepted into this family. If you will think for a minute about what you deserve – hell, and what you have received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – heaven, then there is no way to even begin to express what an enormous privilege that we have in union with Christ. Only by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, resting on Him, will you taste that overwhelming grace that feels the flood of the love of God.
III. Who Christians Are
In verse 50, Jesus’ words are not an imperative. They are not a command. It’s a description. He says, “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Jesus indicates here that all those who belong to His family do the will of the heavenly Father. It’s a description of what Christians are. It’s a definition.
What’s a Christian? A Christian is one who does the will of the heavenly Father. If you are Jesus’ disciples, if you’re Jesus’ brothers and sisters, you do the will of the heavenly Father. If you are not this, you are not His. Those who are Jesus’ disciples do the will of the heavenly Father. Have we imbibed the spirit of Christ? Do we love to do the will of the heavenly Father? Do you remember Jesus’ words in John 4:34? He says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” Do you see the delight that the Lord Jesus takes in doing the will of God? Can we be described as those who do the will of the heavenly Father? Do we love it? He is calling on us to be who we are. He has made us to be people conformed to His image who love to do the will of the Father just as He loves to do His Father’s will. Let us do the will of the one who holds the world in His hands.
The Rev. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. He can be reached at 601-923-1600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.