Matthew 12:46-50

TRUE KINSHIP

Matt. 12:46-50

While he was still speaking to the crowds, look you, his mother and his brothers stood outside, for they were seeking an opportunity to speak to him. Someone said to him: “Look you, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, seeking an opportunity to speak to you.” He answered the man who had spoken to him: “Who is my mother? And who are my brothers?” And he stretched out his hand towards his disciples. “See,” he said, “my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

It was one of the great human tragedies of Jesus’ life that, during his lifetime, his nearest and dearest never understood him. “For even his brothers,” says John, “did not believe in him” (Jn.7:5). Mark tells us that when Jesus set out on his public mission, his friends tried to restrain him, for they said that he was mad (Mk.3:21). He seemed to them to be busily engaged in throwing his life away in a kind of insanity.

It has often been the case that, when a man embarked on the way of Jesus Christ, his nearest and dearest could not understand him, and were even hostile to him. “A Christian’s only relatives,” said one of the early martyrs, “are the saints.” Many of the early Quakers had this bitter experience. When Edward Burrough was moved to the new way, “his parents resenting his `fanatical spirit’ drove him forth from his home.” He pleaded humbly with his father: “Let me stay and be your servant. I will do the work of the hired lad for thee. Let me stay!” But, as his biographer says, “His father was adamant, and much as the boy loved his home and its familiar surroundings, he was to know it no more.”

True friendship and true love are founded on certain things without which they cannot exist.

(i) Friendship is founded on a common ideal. People who are very different in their background, their mental equipment, and even their methods, can be firm friends, if they have a common ideal, for which they work, and towards which they press.

(ii) Friendship is founded on a common experience, and on the memories which come from it. It is when two people have together passed through some great experience and when they can together look back on it, that real friendship begins.

(iii) True love is founded on obedience. “You are my friends,” said Jesus, “if you do what I command you” (Jn.15:14). There is no way of showing the reality of love unless by the spirit of obedience.

For all these reasons true kinship is not always a matter of a flesh and blood relationship. It remains true that blood is a tie that nothing can break and that many a man finds his delight and his peace in the circle of his family. But it is also true that sometimes a man’s nearest and dearest are the people who understand him least, and that he finds his true fellowship with those who work for a common ideal and who share a common experience. This certainly is true–even if a Christian finds that those who should be closest to him are those who are most out of sympathy with him, there remains for him the fellowship of Jesus Christ and the friendship of all who love the Lord.

Back to: THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW (Chapters 11-28)

Back to: Barclay’s Commentary

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