48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”– Mt 12:48-50, NLT
Some people claim a spiritual relation to Jesus, but their dubious deportment leaves you skeptical. In the final analysis, what we claim about our status with the Lord is “incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial” (as an attorney might object, regarding the testimony of a witness). On the other hand, when God claims us as His children, and the Holy Spirit generates in us a new attitude toward His Son, we obtain a new “Owner/Manager”. Our whole orientation: toward God, toward other Christians (and non-believers), our priorities in life, and how we act – all undergo a transformation.
Jesus was not denying a genetic kinship to his mother and his own brothers; rather, he was declaring the cruciality (a word coined by P.T. Forsythe?) of a spiritual kinship to the Lord, authenticated by the submission of the will of his heavenly Father. The Apostle John writes in the Fourth Gospel:
12 But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children 13 —children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God. – John 1:12 – 13 (NET)
Our experience of rebirth was first God’s decision. Then we responded to the Gift of Jesus Christ by believing that he is God’s Son, sent for our salvation, and receiving him as our Lord – just as Zacchaeus received Jesus into his home.
“He came down (from a tree) . . . and welcomed him gladly” . . . and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, Here now I give half my possessions to the poor.’” Then Jesus “said to him, ‘Today, salvation has come to this house . . . For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” – Lk 19:8 – 10 (NIV)
The spiritual family of God shares certain moral and spiritual qualities, just as blood relatives share certain physical characteristics. Members of the family of God do not decide what those spiritual qualities will be. Instead, the New Testament tells us what they are, and Jesus Christ exemplifies them perfectly. You may be familiar with the “Fruit of the Spirit” – love, joy peace, patience, etc. Perhaps we can reduce these qualities to two things: (1) Love toward God and each member of the family He has adopted, and (2) a devotion to doing His will. We call the second “obedience.”
The New Testament has a great deal to say about how these two attitudes define our relation to the Lord. When we demonstrate these qualities, Jesus declares that we are part of his true family. For someone who belongs to God, through Jesus Christ, obeying the Father is not a burden or a joy-killer. In fact, it gives us the deepest satisfaction, since honoring the Father is exactly what He “rebirthed” us to do. Therefore, when love for others and devotion to God’s will begin to determine our behavior, we may be sure that we are children of God and siblings of the Lord Jesus.