How do we grow in kinship with Jesus? A curious story reported by Matthew, Mark and Luke may provide some insight.
At one of the many times that Jesus was surrounded by a large throng of people, he was told that his mother and brothers were outside. Jesus asks, “Who are my mother and brothers?” Mark reports, “Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ’Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)
This seems to be a rather curious and harsh response by Jesus. Yet, he is not denigrating his mother or kinship as much as he raising those who do God’s will to the importance and level of kinship. For most of us, there can be no more honored status than our mothers who gave us life. Jesus is saying that those who do God’s will are similar in status and importance.
Jesus is using what appears to be an extreme statement to get our attention on how important it is to do God’s will in all things — in all our daily choices, large and small. The following story may serve to illustrate.
Ruth’s co-worker, Stella, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. After frequently talking with Stella on the phone, Ruth came to realize that the Lord was putting it on her heart to bring his word to Stella.
Ruth’s first reaction was one of apathy and denial. “Lord, are you sure you want me to do this? I am not very good at this sort of thing,” she observed. After lots of prayer and several sleepless nights, Ruth asked Stella if she was receiving visitors. Stella said yes, and also mentioned that she had been having several dreams and that Ruth was in each of them. Ruth took this as a sign that the Holy Spirit was bringing them together.
When Ruth visited her the following day, Stella spoke of her religious upbringing as a child; she asked about the right way to pray and wondered if her illness was a result of something bad in her life. Ruth assured her that was not the case and that God loved her more than she could comprehend. All she needed to do was invite God into her life.
Ruth said, “Over the next few visits, we continued to talk and pray, and Stella invited Jesus into her life. The last time I saw her she had an angelic, peaceful quality about her, and although she could barely whisper, she assured me that she was praying and would be fine.”
Although Ruth initially resisted the promptings she was receiving, she eventually yielded to God’s will to bring God’s word and offer of salvation to Stella before she died. By doing so, Ruth was furthering her kinship with Jesus.
We remember the words of Jesus before his arrest, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)