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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Part of Jesus' Family

2011-05-08 Mother's Day

Matthew 12:46-50

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you."

He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"

OK. At this point, if you're Jesus' mom, you're ready either to cry, or spank his behind.

What the Bible doesn't tell you is that all 12 disciples are looking down their feet and taking a step back.

From the back of the crowd, a voice says, "You're gonna get ittttt."

At this point, Jesus is about as disrespectful to his family as he can be.

In a culture that values family so much that Jesus can trace his ancestors all the way back to Abraham, if you read Matthew, all the way back to Adam & Eve, if you read Luke –

in a world where family is everything, Jesus tosses traditional family values out the window.

"Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"

Oh, Lordy. Just wait until HIS father gets home.

On one hand, Jesus is incredibly disrespectful.

But on the other hand, on the other hand, Jesus redefines what it means to be family.

And this is incredibly good news for everybody else in the world.

Jesus' disrespectful definition of family makes the rest of our families respectable.

It works like this.

Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

On the day we set aside to honor mothers, Jesus goes metaphorical.

Why? Because Jesus doesn't want anybody to be excluded because of bloodlines and ancestry.

Spiritually, we all are Jesus' mother and brother and sisters whenever we do the will of God.

And you can't get more respectful, and more generous, than that.


So, if spiritually you can be Jesus' brother or sister, OR MOM, let's take a look at some of the emotions and actions of a good family member.

Let's focus on, I don't know... moms.

What does it take to be a member of Jesus' family?

A lot of it grows from having the emotions and actions of a good mom.


Think back about how Jesus' mother, Mary, might have felt when Jesus allegedly disrespected her.

A good member of Jesus' family stands ready, either to cry or ready to spank someone's bottom.


It's a thin line. It's a mom line.

Look at the world these days.

Corporations stealing us blind.

Nations crumbling.

Political leaders doing anything but.

If you're NOT ready either to cry or ready to commence tanning some hides, you're just not paying attention.

Across the world, people are staging political revolutions with their cell phones (standard issue for most moms).

They're sick and tired of being disrespected.

Cry, yell, tweet. It works.

It's a mom thing, gone digital.

And then there are also other classic mommish traits that can lead anyone to do the will and works of Christ.

Like, "Autopilot."

It might not be the first one you think of, but mothers use Autopilot day in and day out, and it works.

Open the diaper, change the diaper.

Open the diaper, change the diaper.

Load the van, unload the van.

Sing about the Muffin Man.

Retrieve the homework incomplete.

Find the socks between the seats.

Moms do momly things without thinking.

They don't do it for the reward; they don't do it for the recognition.

They just do what needs to be done.

Don't get in their way, don't screw up the routine.


One of my favorite mom stories comes from a friend of ours who had two young kids at home.

One night they had her husband's boss and his wife over for dinner.

They sent the kids to a sitter.

The house was the immaculate exception.

Our friend brought out the steaks, set them down in front of the boss and his wife, and then picked up a knife and fork and started cutting the steak for the boss.

"Um, you're not used to eating with grownups, are you?" he asked.


Most of you just do the things we do without a whole lot of deep thought.

Somewhere, someone along the way taught you to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

It works.

You do the right thing.

Someone gets sick, you send a casserole.

Someone's car won't start, you pull out your jumper cables.

A tree falls in someone's lawn, you rev up the chainsaw, yeah.

Autopilot works.

Autopilot may not win you any awards, but it's a strong, mom trait of Jesus' family.

Another classic momly trait: Unbridled pride.

Not Texas Cheerleader Mom pride.

But the pride that just makes you beam from the inside out, usually over something someone else has done.

There was a fabulous article a week ago about an eleventh-grade boy with a tablet computer.

It started as a school project.

The kid has taken it upon himself to walk the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery and make an online database of all the soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You'd think there would already be such a thing but there's not.

On one hand, it makes you want to cry that a teenager doing a school project has to do what rooms full of bureaucrats can't figure out.

Or it makes you want to do some spankings.

Maybe both.

But on the other hand, it makes you want to beam with pride that one kid has taken it upon himself to right a wrong.

The article begins, "Rosemary Brown is standing over the grave of her son at Arlington National Cemetery when someone catches her eye.

It's a boy in khaki shorts and muddy shoes, juggling a clunky camera and the Motorola Xoom he got for his 17th birthday five days earlier.

"May I ask what you're doing?" Brown inquires.

The boy begins to peck at the Xoom tablet, and in seconds the image that Brown has come all the way from Cartwright, Okla., to see fills the screen.

It's the white marble headstone of Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Jason L. Brown, killed by small-arms fire in Afghanistan three years ago this day.

Her face brightens.

Richard "Ricky" Gilleland III — 11th-grader and Junior Future Business Leaders of America computer ace — has succeeded where the Army failed:

He has created the only digitized record of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans laid to rest at Arlington.

His website, preserveandhonor.com, is a reverent catalog of the fallen, and one young man's response to a scandal of Army mismanagement, mismarked graves and unmarked remains that has rocked this hallowed place for two years.

The article concludes,

It's a gorgeous April Sunday after a hard rain.

The red tulips stand straight as soldiers at the cemetery gates, but the grounds are soaked.

Ricky starts patrolling the far end of Section 60 where the new arrivals are.

It's muddy and his sneakers sink three inches into what he realizes is a grave so fresh the sod hasn't gone in yet.

He winces and carries on.

No way can he wear those shoes to school Monday.

That's what he's doing when Rosemary Brown spots him.

She comes here twice a year — with her husband on the anniversary of Jason's death and by herself on his birthday in September.

("It's a Mom thing," she says. "That's my time.")

In between, Ricky's website might be the next best thing.

"Continue this, please," she tells the boy she's only just met.

He's shy and a little awkward, not so different from the one she raised.

"It's so important that they never, ever be forgotten. Ever."

"I will," Ricky promises. "You can bet on it."

(April 26, 2011|By Faye Fiore, Los Angeles Times, www.preserveandhonor.com)

Richard "Ricky" Gilleland III's mother tells him that if his grades drop and he falls off the school's Honor Roll, she's selling his car for a dollar.

So far, he's maintaining his grades and his honor.

We should all share unbridled pride in a kid like that.

"Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."


If you can honor your mom today, do it.

A card, a phone call, a visit to a sacred place, a glass raised.

Honor all the good mothers of the world today with a cry, a shout, an expression of pride, or just doing the things you do because if you don't nobody else will.

But even better, honor the day by being a brother or sister or mother of Jesus Christ himself.

Be a disciple.

Be part of his greater family that needs his kind of love and compassion.

Precisely that kind of Christly love and compassion are exactly the kind you can give.

Honor Jesus.

And if you're lucky enough to know or be related to a woman who does the will of Jesus' Father in heaven, honor her today, too.

- James