Last time we looked at the sobering reality that most of us come from fractured families. We learned that even Jesus’ family had significant issues to overcome – especially in their early understanding of who Jesus really was and what he came to do.
After being rejected violently in his hometown of Nazareth, and then sent for by his mother and brothers who thought he was out of his mind, Jesus redefines “family”. In Mark 3 he asks: “Who are my mother and bothers?”…Then he looked around 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.”
Jesus never married and had children, but he did forge a family. This family consisted of his followers who submitted to God’s will and joined him on his mission – to seek and save the lost, to bring his Father’s kingdom to earth…to make disciples who make disciples. Jesus came to do his Father’s will, and he called those who would join him “family”.
I believe the verb “forged” is fitting. Forging is the ancient craft of shaping metal through the use of heat and compression. After iron is heated to over 1,000 degrees Celsius the impurities are removed and carbon is added. Through a very intentional process of heating, cooling, and compressing (think hammer and anvil) a steel blade is forged. The raw materials are transformed into a thin metal blade that is now hard, strong, flexible and balanced. Once polished and sharpened this weapon (called “Gladius” in Jesus’ day) ruled the world in the hands of the Romans.
How did Jesus go about forging this new family?
1. It all begins with loving the Father
Jesus startled and sent shock waves throughout Israel when he called God his “Father” and referred to himself as the “Son of God”. Jesus introduces us, in a whole new way, to a personal God who is the father of a family. The other New Testament writers go on to refer to Christ as our “brother” and believers as “adopted” children of God.
The fatherhood of God is the foundation for the new family Jesus forged. We find our place in this family as his beloved children. We find our true identity in the death and resurrection of Christ. We find our purpose in knowing and doing the Father’s will.
And why do we want to to the Father’s will? Because we love him more than anything! We love him, because he first loved us (while we were still unforgiven sinners).
2. House rules for the kids explained
Jesus forges a family by modeling and training his disciples how to treat and care for one another. And there were no lack of teachable moments!
- When the disciples argue about which of them will be the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus washes their feet.
- When Peter denies Christ three times, Jesus seeks him out, forgives him, and restores him into the family
- When his disciples are repulsed by tax collectors and sinners, Jesus invites Matthew to join them and invites himself in Zacchaeus’ home for a meal.
In John 17 Jesus prays that his followers would love one another and live in complete unity. To love one another, to submit to one another, to honor one another, and to forgive one another…these are the household rules in the Father’s family.
3. A job to do
After Jesus rises from the grave he repeats his instructions to his followers three times:
- In Matthew 28 he sends them to “make disciples of all nations…baptizing them… and teaching them to obey all I have commanded.”
- In John 20 he sends them just as the Father had sent him.
- In Acts 1 he promises to give them power through the Holy Spirit to bear witness to him both near and far.
The family that Jesus forges has a family business. And that family business is to apprentice believers (especially those who are NOT YET believers) into the words, the works, and the ways of Jesus. To become imitators of Jesus who invite others to follow in our footsteps.
Jesus has started a new family, a spiritual family. Have you found your place around the table yet?