Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21 NRSV)
I have always thought of Jesus words in Luke 8 about his mother and brothers as harsh. I mean that is not what you say when your family shows up. How would you feel if your family showed up unannounced? Most of us would overreact in some way, but we expect more from Jesus. He seems to dismiss them outright.
But I think what Jesus is really doing is redefining the word family.
He says to crowd my mother and my brothers(adelphos) are those who hear the word of God and do it. Those who are part of God’s family are related in a deeper way than those in our earthly families. This idea about family continues later in Luke 8 when a woman touches the wings of Jesus garment.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48 NRSV)
He also changes her name from woman(the generic noun gynē) in verse 43 and 47 to daughter(a more specific noun thygatēr) in verse 48. She was no longer an anonymous woman in the crowd. When Jesus addresses her she becomes daughter. She becomes a relative! No longer a generic woman, but a specific daughter.
I wonder when I see people do I see generic people? Or can I challenge myself to look deeper? What if we began to see the people around us as sons and daughters of God no matter what their circumstances are?