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?
They were furious and began talking with each other about what to do to Jesus. During that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night long. (Luke 6:11, 12 CEB)
While I was reading Luke 6 this brief tidbit about the Pharisees jumped out at me. Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath and they begin to talk with each other about what to do with him. Maybe a better way to put it is how The Message translation had it, “they started plotting how to get even with him.”
Then I noticed the contrast with verse 11. While the Pharisees plot, Jesus prays. One group stays up all night scheming while the other stays up all night praying. Both of these people are followers of G-d, but they much different ways of showing it.
One seems to think power is something to be controlled so when someone displays power by healing on the Sabbath they plot to get rid of him.
The other thinks that power belongs to G-d so after displaying power he prays to G-d the source of all true power.
In the UMC there can be a lot of talking around this time of year. Murmuring or plotting may be the better word. We can sometimes talk too much about appointments and who we think should go where instead of focusing on what Jesus is doing where we are. I think our infatuation with power can sometimes overshadow our true calling. Our true calling is not to a life of plotting but to a life of prayer. Let us leave behind the plotting life and engage in the prayer life. It’s a much better way to live.
So I would encourage you to be in prayer for our leaders, our colleagues, our friends, our communities, and our congregations.
I know during this time there are a lot of folks that need our prayers.