The Royal Family of God (Matthew Sermon 57 of 151)
June 08, 2003 | Andy Davis
He came back and with some disappointment, said to his mother, “ I found the stone. But I don't think the strongest man in Troezen could move it.” His mother sighed an unhappy sigh, smiled at him and said some day you may be the strongest man on Troezen and then you'll move the stone. Every year they went through the same ritual. Years after year. At the same time she brought him to that stone and said, "Move the stone and give me what's under it.” He never could, but as he grew into young manhood, he came back excited one day, and said, "Mother I think I've moved it. I think very soon I might be able to get at it and bring you what's under the stone.” He was motivated, and in order to grow strong, Theseus spent all his days wrestling and boxing and training horses and going on the wild boar hunts. All of the things that were needed to prepare him for manhood. It was a great year, and he strengthened himself and his mother taught him and trained him every day with wisdom-wise counsel.
And sure enough, that time of year came around, and his mother bid him to go and move that stone and bring her what was underneath. Mother sensed that this year was the year. He was the strongest man in Troezen; a strapping young man, 18 years old. He also sensed that this was the year, so he went to the stone and put his fingers around it and exerted it with all of his strength and might felt like his heart would burst within him. Sinus muscles straining and finally, that boulder yielded to His strength, and with a cry of triumph he toppled it over. Theseus had conquered the stone and underneath he found a bronze sword with a golden hilt and a pair of magnificent golden sandals. He took them out and brought them to his mother, who was weeping. He said, "Mother, look what I found! A bronze sword with a golden hilt and two golden sandals." But he noticed that she was weeping, and so it went on and he started to cry too, but he didn't know why. “Mother, why are you crying?”
She said, "Come with me, I want to show you something. They went to the ocean and looked out over the beautiful ocean. She pointed across the water and said, “There across the sea is Attica where your father lives and where the Athenian people dwell. It's a beautiful land, a land with olive oil and honey, rich land, with good and noble people. Theseus, what would you do if you were king of such a land?” His heart swelling with pride and with a courageous sense of what he could do. He said, “ If I were king of such a land, I would rule wisely and well in wisdom and in might, that when I died, everyone would weep over my tomb, and say, ‘There lies the shepherd of his people.’ ” Aethra smiled and said, “Your father is King Augeas of Athens. When he went to be king, he commanded me to treat you and train you as a child until you should prove yourself by the lifting of the stone. That task accomplished, you are to put on his sandals and follow in his footsteps. You are to gird on his sword, and you are to slay the dragon and the giant just as he did in his youth, and then present yourself before him and say, ‘Father the stone has been lifted.’ ” But Theseus wept and said, "Shall I leave you? Oh, my mother.” She answered, "Weep not for me, that which is destined, must be. Grief is easy for those who do nothing but grieve." Then she kissed Theseus, her little boy that she'd raised from infancy, faced him toward the sea and turned and went into the temple, and he saw her no more.
Now, what does that have to do with Jesus Christ, you may ask? When God set-up the world He put a garden in it, the Garden of Eden, and the very first thing He did was form a family. There was a husband, Adam, and a wife, Eve, and the two became one flesh and God gave them a command. “Fill the earth, be fruitful and multiply.” Seventy-six generations later the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. God entrusted to Joseph and Mary the task of raising Jesus until the time came for him to begin his ministry. It was prophesied through Simeon to Mary, “A sword will pierce your own soul.” It would be a painful work that Mary would do as she would prepare Jesus for His life of ministry, and one of the great mysteries of the incarnation, that Jesus, God in the flesh, should be trained in the ordinary way in a family with a stepfather, Joseph, and with a biological mother, Mary. And the mystery is in Luke 2:52, “and Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” Many of those lessons that he learned, he learned from his mother, from his father, from his brothers and sisters too. But the time came for Jesus to begin his ministry, and the time came also for him to put his physical family in their proper place, that they might understand their role and that they might know that the physical family was meant to be only a dim reflection of that which was heavenly.
There was a higher family, the family of God, the kingdom of heaven and only those who know and do the will of his father will enter into it. So we come to this text. Now what's the context of this? It's the advancing kingdom of heaven that we might understand what the kingdom involves. We've seen that Jesus proclaimed the eminence of the kingdom when he said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and then He unfolded the nature of the kingdom and the Sermon on the Mount and what kingdom life would be like and how we would enter the kingdom. He demonstrated the power of the kingdom through his miracles, a river of miracles. There seemed to be nothing He could not do, and He commissioned the messengers of the kingdom in Matthew 10, the apostles, sending them out that they should proclaim the kingdom, and that the kingdom should advance.
Now, in Chapter 11-12, we have the feedback, we have the human responses to the message of the kingdom. First, John the Baptist languishing in prison in doubt, not really sure if Jesus is the one. Then we have Jewish cities Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, rejecting the kingdom, not accepting him, not listening. We have in Matthew 12, the opposition and hatred of the Jewish leaders who had hatched a plot to murder Jesus that would in the end be successful. And the summary that is how it will be with this generation, speaking of this whole Jewish nation. The Jewish nation as a whole would reject the kingdom that Christ brought, and the capstone of it all is his own family. His own physical family coming to Him, and Jesus saying, “You want to know who my family is?” Pointing to his disciples, saying, “Here's my brother and sister, and mother, for whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother. This is the royal family of God.”
Jesus’ Physical Family
Now, as we look at this text, we see first the blessings and limitations of Christ’s physical family. What do I mean by that? Well, what does the scripture teach about Jesus’s physical family? Jesus had a physical mother, and a stepfather. Joseph was Christ’s earthly father by adoption. He legitimized Christ claim to the throne of David, because he himself was a son of David, as the angel said. Probably by now, I think Joseph was dead, and so Mary was a widow leaving Christ the rightful heir to David's throne. It was Christ’s by right, he was the anointed one. Mary herself was also physically descended from David, I think as is unfolded in the genealogy in Luke's gospel. From her he received a fully human nature and from her and also from Joseph and from his family and his relatives and from his hometown, he received his nurture and his training as a human being would.
Christ had brothers and sisters. This is taught, again and again in the New Testament. Matthew 12:46-47, “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.’” Also in another chapter, Matthew 13, verses 55-56, his hometown folks are in the process of rejecting him there saying, "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary and aren't his brothers, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?Aren't all his sisters with us?” I would think that would be conclusive. It’s not quite that simple as we'll get to in a moment, but also it says in John 2:12, “After this Christ went down to Capernaum with his mother and his brothers and his disciples and there they stayed for a few days.” Now the bone of contention here, is on the use of the word “brother.” Sometimes it can be translated “cousin” in the Aramaic and the Greek, and the Hebrew don't really have a good word for cousin. Frequently, “brother” could just refer to an extended family member. In the King James version of Genesis 29:15 when Laban greets Jacob he says, “Because thou art my brother should thou serve me?” In other words, you're going to work for me, we know that, but I'm going to pay you because you're my brother. Well, he's his nephew, actually, but he calls him brother. But I think when the brothers are listed by name here, four of them specifically, it gives me a strong indication that Jesus had brothers. In Mark 6:3 it says, "Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren't all his sisters with us, and they took offense at him.”
Therefore, I think the simple way to read this is that Jesus had brothers. Now, you might say, "where did he get them?” Well, use your imagination. Joseph and Mary were a couple. They loved each other, they had children and among them were four brothers, what we would call half brothers of Jesus. Now, of course, the Roman Catholic Church disagrees with this, and teaches that Mary was a perpetual Virgin. Catholics say that Mary was the ever Virgin Mary, always the Virgin, but this is not taught anywhere in Scripture, and you have to realize that the burden of proof would be on the Catholics to prove it. We would assume that they naturally had children unless the Scripture would teach us otherwise, and it doesn't. And so these were his brothers. That poses an interesting problem. Imagine you were his younger brother, and you acted like the son of Adam, that you were, and you disobeyed your parents, as all sons of Adam do. Can you imagine Mary saying, "Why can't you live like your older brother? He never does anything wrong, He always obeys me gladly.” You might actually have a building kind of resentment against him. You could never live up to him, he's perfect in every way, literally. What a challenge. But Jesus had this kind of a physical life. It says right in the text that Jesus had brothers, and so he did. Bottom line is that Jesus had a family just like you and me. That was part of his sharing in our physical identity, in his solidarity with the entire human race, his physical nature. Now Christ had a godly sense of love and responsibility to his physical family. He was the perfect son, he was obedient to his parents in every way. In Luke 2:51, it says that Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to his parents. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. He was a carpenter it seems just like Joseph was. I've already read the two passages that if you put them together in Matthew 13, it says, "Isn't this the carpenter's son? So that means that Joseph is the carpenter, but then in Mark 6:3, it says Isn't he the carpenter himself? So it seems that Jesus was apprenticed as a carpenter, just as Joseph had been. You could imagine them working side by side, shaping the wood, making a table or chair, or some other piece of furniture. Jesus learned and grew from those experiences with his father, his physical father, his step-father Joseph.
Jesus taught that we must honor our father and mother in Matthew 15. He destroys the idea of “korban”, of giving a gift to God instead of using it to help your parents. He said You should have honored your father, and mother, as the scripture says, and so Jesus upheld perfectly this command to honor your father and mother. He himself practiced what he preached even in his adult years. He is still concerned for Mary's physical well-being as he's dying on the cross. He looks down and sees the disciple whom he loves, John, and he sees his widowed mother and none of his brothers. I think at that point we could surmise the don’t believe in Christ, although after the resurrection, they do. It says according to Acts 1 that they're there. But at this point, they didn't. Jesus seeing them, He says to Mary, “Woman behold your son.” And then He says, to John, "Behold your mother .” He put them together in effect and from that day forth John took Mary into his home and cared for her. Jesus perfectly obeyed the fifth commandment, honor your father and mother. He perfectly obeyed it every day of his life.
Limitations of the Physical Family of Jesus
But Christ also limited the significance of his physical family, and this is one of those texts in which he does that. There's a limit to the physical family, we don't idolize it. We don't say that it is God's final and highest purpose. No, it isn't. The final, and highest purpose is not the physical family, it is the kingdom of God. It is the royal family of God, that's his final purpose, and the physical family is here to teach us about that and to prepare us for it. Jesus limited the physical family and put it within boundaries. He does it by it seems a kind of a consistent pattern of gently re-buffing his mother when she takes a role that's not appropriate as in Luke 2:48-49, when Jesus at age 12 managed to get away from his parents and was in the house of God, answering and asking difficult questions of the religious leaders there. His parents wondered where he was. They went back and searched for him and found him in the temple. His mother said to him, “ Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he's asked. “Didn't you know? I had to be in my Father's house?” Imagine if you were Joseph, how would you hear that? “Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house.” The King James says, “I had to be about my father's business, I had to be doing my father's things.”
In John chapter 2, when the time has come for him, like Theseus, to go off and begin his ministry, He starts with a miracle. The miracle was at the wedding at Cana, Galilee and Jesus turns water into wine. Who initiates the process? Well, it's Mary. She comes up and says, “They have no wine.” Right there at the start, He wants to say, “It's not going to be like this. You're not going to come and tell me that we're going to do this or that. He says very respectfully, "Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come." And so in a very gentle way. He says, "Mother, this is my ministry, Now the time has come for me to do this for my Heavenly Father.” In a very gentle way, he speaks very respectfully to her. Another time when Jesus was teaching many things a woman in the crowd called out in Luke 11:27-28, “ Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” And He replied, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” In other words, it's of a higher blessing to hear God's word and obey it than it is to be Mary the mother of Jesus. We don't tend to think that way, do we? The Catholic church could never understand that. In some places, they worship Mary and idolize her, put her up to the highest place. Jesus said it's even higher to hear God's word and obey. We also see the unbelief of his brothers as I already mentioned, but you see it most clearly in John 7. Jesus says he's not going up to the feast and his brothers don't understand. “Don't you know that this is the back water. This is Galilee, up here, nobody follows what's going on in Galilee. You need to get down where the big newspapers, are you need to get down in Jerusalem where everything's happening. Nobody wants to be the leader of his people, hides out, like you're doing. If you're doing these things, show yourself to the world.”
And then very interesting, the apostle John says, "For even his own brothers did not believe in him." This is a very strong statement and even stronger is s statement to them at that moment, in John 7:7, “He looks at them and says, the world cannot hate you.” Why is that significant? We'll realize what later Jesus says in John 15:19. “If you belong to the world it would love you as its own." As it is, He's speaking to his disciples. “You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you.” So what is he saying to his brothers when he says, “The world can't hate you. You belong to it. You're it own, you're a son of the devil, you love the world system, so therefore the world cannot hate you.” A very strong statement on his part. Now, what happened this time? Well, you have to get the whole synoptic picture. It's not all here in Matthew but you have to get it out of Mark. In Mark 3:21 Jesus’ family had heard that the authorities were saying it was by Beelzebub the prince of demons, that he was driving out demons. When they heard this, they were greatly alarmed and concerned for him. Mark 3:21 says, “They went to take charge of Him, for they said he is out of his mind." That's a very significant verse, isn't it? Jesus is over 30 years old and his family has come to take charge of him. He's going to be a ward of the family, this is a fruit of their unbelief. They think he's insane, even his mother is there. Maybe they believe the reports that he was doing miracles by Beelzebub, maybe they just thought he was insane. They knew it was getting out of control, it was getting big and dangerous. Mary, his mother, not fully understanding the kingdom and all that had to happen, probably just wanted to protect Jesus and was there to kind of take charge of him and protect him and take him back into protective custody. No, it can't be.
Jesus’ Spiritual Family
Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of Heaven, He is perfect and he knows what he's doing. Even if you don't understand, He's going to advance the kingdom in his way. Jesus taught us more things about the physical family. You remember in Matthew 10 He said, “The kingdom is going to advance, and as it advances, brother will betray brother to death and a father, his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me. A man's enemies will be the members of his own household.” Then He says in Matthew 10:34, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth, I have not come to bring peace but a sword. For I've come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” Do you see the clear ordering in Christ’s mind here? The kingdom of heaven comes first, above any earthly commitment. Husband, wife, father, son, brother, brother all of these are less, and lower than the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the teaching of Christ and in Luke 9, another disciple said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good bye to my family and Jesus said, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” Now, that seems harsh. But it's a consistent pattern that Jesus has of putting the Kingdom of Heaven first, and every other earthly connection second. The larger issue here is that Jesus belonged to a family of the Jews. He was Jewish and his brothers and sisters, the Jews were rejecting him, his own physical brothers were just a symbol of that, the whole nation was turning against him. How does the Gospel of Matthew began? How does it start? Well, it starts with a genealogy. We gentiles, we think very little of that that was vital to the Jews. They were tracing out his physical lineage to show that Jesus was the son of David, who was the son of Abraham, he was Jewish. But being physically related to Christ is not enough, it's not enough to be Jewish physically related to Christ.
And that is the greater blessing and limitlessness of Christ’s spiritual family. The central lesson of this text is this. Who are my mother? And who are my brothers? 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.” Physical family, therefore is a source of immense joy and security, and blessedness spiritual family is a source of greater joy, and security and blessedness. The essential aspect is that you would hear the word of God and obey. You want to know who are Christ’s mother and brothers and sisters, those who hear the gospel, and obey it; those who hear the word of God and cherish it as it actually is the word of God, which is at work among those who believe around the world. Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven. This is not salvation by works, not at all, but it's a natural out-flowing of a heart that hears and receives the Word and lives accordingly. “Whoever Jew or Gentile hears the word of God, and obeys it, he is my brother and sister and mother.” This is the higher blessing of the family of God.
The Kingdom of God is a Royal Family
Now, therefore, we learn from this text that the kingdom of God is a royal family. Look at Matthew 17:24 and following, "After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum the collectors of the two drachma tax came to Peter and asked, ‘Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?’ ‘Yes, he does’, he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the Earth collect duty and taxes, from their own sons or from others?’ ‘From others,’ Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,’ Jesus said to him. ‘But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line, take the first fish you catch, open its mouth, you'll find a four drachma coin in it, take it and use it to pay for my tax and yours.’” Now I know you're wondering, where is that in April, when I need it? Oh, that every fish would have a check in its mouth, and I could use it to pay my IRS bill, but this was a special kind of tax. It was the tax, you had to pay in order to go to the temple and Jesus said, "Let's stop and realize what the kingdom of heaven is. It's a royal family. “Do kings charge their sons to get into their own home? No, you are sons of God. You don't need to pay this tax. Ultimately. But so that we may not offend them, pay it. But in the end, in the kingdom, you will have free access to the house of your father. You can come and go because you are children of the King.” Do you see the logic of Matthew 17, children of the King? The kingdom of God is a royal family. John Calvin said this. Some people say that the Gospel was given to us, to help us understand the world but I say that the world was given to us to help us understand the Gospel, and the family is one of the greatest teaching tools you'll ever find to help instruct what the gospel promises — that when you believe you are adopted into a family and you have a father, and you have brothers and sisters. Every physical relationship has significance. God ordained that all of us have physical mothers and fathers, and that the earth would be filled with the image of God as a result of those marriages.
But every marriage has a higher spiritual analogy, the husband and the wife relationship, is like Christ and the church, a perfect relationship of love and commitment. So also the family reflects higher to the Kingdom of Heaven. There's an immense privilege to being in the family of God. In John 1:11, Jesus said, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. Children born not of natural descent nor of human decision or a husband's will but born of God. And the word became flesh. And made His dwelling among us, and we beheld His glory. The glory of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth, Jesus took on a human body, that we might become children of God, adopted into his royal family. And so Hebrews 2:11, and following says, "Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family, so Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” He's not ashamed to call you brother or sister, and He took on flesh and blood, that He might lay it down on the cross in your place as an atoning sacrifice for your sins, that the offense that blocks you being a child of God, might be removed forever. And that you might be adopted into his family that He might be your great and merciful high priest. He's not ashamed to have you in his family. And so therefore, this was proclaimed after Christ resurrection. You remember when Mary is holding on to Jesus and Jesus says, “Don't hold on to me for I have not yet ascended to my father. But go instead to my brothers and tell them, I'm returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Could it be clearer now that I'm raised from the dead? They are my brothers and my God is theirs and my father is theirs.” They're in the very family of God. And it's perfected in glory, when you get a resurrection body, just like his. You live forever, then will this adoption be made perfect forever. In Romans 8:29, "For those whom God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He Christ might be the first born among many brothers.” This is the royal family of God, that's what the kingdom of heaven is. It's a royal family.
Now, there's some advantages to membership. Are you intrigued. Are you interested? What are the advantages to membership? Well, there's some earthly advantages. Peter said, “We've left our families to follow you, what then will there be for us?” And Jesus said in Mark 10 and following, “I tell you the truth. No one who has left home, or brothers, or sister, or mother, or father, or children, or fields for me and the Gospel will fail to receive a 100 times as much in this present age. Homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and field and with them persecutions, and in the age to come, eternal life. I'm going to give you a personal word of testimony.” I have been all over the world. And I have found people who didn't know me at all before I first met them who have welcomed me into their homes, who have embraced me as a long lost brother. Who have fed me their best food, who have given me clean bedding. Who have prayed for me, in my work, and have sent me off with a blessing, and I never knew him. But because you’re a brother or sister in Christ, you belong to a royal family, and you can reap its benefits now. When we come here to church on Sunday, these are your brothers and sisters in Christ, and they would bless you with what they have physically, they will strengthen you, they will pray for you if you need something, they will give it to you. This is the truest brotherhood there is. Liberal theology gives a shortcut to the cross. They went beyond it. “We're already fatherhood of God, brotherhood of men.” No, no, no. Only through the cross does this happen, through faith in Jesus Christ we are then adopted into the true family of God.
What kind of application can we take from this? First, concerning your physical family, praise God for the blessings of your family, praise God, your earthly family is one of the greatest blessings that God ever made. I would urge you just simply stop and thank God for the family. You were born into, or the family God's given you now in your adult years, thank God for it. Realize that Christ is not denigrating physical family here at all, He's actually elevating it by using an analogy to talk about the Kingdom of Heaven. Family is a noble thing. Cherish your family and be faithful to your family obligations. Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right, honor them. Christian parents, your highest reward, your highest blessing, your highest obligation is to lift your children up from being your physical family members that they might be also, your spiritual family members, that you might lead them to Christ.
Don't leave it to others, don't leave it to VBS Sunday school or any other way, but evangelize your own children and bring them into a full knowledge of Jesus Christ through the gospel. There is no greater privilege than seeing your children walk in the Lord. God has no grandchildren. Just because you have a godly father or mother, it doesn't mean you're going to heaven. Just because you had somebody who set a good example for you and walk with the Lord, doesn't mean you're going there; you must be born again, into the Kingdom of Heaven. A warning to parents, you probably know it already. Your children may break your heart, they may not come to faith in Christ. We can't compel that new birth, we can't. Realize that your final highest allegiance is not to your parents and it's not to your children or your siblings, it is to Christ and to the truth of his gospel. I'm not promising you that all of your children or all of your relatives will become true spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ. Oh, I wish that it were true, as Paul did. I would give anything to see it happen, but it isn't necessarily guaranteed. Therefore, as Baptists we do not baptize infants, but as Baptists we evangelize our children that they might receive the blessings of the spiritual family.
Concerning the spiritual family, praise God that Jesus is not ashamed to call you a brother. He's going to own you on judgement day, and say he or she is mine, here is my brother. Isn't that something right in the text, “Here is my brother, here is my sister.” That will be worth your soul on Judgment Day, that Jesus would say that he is mine, she is mine, and He will take it very personally when any one in this world helps you along your way. The King will say to those on his right, “Come, you are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom, prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. Whenever you have done for the least of these my brothers, you've done to me.” Therefore, we ministered to the Montagnard, the Dega because they were our brothers and we gave of our material possessions to help them. In the end, the highest blessings are waiting for us that we might see each other perfect holy and blameless and be in the kingdom. Can I ask you a question concerning your own soul? Have you been born again into this family? Jesus said in John 3, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh. But that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." You must be born again if you want the benefits of the kingdom of heaven.