Luke 8:19
In comparing the accounts as quoted above, one thing first arrests our attention, that while no one of them speaks of more than "mother and brethren" seeking for Jesus, every one of them finds a place in the tenderness of Christ's reply for the introduction of the word "sister." St. Luke's, the shortest account, nevertheless explains precisely how "the press" of people was what prevented the "mother and brethren" of Jesus reaching him; while the "certain" of the people of St. Luke, and the "one" of St. Matthew, who informed Jesus of the fact, are so very naturally replaced by the "multitude in St. Mark. How these took up the message, and tried to pass it on, pictures itself readily to our familiar knowledge of the ready tongue of a multitude." No one of the evangelists' accounts tell us, however, of what might have been the object of the desire on the part of the mother and brethren of Jesus to "see" or to "speak with" him. It may have been to bring him refreshment for the body; it may have been to warn him of apprehended danger; it may have been to share with nearer position the manifested power and glory and manifestation of the Mighty One whom they had known, as they thought, so well. The significance of the silence on the point may lead us, not uncharitably, to the theory that it was for some reason personal rather to them than to him. The incident described in the passage before us, and which so naturally has arrested our attention and our deep sympathetic feelings so often -

I. SUGGESTS THE DIFFERENCE WHICH CHRIST HIMSELF MARKED BETWEEN PERSONAL LOVE TO HIM AND A MERE LOVE TO HIS PERSON. It is not by this to be understood for a moment that his mother's love to him was a mere love to his Person. But broad and deep is the line which Jesus does himself draw, as though for the help of all whomsoever who should be, between these two things. There is a vast gulf of separation between our natural and our saintly desires. How hard it might seem sometimes to allow for this separating gulf, however! When our agonized meditative thought has led us betimes to say to our inmost self what we would give for a moment's vision of that Holy One in the garb of his human flesh alone; to see that form, to hear that voice, to know what his eye literally looked, to watch the expression of his countenance, to ask him one question personally, to walk across the field by his adorable side, to plant one's step literally in the footprint of his own; and when one has been impelled to think how many millions for that one aged Simeon would now be ready, for such a boon granted, to say, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," and welcomely to close the eyes on earth, and all it ever could have else to show, the words of Jesus here

(1) warn us against a snare, manifest though it may be held to be; and

(2) point us the better, the more excellent way, to learn "to hear and to do the will of God " - of "my Father which is in heaven." Such desires on our part may even take rank among unearthly desires, among saintly desires even; but they are not the saintly desire for a moment to stand in comparison of what Christ here places before us. Though we be not competent to say certainly now that it was any such mere superficial motive on the part of mother and brethren to see Jesus, and to share some reflected glory from his Person, it is competent to us to say that Christ seized the opportunity, at whatever other risk, to say that all personal relationship dwindles in the presence of that living, intrinsic, eternally abiding relationship that constitutes one the mother, another the sister, and millions the brethren of the now invisible One, the Lord Jesus Christ.

II. SUGGESTS THE POSSIBILITY OF REALIZING A CERTAIN FULNESS AND A CERTAIN TENDERNESS IN SUCH RELATIONSHIPS AS CHRIST IS WILLING TO SUSTAIN TOWARD US, AND STATES FORCIBLY THE CONDITIONS NECESSARY THERETO. What is most sacred, what is most tender, what is absolutely most real of earthly and human relationship, is employed to set forth the fulness, the tenderness, the absolute sympathy, that bear witness of not a mere acquaintance with Christ, but of such an acquaintance as is all-pervading, knows no discord, is inspired by no jarring want of harmony, and already bears the stamp of eternity on it, almost fit already to merge into spiritual shape. What reproach the thought gives to all half-heartedness, to all mere interested profession of Christian faith and hope and love! How it repudiates the thought of a mere question of gain to be gotten from Christ, and tramples with just scorn and indignation upon the blasphemy in practice of patronizing Christ! Jesus would have us understand and believe how much it draws his heart towards any one who begins to "hear," as he never heard before, "the Word of God, and to do his Father's will." For want of this the family was once broken up, and only by the restoring of this can its unity be regained. Now, the love which Christ has toward us as sinners, whom he came to seek and to save, when he looked down on us as sinners, and far from "God's Word," is one love. It is the love of commiseration, of God-like compassion, of heavenly mercy. But the love which he condescends to liken to that of mother, sister, brother, and to that to be shown to these, is something else. It is the oneness, the heartfelt sympathy, the fellowship and communion of delight, which they know, yet can never describe, who, happy themselves, know the bliss of resting in the unruffled security and harmony of the family in which they were born, which surrounded them with their first consciousness of life, and in which they have as yet ever lived without a fear, without a want. Jesus Christ wished loudly to declare it in the press, the motley group, the harassed multitude that were around him, that this rule, "to hear the Word of God and do it," was not only the rectifying of everything that could be wrong in the family of man, but also the perfecting of joy in every one who should observe to do it. A crown will make a king or queen; ancestry and accident will make princes and princesses; wealth will make position, however ticklish and uncertain; knowledge and learning will make that wisdom and power which are at any rate somewhat less uncertain; but hearing the Word of God and doing it will make what is immeasurably superior to all these. It will fill up the family of God on earth, will deepen and diffuse pure joy here, and will help fill all heaven above with joy and praise. - B.







Then came to Him His mother and His brethren.
It is the higher kinship of the soul. Christ did not set aside time relationships, but He opened up a far higher view, with which these were in analogy. Men know each other in various relationships; but very few men know themselves. Very few men know one another; but in the degree in which they do, they know each other at different points of the wide extension of man and his relations. A man may know his parentage and his home. That is primary knowledge, and very noble it is. He may know men by their co-operations and partnerships in the affairs of life — that, and only that. He may know men by some similar tastes and pursuits. Artists know artists; musicians know musicians; working men know working men; inventors know inventors. There is a line of sympathy that goes out from all these different points by which men interpret in other people something that they have in themselves. It is a knowledge which consists simply in the attempt to interpret in others something that we have felt in our own selves — to liken ourselves to those around about us. So a man may know his fellow-men in times of great excitement by partizan feeling, by party feeling, or by patriotism. The real relationship, the truest, the highest, while it does not disdain these lower relationships, regards them as external and transient. You may know men as parents, and not know them at all. You may know men as business factors and be utterly outside of them and ignorant of them. You may know men by tastes, by professions, by pursuits, and yet not know them interiorly. You may know men as your countrymen, and as faithful to law and order in times of great confusion; and yet that is exterior knowledge. It is juxtaposition, for the most part. Interiorly, how little does a man know his fellow-men until he has in himself the higher qualities, spiritual and intellectual, and until he interprets the like qualities that are in those around about him! Apply this to the relationship of men with Christ and with God. In the truest and highest sense, not until men rise into those qualities which constitute God can they be said to understand Him. We can understand Him when He thunders, because we can thunder in a small way; we can understand Him when He speaks of Himself as the Creator, because we are mechanicians in a certain way; when He sets His palace in order in the heavens above, when He fills the earth with His glory, when the firmament declares His glory and the earth His handiwork, we can understand all that well enough, because we ourselves are creators, re-arrangers of physical qualities and matter; and so we feel that we have an understanding of God; and we have. But our great wish is that we could understand Him according to our senses all the way through: "Why does He not speak to me? That is the way my children understand me. I wish God would bring Himself down within the scope of my eyes. Why does He not hear me? Why does He not come within the realm of my ear? Why does He not come where I can lay my hand upon Him — thrust it into His side, indeed?" We are always trying to come to a knowledge of God by bringing Him down to a level with our condition; then we think that we should understand Him; but the disciples did not. His brethren and His mother did not, and He was upon the line and level of their physical condition. They were just as far from Him, and just as far from satisfaction in regard to Him, as if they had never seen Him, or as if He had gone early from the cradle to the grave. And to-day men are seeking to know God by ratiocination. They are searching the origin of things, the germs of life, its unfoldings and its philosophy; and all of them are playing round about this great problem of the universe: "Is there a God? Where is He? Who is He? What is He?" The royal road to knowledge is goodness. He that loves, we are told in explicit language, knows God, though He cannot imagine the amplitude of such love. He that only knows the candle knows what the sun is a little bit; but the candle does not give him any conception of the magnitude and majesty and glory of the sun. He that loves here has one letter of the alphabet, as it were, but not the whole literature and philosophy of the Divine nature. This is the highway through which, and only through which, John declares that any man can come to an understanding of God. God is love; love is His constituent element, and no man can understand God that does not understand love. As no man can understand heroism except through the recipiency of, or sensibility to, heroism in himself; as no man can understand good taste except through the foregoing feeling of what is harmonious and beautiful; so it is in regard to the great discernments that reveal God to us.

(H. W. Beecher.)

As this voice came to Christ while He was labouring, so many such voices come to us while we are labouring. One saith, Pleasure would speak with you; another saith, Profit would speak with you; another saith, Ease would speak with you; another saith, A deanery would speak with you; another saith, A bishopric would speak with you; another saith, The court would speak with you. Here is the rule now; if you live by it, then you are kin to Christ. As other kindreds go by birth and marriage, so this kindred goeth by faith and obedience. Hearers are but half kin, as it were m a far degree; but they which hear and do are called His mother, which is the nearest kindred of all. Therefore if you have the deed, then are you kin indeed; there is no promise made to hearers, nor to speakers, nor to readers; but all promises are made to believers or to doers. Again, by this you may learn how to choose your friends. As Christ counted none His kinsmen, but such as "hear the Word of God, and do it"; so we should make none our familiars, but such as Christ counteth His kinsmen. Again, you may see the difference between Christ and the world; Christ calleth the godly His kinsmen, be they never so poor, and we scorn to call the poor our kinsmen, be they never so honest; so proud is the servant above his Master. Again, by this you see how Christ is to be loved; for when He calleth us His mother, He shows us the way to love Him as a mother; for indeed He is the mother of His mother and His brethren too. Again, by this, all vaunting and boasting of kindred is cut off. Glory not in that thou hast a gentleman to thy father, glory not that thou hast a knight to thy brother, but glory that thou hast a Lord to thy brother. Again, by this you may know whether you be kin to Christ; as those priests were shut out of the temple which could not count their genealogy from Aaron, so they shall be shut out of heaven that cannot reckon their pedigree from Christ. Here are the arms now whereby you may show of what house you came. Lastly, by this you may know the devil's kinsmen, and therefore Christ saith, "You are of your father the devil" (John 8:44), showing that the devil and the wicked are as near kin as Christ and the faithful.

(H. Smith.)

From these words of the Lord Jesus I learn that, without repudiating the family relations of earth, He institutes and proclaims the family relations of heaven. As a faithful minister of the gospel said once to a despotic sovereign, "There are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland," explaining how Church and State may live and thrive on the same spot at the same time, giving and receiving help reciprocally, if each will consent to confine itself to its own sphere and exercise only its own functions; so the Scriptures intimate that two families pervade society, both having to a great extent the same persons as members, yet without jealousy or collision, getting and giving reciprocal support. Both families are of God. He has planned and constituted them. To Him they owe their origin, and from Him they receive their laws. A place has been assigned to the one in creation; to the other in redemption. The one is the grand Institute of Nature; the other the grand Institute of Grace. Both are good, each as far as it goes; but the second is deeper, longer, broader, higher than the first. The first is the family for time; the second is the family for eternity.

I. CHRIST IS THE GOSPEL PERMITS THE NATURAL FAMILY, IN ALL ITS INTEGRITY, TO REMAIN UNDISTURBED. Jesus was Himself the member of a family. He received the benefits of that position, and fulfilled its duties. Honour all the pure affections of human nature, for they thrill in the Saviour's breast; loathe all the sins that stain it, for they crucified the Son of God. If you examine the natural affections and instincts of living creatures, you will find that one principle lies like s measuring rod along the whole — utility. These affections are inserted, and inserted such as they are, in the constitution of the creature, because of their usefulness. They are the instruments whereby the Maker works out His own design. Some living creatures, as fishes and certain species of birds, have no perceptible filial or parental affections at all. In their case the instinct is not needed, and therefore is not found. In others, including all the higher grades of the brute creation, the parental affection is developed in great intensity for a short period, and then altogether ceases. A mother that would have shed her blood for her offspring a month ago, when it was feeble, does not know it to-day, at least does not acknowledge it in the herd. The instinct, having served its purpose, is not left dangling after its work is done. Relative affections in human kind expatiate on a wider field, and are more enduring. Here we enter a region in which these affections find room to range; they become, accordingly, manifold and strong. The roots go deeper down in the deeper, richer soil. A short-lived maternal love would not serve the purpose here; and therefore a mother's love in this region is not short-lived. Christ was a perfect man. He was not only perfectly holy, but completely human. He took all our nature without its defects and defilements. He experienced filial and fraternal love. He loved His mother and His brethren with the true affection of a son and a brother. No disciple of Christ is permitted to break the bonds of kindred, and abjure the affections of consanguinity, on the plea of his Master's example or command. Superstition has always shown a tendency to exalt the spiritual relations by crushing the natural; it would build up, according to its own false conception, the family of God on the ruins of the family of man. God did not built up the family in order to pull it down again. As the ordinances of the earlier dispensation were a shadow, and so a prediction, of better things to come in Christ, the natural family is a type, and so a promise, of the spiritual and heavenly.

II. CHRIST IN THE GOSPEL ESTABLISHES, ON THE SAME SPHERE, A NEW SPIRITUAL FAMILY. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; in the new creature a multitude of new affections spring and flow, but being on a higher level, they never run foul of the affections that expatiate on the lower sphere of temporal things. Mind, conscience, immortality, have been imparted to man, and these faculties have free scope for action; but those operations of the higher nature do not in any measure impede the inhalation of air, the circulation of the blood, or any of the other processes which belong to us in common with inferior creatures. Now, as mind, acting in another sphere, comes not into collision with the functions of the body, so the new spiritual affections, which belong to us as Christians, do not interfere with the original affections which belong to us as men. There is a process in agriculture which presents an interesting parallel to the simultaneous and commingling growth of relations for time and relations for eternity in human hearts. A field is closely occupied all over with a growing crop which will soon reach maturity, and will be reaped in this season's harvest. The owner intends that another crop, totally different in kind, shall possess the ground in the following year; but he does not wait till the grain now growing has been reaped — he goes into the field and sows the seed of the new while the old is still growing and green. In some cases a method is adopted which is, from our present point of view, still more suggestive: the seed which shall complete its functions within the present season, and the seed which, springing this year, shall bear its fruit upwards, are mixed together in the same vessel and scattered together on the same ground. Nor does the one lie dormant for a season while the other monopolizes the soil; both spring up at the same, or nearly the same time. The plant for the future germinates at once, but it does not reach maturity till the following year; the plant intended for the present season — the wheat or the barley — grows rapidly and ripens ere the winter come. Lowly, meekly at the roots of the waving grain springs the plant of the future; it passes through its earlier stages while the tall stalks of the wheat are towering over its head. It springs although, the grain is growing on the same spot, and springs better because the grain is growing there. The vigorous growth of another species all around it shelters its feeble infancy; and after the winter has passed, in another season, it starts afresh and comes forth in its own matured strength. Thus the affections and relations that belong to the future spring and grow under the shadow of the affections and relations that belong to the present. Those stars that studded the dark blue canopy of the sky were lovely; often through the weary night did the lone watcher lift his eyes and look upon them. They seemed to him a sort of company, and while he gazed on the bright glancing throng he felt himself for the moment somewhat less lonely. Yet you hear no complaint from that watcher's lips when those stars disappear; for the cause of their disappearance is the break of day. Either the many fond individual companionships which cheer disciples in the night of their pilgrimage will remain with them, as bright particular stars in the day of eternity, or they will fade away before its dawning; if they remain, their company in holiness will be a thousand fold more sweet; if they disappear, it will not be that those joys have grown more dim, but that we do not observe them in the light of a more glorious day. Two practical lessons, one in the form of a warning, and the other in the form of an encouragement, depend from the subject visibly, and claim a notice at the close.

1. Reverting again, for a moment, to the analogy of seed for the future sown and springing under the shade of a crop that is growing for the present season, we may gather from nature a caution which is needful and profitable in the department of grace. When this season's crop, amidst which next season's seed was sown in spring, has been cut in harvest and carried home, I have seen the field in whole or in part destitute of the young plants which ought at that time to have covered its surface, the hope of future years. Sometimes after this season's harvest is reaped, no living plant remains in the ground. As you walk over it at the approach of winter, you see rotting stubble, the decaying remnants of one harvest, but no young plants, the promise of another year. Why? Because the first crop has grown too rank in its robust maturity, and overlaid the second in its tender youth. The principle of this lesson applies to the business of life as well as the reciprocal affections of kindred. Beware! Open your hearts and take the warning in. Have you hope for pardon and eternal life in the son of God, the Saviour? Then bear in mind that, under the shade of your city-traffic and your home-joys, a tender plant is growing, native of a softer clime — a plant whose growth is your life, whose decay your ruin, in the great day; a plant that needs indeed the shelter of honest industry and pure family affections, but dies outright under the choking weight of their overgrowth; and see to it that the profits and pleasures of time do not, by their excess, kill the hope for eternity. What is a man profited although he gain the whole world, if he lose his own soul?

2. It is ever true, according to the symbolic prophecy of the Apocalypse, that the earth helps the woman — that the occupations and affinities and friendships of this life may and do cherish the growth of grace in the soul.

(W. Arnot.)

I. THEY DESIRED TO SEE CHRIST. This their desire might proceed —

1. From a proud and vainglorious principle, from which the best of men are not entirely free. They might want to make it known that they were related to Christ, a person followed and talked of, who preached such heavenly doctrines, and performed such astonishing miracles.

2. From an undue, and, indeed, mercenary regard to the health of Christ's body and safety of His person.

3. From natural love, without any other design but to please themselves with the company and conversation of one with whom they were so nearly connected, and for whom they had so great regard. Religion is no enemy to natural affection.

4. There might also be a mixture of spiritual affection. Yet, though the principle might be good, their conduct was reprovable, the application being unseasonable; and the check that Christ gave them should teach us, that no intrusion or solicitation should draw us from the work of the Lord.

II. THOSE WHO DESIRE TO SEE CHRIST DO NOT ALWAYS TAKE RIGHT METHODS TO OBTAIN THEIR END.

1. Some, through an improper humility or servile dread, keep at a distance from Christ, even when they have earnest desires to see Him, which desires will never be answered without nearer approaches to Him.

2. Others seek Christ in duties and ordinances, in the streets and broadways, when they ought to see Him in their own closets. They seek Him abroad, but not at home, whereas the kingdom of Christ is within us, and where should the King be but in His kingdom?

3. Others, again, seek Christ out of the Church, who ought to seek Him in it. They "stand without." Let them come in, and seek Christ where He is to be found.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

On these words of our Lord we may remark —

1. That they are not intended to cast a slur on His mother and brethren, or to undervalue the duties men owe to their relations.

2. That we must not allow our regard to our relations to interfere with our duty to God.

3. The sinfulness and folly of all superstitions regard to the Virgin Mary.

4. Nothing but personal obedience and faith can avail for safety.

5. The great love Jesus bears to His true disciples, and the high honour He bestows on them.

(James Foote, M. A.)

— A little sad, wasn't it? that His mother and brethren were not sitting about Him. For, as another evangelist says, "He looked round on those that were about Him." His disciples, who were learning of Him, were nearest to Him naturally, and His mother and His brethren were outside. It is a sad thing for any of us to be called by His name, and not know Him. It is the business of our human being to know Christ, and nothing else is our business. You observe Christ is always talking about His Father in heaven. You would think He knew nothing else. Did He, then, repudiate the earthly mother, and the earthly brother and sister? No verily. But it is a profound, absolute fact that our relation to God is infinitely nearer than any relation by nature.

(George Macdonald.)

Kinship with Christ is not a matter of genealogy or of Church position, or the men around Him would have had it; not of birth, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man. Kindred with Christ is a matter of nature, and nature can never be tested but by action. If a man is a partaker of the Divine nature that will show itself, and the will that will rule him will no longer be his own, but the will of his Father who is in heaven.

(W. Arthur, M. A.)

We have here two things, a character and a blessing,

I. THE CHARACTER. "These which hear the Word of God and do it."

II. THE BLESSING. "The same are my brother and sister and mother."

(Dean Vaughan.)

(An Epiphany Sermon): — Successive steps in Christ's revelation of Himself.

1. At twelve years' old, though He must be about His Father's business, yet He remained subject for the present.

2. At marriage-festival — "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" a clearer Epiphany, and yet "Mine hour is not yet come."

3. His friends, His mother, seek Him. He utters words which show that in the higher spiritual relationship claimed for His disciples there is no room for sex; the tie of brotherhood and motherhood a faint type only of the close communion between the redeemed and the Redeemer.

4. At last, dying, He commends His mother to the disciple, "Behold thy mother," as if to show that the human relationship had ceased for Himself and her. Natural relationships are swallowed up, the spiritual eclipsing them. Results of acknowledging this fact.

I. DISCOMFORT.

II. CONSOLATION.

III. PRACTICAL EFFECT ON OUR LIVES, viz., our future relationship will be decided not by our present earthly ones, but by our birth of God.

(O. Warren, M. A.)

I. THE SPIRITUALITY OF CHRIST'S MISSION AND HIS ABSORPTION IN IT. Affections, even the purest, must be sacrificed when they intrenched upon His liberty to do what He had come into the world to do. "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." Think of the loneliness of Christ. While holding intercourse with His friends at Bethany, or surrounded by His disciples, or pressed upon by the crowd, He was yet alone, always alone — alone in His knowledge of the full meaning of His life's work, alone in the endurance of His bitterest pain, alone in the constancy and grandeur of His unfailing purpose.

II. THE LARGE-HEARTEDNESS OF CHRIST. He had two great lessons to teach men — The Fatherhood of God, and the common brotherhood of man How much larger our hearts would be, how much more generous our sympathies, if we shared more largely His Spirit of universal love.

III. THE NATURE OF KINSHIP WITH HIM. We all hear, and we all may do the Word of God. We have, then, set before us in the text a privilege in which we all may share — a sacred relationship with Christ into which we all may enter. Application:

1. Is there anywhere any poor man sorely tried, buffeted by circumstances, self-despising and despised of others, but who desires with all his heart to do the will of God. Rise up, and be of good courage, for thou art Christ's brother.

2. Thou art perhaps a widow left alone and poor to struggle with the world; or a mother with the anxious care of a family upon thy shoulders; or a daughter whose life is passing away in some joyless home, and in devotion to an invalid parent whose petulance is thy daily cross. Be patient, and struggle on. Bear the cross, and do the duty, because it is God's will. And remember for thine encouragement in every hour of trial that thou art Christ's sister.

3. And O, aged mother's heart, bereft of thy children, and refusing to be comforted because they are not, think that the Lord of life and glory condescends to call Himself thy son. He will be the comfort and stay of thy declining days, the prop of thy feebleness, the companion of thy loneliness.

(J. R. Bailey.)

I. THE CONNECTION WHICH IS HERE PROCLAIMED.

1. In regard to the connection, the first point is as to the parties between whom it subsists. On the one side, we have a personage of inconceivable greatness and power. Is it some glorious angel whom God made as a specimen of what the Creator can do? No. It is one who is above the angels, and concerning whom it is written, "Let all the angels of God worship Him." This is one to whom it can be said, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." It is the eternal Son, the heir and Lord of all. It is Jehovah Himself, God manifest in the flesh! On the other hand, we have a portion of the human family. We have a company of dependent and powerless beings, whose breath is in their nostrils, and who have nothing of their own. Between Him, so great, and them, so mean, there is now the affinity mentioned in the text. He, the blessed and only Potentate, discovers and recognizes in them His brother, His sister, His mother!

2. The next point we shall inquire into is the nature of the connection.(1) It is a close connection. There are many relations which belong to the constitution of human society. There are, for example, the relations of magistrate and subjects, master and servants, teacher and pupils, and so on. But the closest relation of all is the family relation. The family relation is fraught with intimacies which are known to no other. This is the relation which is declared in the text between Christ and His people. Christ and His people are embraced in the same family circle, the word being taken in its most limited acceptation. They are not remotely allied to Him. They are His nearest kindred. They are His brother, His sister, His mother. No tie of blood can be closer than that by which He and they are connected.(2) It is an endearing connection. Love wells out of it — reciprocal love. We see, then, that between Jesus and His followers there is a connection which is fitted to give rise to love — which is fitted, we may say, to give rise to it in no ordinary degree, and to produce a most peculiar and devoted attachment.(3) It is a connection that cannot be transferred. We are familiar with connections whose transference is easy, and is constantly taking place. There is the connection between master and servant. The master may be changed; and so may be the servant. There is the connection between bosom friends. He who is my friend now may become my foe in a little while, and I may get another friend in his room. Although I may change my friend, I cannot change my mother. Although I may change my servant, I cannot change my son. The connection between Christ and His people, then, is fixed. He cannot be supplanted in His relation to them, nor they in their relation to Him.(4) It is a connection that cannot be destroyed. Recent occurrences in the history of the world have strikingly shown that the connection between a sovereign and his subjects is perishable, and may be suddenly dissolved. But, happen what may, brother and sister will continue to be brother and sister, and a man's mother is his mother as long as she lives. Neither accidents nor efforts can sever the family tie. Death, indeed, may come, and, in one sense, put an end to it. But even death cannot prevail against the bond by which Christ and His disciples are united. He liveth for evermore, and so do they.

3. Our third point is the advantage with which the connection is fraught to Christ's people. The Lord is laid under obligations by it, which will redound to their benefit. A brother, a sister, a mother, have peculiar claims, which no relative, with a conscience and a heart, will disregard.(1) Is the disciple a brother? He has a claim upon the Saviour as such. One of the most emphatic declarations of Scripture tells of "a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother." When a man is in straits of any kind, who so likely as his brother to relieve him, if that brother be able? Now, then, let the Christian rejoice that he is the brother of the Lord. Let him remember it in trouble, and let him not be cast down. The Lord Himself remembers it, and says to him, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee."(2) Does Christ declare that the disciple is His sister? A sister has claims even stronger than a brother. A sister is weak, and needs a guardian, and an arm to lean upon. A sister is timid, and needs a companion who has boldness and decision, that he may lead her forth, take her through the crowd, and encourage her by the way. A sister needs a prompt and powerful champion, that she may be defended from insult, and that her purity and honour may be cared for. And a sister turns to her kind and manly brother as the guardian, the bold companion, and the prompt and powerful champion that she needs. When Christ says that His disciple is His sister, He gives His people to understand that He is all this to them. And O how He cherishes and tends them!(3) Christ says that His disciple is His mother. This also has great significance. It speaks to us of a son who devotes the vigorous labour of his prime to win a subsistence for his mother, and to make for her a comfortable and happy home.

4. A fourth point is the formation of the tie between Christ and His people. How is it constituted? How, then, is the rank of His mother and His brethren acquired? The question is answered in the following verse — "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother." It is as much as to say to us all, "Do the will of My father in heaven, and ye shall become very dear to Me; ye shall acquire the strong claims of the closest relationship." But what must we understand by the will of His Father? We have His own definition of the will of His Father, when He says, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." After Christ's ascension, the Apostle John announced the will of the Father, saying, " This is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ." And is this the way to become members of the family of Jesus? Is this the way to do, if we wish to be the brother, and sister, and mother of the Lord? This is the way. He comes to us in the Father's name, with gracious proposals, as the sinner's Friend. Let us bid Him welcome; let us accept His offers; let us yield to His love. So shall we be His: and He shall be ours. "To as many as receive Him, to them gives He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name." It is by faith that we enter the family of Jesus.

5. Our last point is the evidence of the tie. For this we go again to the same verse: — "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother." That which creates the tie, also manifests it. Take notice, says our Lord, take notice of the person that does My Father's will, and believes in Me; take notice of My follower, My disciple! The same is My brother, and sister, and mother. There is a family likeness between Christ and His people. The doing of the Father's will is a family characteristic. It is a feature by which a member of the Church of the first-born may be infallibly discovered. Christ, the chief, the great Brother of the household, is the image of the Father. And of all the members of the blessed household it can be said that, "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." One remark we must add here, lest the mother and the brethren of Jesus be discouraged. It is not our doctrine, it is not the doctrine of Scripture, or of the text, that those only who attain to a perfect fulfilment of the Will of the Father can claim to be the kindred of the Lord. His meaning was, and the true doctrine is, that his brother, and sister, and mother, are they who have entered the school, who are learning the lesson, and have begun to practise the duty, of obedience to the will of the Father.

II. The second branch of our subject relates to THE DELIGHT WHICH JESUS HAS IN THIS CONNECTION. The text is expressive of feelings of complacency and satisfaction. It was a burst of affection, the utterance of a loving and joyful heart, when He exclaimed, "Behold My mother and My brethren." To illustrate the delight which Jesus has in the affinity between Him and His people, it may be well to show what is His behavour towards them.

1. He visits them. It happens sometimes in a family of humble rank, that one of the members rises far above the rest in point of circumstances and position. And it happens also, sometimes, in such cases, that the great and wealthy member of the family forgets his poor kinsmen, and seldom or never goes to see them. But Christ does not forget His people. He came and saw them often during the old dispensation. He has never been long away from them. One visit, most notable for the wonders of love it exhibited, was His advent in the flesh. It had been described beforehand, but the half was not told. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory." When He was departing, He said, "I will see you again." The family of Jesus, like other families, has its meetings; the members often assemble; and now and then, at stated periods, they hold high festival together. On such occasions He, the exalted Brother to whom all look up, is never away. Absentees there may be, but He is not one of them; His place is never empty. Are they in darkness? He visits them and gives them light.

2. He sends gifts to them. He, the Brother of great possessions, sends gifts to His lowly kindred. All power is His, both in heaven and in earth. Do they need gold? He sends them gold, tried in the fire. Do they need raiment? He furnishes them with white raiment, that they may be clothed — robes of righteousness, garments of salvation. Do they need meat and drink? He gives them bread of life, wine and milk, honey out of the rock. We have spoken of their family feasts, but these would be feasts of emptiness, were it not for His bounty. What shall we say more? To express everything in a word, He sends them the Holy Spirit. That heavenly gift is completely subject to His administration.

3. He dwells among them. It is customary for the members of a family to dwell together. They group with each other in the same abode. It may seem strange to say that Christ dwells with His friends, after we have said that He visits them. But both are true. In this case there is no real inconsistency. Just before His ascension He declared to His disciples, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world." I am going away, yet will I never be absent. "In Salem is His tabernacle, and His dwelling-place in Zion."

4. He acknowledges them. "Behold My mother and My brethren." Behold these fishermen, these peasants, these obscure Galileans, who receive My doctrine. These are My relatives; see, this is the family to which I belong. And was not that a signal acknowledgment of kinsmanship that He gave in the case of the three children, when, before Nebuchadnezzar, and his princes and captains, and the vast Babylonian concourse, He walked in the midst of the furnace along with them? He promised that He would confess His brethren before His Father and before His holy angels. He is confessing them now in His continual intercession at God's right hand.

(A. Gray.)

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