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.” He replied to him, “Who is 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.”

 Matthew 12: 46-50

 I trust everyone had a pleasant Family Day (for those provinces that celebrate with a day off) and you had time to spend with those who make up your family.

In Matthew 12 Jesus poses the question “who is my mother and who are my brothers?” This was asked not because he had a faulty memory and couldn’t remember those of the household he grew up in but given the history of his family and the way they had tried to dissuade him from the ministry he was engaged with, he likely had a feeling this was to be another one of those “serious talks about his future” (see John 7:5, Mark 3:21). During his earthly ministry many of the family and friends he had grown up with didn’t believe and actively opposed him. They either thought he needed to be guided by the hand as though he were a child or pushed into the spotlight to take advantage of his popularity, but they didn’t really understand what he was trying to accomplish.

In this passage Jesus is asking if family is more philosophical than biological and his conclusion is that those who align with his purpose are truly his mother, brothers, and friends. Of course, this doesn’t mean he abandoned his biological family, at the very end of his earthly life he wanted to make sure his mother was looked after and from the cross says to Mary and John, “Dear woman, here is your son and to the disciple, here is your mother.”  His earthly family was important but so too were the family members comprised of prostitutes, lepers, the infirm, doubting, slow on the uptake and anyone else who chose to walk in the same direction he was walking.

As I think back over my life, I realize that my family has extended well beyond my brothers, sister, mother, father, children, grandchildren, and wife. There have been many along the way, unrelated by blood but family by choice who have been sources of encouragement, conviction, support, and challenge. They have helped me; I have helped them and together we have sojourned together on this third rock from the sun. Some I have played hockey with, worked alongside on service projects, sat beside in church, or lived in the same neighbourhood but the ones who are my closest family are those I can call brother and sister. They are the ones who are struggling along the same path to eternity that I find myself on. Sometimes I push them and sometimes they push me, but we are all family because we share the same Father. As I write this today, I realize that each of those I am addressing is my family. We have shared experiences, conversations, joys, and sorrows and along the way have become family…..and yet there is room for more. My newfound family may be laying in a doorway, hopped up on meth, struggling with addiction, unsure of the future, languishing in prison or standing in line at the grocery store just waiting for me to say hello.


Jesus came from a large family, (at least four brothers and two sisters along with Mary and Joseph) but in this passage, he is saying there is still room for more and right up to his dying breath, he was ready to accept one more thief into his family.  Peter says that he is not slow in returning but is waiting for just one more (paraphrase) “not wanting anyone to perish but for everyone to come to repentance.” There is room in the family!

May we open our hearts and lives to those around us. Not only those we have known for years and not only those related by birth but to all who God calls his children.




Major MikeHoeft

Area Commander PRA Division/ Social Mission Regional Director
Prairie Division
The Salvation Army