In Luke 8, Jesus is surrounded by a crowd of people who want to see him, touch him, and be healed by him. Word had gotten out about the miracles being performed by him and curiosity runs rampant throughout the cities and villages through which he travels.
He shares parables, one about the Sower, another about the Lamp. He challenges those crowding around him to do more than just be curious or seek to be able to say, “I saw Jesus,” or, “I was there when…” He encourages them to own the faith that is being planted in their hearts. Let it take root, be bold to live it out and don’t hide it from the world.
The people continue to press in, wanting more, wanting everything He is willing to give them.
Then his mom and brothers show up, wanting to talk to him about something. They try to get through the crowd to Jesus, but cannot because the people surrounding him are literally smashed hip-to-hip and shoulder-to-shoulder. And if you know anything about Middle-Eastern culture (Shoot, if you have ever ridden on a subway!) then you know they aren’t about to part and let someone go through just because they politely say, “excuse me!” If you want to get through the crowd, you have to fight to do so.
So the disciples, seeing Mary and the boys’ frustration, try to help. “Your mother and brothers are standing outside. They want to see you.”
Now, for a long time Jesus’ response seemed kind of sassy to me. Out of place, even. But today as I read this passage and compared it with a couple of modern-language translations (this often helps clarify difficult passages) I saw something different. Jesus refused to turn away from the desperate, searching crowd pressing in to him, begging and demanding to receive blessing and teaching from him. He said to the disciples, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the Word of God and do it.”
I don’t believe Jesus was dismissing his mother or his brothers. I believe his words were spoken for the benefit of the crowd. In essence, he was telling them…
“You matter. You are loved. You are important to me, as important as anyone else I have ever known…including my own family. You have my full attention as long as you need it.”
He knew the hearts of those surrounding them, their desire to learn the Word of God and please their Heavenly Father. They wanted to be made better, to know what they were doing wrong and be taught how to live in a way that honored and pleased God. And that attitude of humility, of strength and determined pressing in to the only One who could provide what their souls needed, captured the full attention of Jesus…so much so that he told his Mom and brothers to, in my words, “Hold tight for a sec, I’m busy and this is something that can’t wait.”
How does that make you feel? I tell you what, it brings me such a sense of belonging. To imagine that my seeking after him, asking for wisdom and wanting everything he has for me, captures his attention so much that he will tell his own mama to wait…
This seals the deal for me, that no distraction or activity is more important than pressing in to Jesus. No social event, no social media, no time-consuming “what-have-you” that is done to “fill time” is a better use of my time than finding out how to know my Savior more intimately and use the gifts He has given me to bring glory and honor to him. It doesn’t mean I don’t relax or enjoy reading a good blog. (Hello!) It means that everything I do is funneled through the sieve of my relationship with God. That I purpose and do my best to live without wasted time. In the words of Brother Lawrence…
Or, “Lord of all blogs and Facebook memes, make me a saint by writing only from your inspiration and not to gain attention for myself.”
Or, “Lord of all craft rooms and boxes of paint, make me saint by creating beautiful things that remind us of You and by cleaning up my mess.”
Or even, “Lord of all books and overloaded shelves, make me a saint by reading great words that draw me closer to you and help me understand the Great Story you are writing over us.”
I could go on and on…insert your favorite way to relax or have down-time and just see how, maybe, God can use it…use you doing it…to refine you and draw you closer to Jesus. To give you an opportunity to have His full attention because He sees your pursuit of wisdom and spiritual maturity and HE HONORS IT. He honors it by turning His face toward you and talking to you as if you are the only person in the room.
Jesus’ actions in this chapter tell me something very important…
Obedience is thicker than blood.
May we find ways to weave obedience to the teachings of Jesus and the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the tiny, mundane details of our every day routine! It will be in this that we become a people who truly know how to filter out the noise and live simply…for Him.