Scripture Text: Matthew 12:46–50
Many people want to know the will of God and it is important to know God’s will. It is also important to do God’s will. It is not just a good idea to do God’s will, it is a necessity, particularly if we are His people! Many people want to know all of God’s will at once, but that’s not how God usually works. He reveals to us what He wants us to know sometimes one step at a time—each move a step of faith—and allows us to continue to trust Him. Oftentimes, we want God to give us specifics, such as where to work, where to live, whom to marry, etc. The important thing is that, as we wait for His direction, we should be doing the good that we know we ought to do. While we wait, we may ask what is God’s will for us right now? What is God’s will for His church, right now? These are some of the questions that come to mind when I think about His will. Fortunately, the Bible tells us a lot about God’s desire for His children. God is not trying to hide His will from us. In fact, He has already given us many directions in His Word. This passage is a great way to begin a discussion on the will of God, because Jesus Himself spoke these words to His disciples. He emphasized how obedience to God’s will is indicative of us being His sons and daughters and co-heirs of the Kingdom of God.
Being In God’s Family Means Doing His Will
Who is your family? Most of us may immediately think of our “blood” relatives, such as our earthly mother and father, our brothers and sisters, our cousins and so on. People say that blood is thicker than water, meaning those family relationships mean more to us than any other relationships. There are some exceptions, of course, but our family connections are usually stronger than any other relationships. But should they? Jesus had a different view. Blood is thicker than water, but it is not just anyone’s blood. The blood of Christ makes us one family of God that supersedes any other relationships. Following Jesus means we are part of the same family – the family of God. But, Jesus took it further than simply saying you are in God’s family. For Him, those who follow Him and do the will of God are His real family. Look at the following verse.
Matthew 12:50 (HCSB) For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother.
Whoever does the will of God belongs to Jesus’ family. This means that if you want to be in the family of God, if you want to know Him, you will do the will of God. It is not just about knowing the will of God. This passage says obeying God is crucial. That may be a hard pill to swallow for some people, but that is what Jesus said. Maybe a question would be, what is the will of God? If we are expected to “do His will”, then we need to know what His will is. His will includes that no one perish, that the world be saved, and that people repent and turn to His Son for salvation. Simply put, the will of God is for you to repent of sin and to trust in Christ as Lord and Savior. If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, then you are not in the will of God. If you are not forgiven of sin through the blood that Jesus shed on the cross, then you are not in the will of God. Outside of salvation, though, there are things that God wants His family to do. Jesus said that not everyone who declares Him Lord is saved. Look at the following.
Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because not all do the will of God. Doing the will of God, not the will of the world, demonstrates to Whom we belong. Doing the will of God shows that we belong to the family of God. Have you done God’s will? Are you continuing to do God’s will? If you want to know God’s will, then you have to first know Him. If you know Him, then you will not only know God’s will, you will then do His will. You will be obedient to His will. How can you be obedient? One key component to finding God’s will is to seek the input of godly people in your life. It is vital that you surround yourself with godly people, as they will be instrumental in helping you discern God’s will for your life. The church is uniquely designed to help you with doing God’s will. The more you involve yourself with a community of believers, the greater your chances will be of finding godly men and women who can help you discern God’s will. Know God. Know God’s family. Know God’s will. Do God’s will.
Doing The Will of God Isolates Us from Earthly Relationships
If you lived during Jesus’ time, and you were Jewish, and you heard Him say these words to His mother and siblings, you would probably be shocked. We might still be shocked if someone said this today. If you were in Jesus’ biological family, you might have been angry with Him. Since the family was the most significant of ancient relationships, Jesus’ point was important. Even the most fundamental human relationships are not as important as our loyalty to God. Human kinship does not take priority over spiritual kinship, and Jesus was busy ministering to His spiritual family. But, we may be able to take this a step further. Being in the family of God and doing His will may isolate us from our earthly relationships. Look at the following verses.
Matthew 12:46–47 (HCSB) 46 He was still speaking to the crowds when suddenly His mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to speak to Him. 47 Someone told Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to You.”
It is probably significant that Matthew, Mark and Luke told us that Jesus’ mother and brothers were “outside.” If so, Jesus’ disciples, those who do the will of His Father in heaven, are “inside” with Him. It was probably the case that Jesus’ family did not want to go in rather than they not being able to get in. Elsewhere in the New Testament we read that Jesus’ family did not always support Him or His mission. Matthew does not say what Mary thought of Jesus at this point, but Mark reveals that Jesus’ family believed He was “out of his mind”. This may have included His mother, Mary (Mark 3:20-21). And John also wrote that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him. Look at the following.
John 7:3–5 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.
Perhaps at the time Jesus’ mother and brothers were concerned over the growing conflict between Him and the Pharisees, that He was getting into trouble with the authorities. Maybe, Jesus’ actions were causing some unpleasantness with the rest of the family. We do not know what they wanted to say to Him while they were outside. What we do know is that when Jesus was told of their presence and their desire to speak with Him, He used this as an opportunity to speak of His true family. Jesus was following His Heavenly Father’s will by making disciples and by suffering on the cross for them. His mission of following His Father’s will put Him at opposition with many people, including His earthly family. Thus, to be in the will of God may put you in conflict with our earthly family and friends. To follow Jesus and to be in His family may mean that your earthly family is “outside” of your real family. You may disagree over your priorities. You may endure hardship with those whom you have cared the most. You may even experience rejection because you chose to follow Jesus. Jesus did not say our earthly relationships have no value, but they must be placed in the proper priority. Our relationship to God and obedience to Him must come first. Our lives should be ordered by the values of God’s Kingdom, which will bring you into conflict with others.
Doing The Will of God Means Spending Time With Jesus
I was married to my wife on Saturday May 10, 2003 at Park Street Baptist Church in Columbia, SC. I remember the day very well. I have the ring. I have the marriage certificate. All of these things affirm that I am married to my wife. What if, I were married just as all of those things indicate, but I never spent time with my wife? What if, I were married and never really talked with her (not just to her!), I never spent quality time with her, or never even asked what she wanted (her will!)? I might call her my wife, but I am not going to know her, and I certainly will not know her will. The same is true for God. If we do not spend time with Him, we will not know His will. Look at the following verses.
Matthew 12:48–49 (HCSB) 48 But He replied to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!”
This might not be obvious in the passage! If there was a crowd of people with Jesus and some of those were His disciples, what were they doing “inside” with Him? Remember, His biological family was waiting outside. They were not inside with Him. We also know from other passages, that they did not always support Him or His mission. What were those who were supposedly doing the will of God doing inside with Jesus? Mark’s account of this event shows us that the disciples, and possibly others, were sitting around Jesus. They were spending time with Jesus, listening to Him teach them.
Mark 3:31–34 31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!”
Those who were doing the will of God were sitting around Him. Those who had chosen to follow Jesus were with Him. These were His true family and they were doing the will of God. The better we get to know a person, the more acquainted we become with his or her desires. For example, the more time I spend with my wife, the better I will know her. The better I know her, the more I will know what she wants, what her plans are, and what her will is. The same is true of our relationship to God. As we walk with the Lord, spending time with Him, we will find that we are given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We know Him, and that helps us to know His will. We can get so caught up with wanting to know what to do that we miss knowing God Himself. The greatest will of God is for you to know Him – for you to be in a relationship with Him. Jesus said in Matthew and Mark’s account of this event that “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” We have already mentioned that doing the will of God is indicative of being in the family of God. Luke, however, clarifies Jesus’ statement about what it meant to “do the will of God”. Look at his account of this event.
Luke 8:19–21 19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
Luke wrote, “My mother and my brothers [His family!] are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Thus, it is safe to assume that doing the will of God is synonymous with hearing His Word, obeying His Word, and doing His Word. Being in the family of God means that we are listening to God and obeying His Word. The “will of God” throughout Matthew, means obedience to God’s commands by following Jesus.
In closing, if you want to know the will of God, what do you need to do? Be a part of His family. Get to know Him. Spend time with Him. Make your relationship with God the most important one you have. Get to know His Word. What does it mean to be a member of God’s family? One thing it means is that we will do His will. If you want to do the will of God, what do you need to do? Obey His Word. Immerse yourself in the written word of God; saturate your mind with it. And pray that the Spirit of Christ would make you so new that the spillover would be good, acceptable, and perfect — the will of God. This is good news. Thanks be to God. Amen!
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.