Hot on the heels of of all this talk about hearing and listening to the word of God, Jesus once again drops a bomb shell on those following him. This thread of hearing and obeying is throughout this eighth chapter of Luke. He has laid this teaching down with parables, by quoting from the Old Testament, and now he gives the biggest lesson of all. His mom shows up.
Usually when mom shows up, two things happen: either you are busted and it is time to go home, or your glad to see her. It would seem, based on the parallel passage in Mark (Mark 3.21, 31-32) that his family shows for the former purpose. They think him mad, crazy, out of his mind. Hence, they are there to shut Jesus’ mission and ministry down. Here is an important lesson: anyone who seeks to do a good work for the kingdom, but is hindered by the disapproval of their family must make a crucial decision – am I going to go back home with the family, or am I going to continue to follow God in this path? Said another way, will I choose to break the heart of God by giving up this ministry or will I continue to listen to his voice and obey his commands? This is a big decision for Jesus, to be sure.
Word gets to Jesus (Luke 8.20) that his mother and brothers are outside. Someone may ask, “Where’s Joseph?” The answer is simply we don’t know. He could be home busy in the carpenter shop trying to make a living for his family. He could be dead by the time this episode in the life of Jesus rolls around. Scholars tend to lean toward the latter. Nevertheless, word to gets to Jesus that his family is outside, their purposes are not stated directly. The words of Jesus no doubt would have been cutting to his mother’s heart: “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” The NIV says, “…puts it into practice.” Jesus’ half-brother James, perhaps one of the brothers present when Jesus uttered these words, got the message later, converted to Christianity and penned these words in his epistle: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1.22).
The message is loud and clear. If you want to be in the household of faith, if you want Jesus as your brother and God as you Father, then the word that is heard must be accepted and obeyed. I am not sure how many times it can be said, but Jesus says it repeatedly: listen and obey. The only way to obey is to listen and the only way to listen is to get our head in the word. Daily read the word, daily practice what it says. Further, Jesus says to hear the “word of God,” that is TON LOGON TOU THEOU. THEOU is God in Greek, from which we get our word theology. LOGON is the Greek word for “word.” Perhaps you are familiar with John 1.1: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Same word for “word” is used there as it is here in Luke 8.21. Now think about this: those who hear the “Word of God” and do what it says are brothers and sisters to Jesus. John goes on to say that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1.14).
I submit to you, o faithful reader, that perhaps a deeper meaning here is that in order to be a member of the family of faith, we must be willing to hear and heed the message of Jesus inasmuch as he is the incarnate Word. Hear the Word of God and do what he says. There is no other message we should be listening to, no other gospel which we should be obeying. The message Jesus brought with him of salvation from sin through His blood which was preached by the apostles and the first century church is the only message we should be hearing and putting into practice. Anything added by us or other men jeopardizes the precious salvation we have. Anything removed from the gospel, and it becomes a message which cannot save. No, we need to people of the book demanding the faithful proclamation of the full gospel of Jesus Christ. And once we have it, we need to be people do what it says.