The Messiah’s Family

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I concluded our series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” by looking at Matthew 12:46-50. Here, Jesus’ earthly family comes looking for Him, probably making the journey from Nazareth to Capernaum. Jesus uses their arrival to reframe family in relation to discipleship and the disciple-community.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“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 12:49-50)

Jesus and His Earthly Family (12:46-47)

  • Beginnings and parents: Matthew 1-2
  • Siblings: Matthew 13:55
  • Eventual disciples: James (Galatians 1:19; James 1:1), Jude (Jude 1:1), and others (Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5)

Jesus and His Disciple Family (12:48-50)

  • The one who does the will of the Father in heaven
  • Encountering the Father
  • Jesus as our Brother

Living as Jesus’ Family

  • Living by belonging to the Father
  • Living the Father’s will
  • Living together with our new brothers and sisters

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper into what it means to be part of Jesus’ disciple in one or more of the following ways:

The Dawning of Real Life

After Jesus’ brutal death there is the quiet and stillness of the tomb; Jesus’ dead body was laid in the tomb. We read:

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.” (Matthew 28:1)

But there was also the quiet and stillness of the sabbath. The Jewish followers of Jesus entered into the sabbath, which means to cease. There was no activity to distract them as they waited in their griefs and loss. 

I’m sure that each one of us has at some point been in a season of waiting. We’ve all felt the pressure of waiting in one way or another; waiting for that phone call about the job, that letter of college acceptance, the news from the doctor after the test, the anticipation before the child came home, and so much more. Waiting is a common experience in life.

But seasons of waiting can be difficult, particularly when we cannot see that anything is happening. It’s not easy to wait for your body to improve while undergoing medical treatment or after recovery from a surgery because you cannot always see the difference on the surface.

It can be difficult to wait for that breakthrough in a friendship or marriage relationship when you still feel the tension even after long conversations or counseling.

Waiting is hard.

Here are these women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the honored and favored first arrivals at the tomb.

What they, and the other disciples, don’t know is that while they were waiting, even while they were asking those “where is God?” questions, when the stone was rolled in front of the tomb, God had not abandoned them. In fact, God was working and was already ahead of them.

In our hunger for real life, even for God to break into our seasons of waiting, the promise of the empty tomb is that even when we cannot see it, God’s work has already begun. Even when we are asking, “where are You, God?”, God is already ahead of us…we often just do not see it. Our eyes are closed, or we are looking in the wrong direction. And then…the stone rolled away…an empty tomb…God was there all along.

Real life is dawning.

The resurrection promises us that even in our waiting God is at work. In fact, while the two Mary’s are walking to the tomb in dread and grief, Jesus has already left the tomb.

Langston Hughes, “The Ballad of Mary’s Son” [Poetry for Lent]

Poetry for Lent 2.001

Every Thursday during Lent, I post a poem that I find helpful for deeper engagement with Jesus’ journey to the Cross and the significance of Lent. Here is Langston Hughes’ poem “The Ballad of Mary’s Son” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Langston Hughes was one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance and a renowned 20th-century African American poet.


It was in the Spring
The Passover had come.
There was feasting in the streets and joy.
But an awful thing
Happened in the Spring –
Men who knew not what they did1
Killed Mary’s Boy.
He was Mary’s Son,
And the Son of God was He –
Sent to bring the whole world joy.
There were some who could not hear,
And some were filled with fear –
So they built a cross
For Mary’s Boy.


Previous poems in this series:

John Donne, “Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness”

Don’t be Troubled by Dangers: an exhortation from John Chrysostom

Titian, Flight into Egypt; Oil on canvas; c. 1508.

While studying for my message at Eastbrook from this past weekend, “Refugee Messiah,” I came across these words by St. John Chrysostom from homily 8.2 on the Gospel of Matthew that were very encouraging in these days.

But why was the Christ child sent into Egypt? The text makes this clear: he was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” From that point onward we see that the hope of salvation would be proclaimed to the whole world. Babylon and Egypt represent the whole world. Even when they were engulfed in ungodliness, God signified that he intended to correct and amend both Babylon and Egypt. God wanted humanity to expect his bounteous gifts the world over. So he called from Babylon the wise men and sent to Egypt the holy family.

Besides what I have said, there is another lesson also to be learned, which tends powerfully toward true self-constraint in us. We are warned from the beginning to look out for temptations and plots. And we see this even when he came in swaddling clothes. Thus you see even at his birth a tyrant raging, a flight ensuing and a departure beyond the border. For it was because of no crime that his family was exiled into the land of Egypt.

Similarly, you yourself need not be troubled if you are suffering countless dangers. Do not expect to be celebrated or crowned promptly for your troubles. Instead you may keep in mind the long-suffering example of the mother of the Child, bearing all things nobly, knowing that such a fugitive life is consistent with the ordering of spiritual things. You are sharing the kind of labor Mary herself shared. So did the magi. They both were willing to retire secretly in the humiliating role of fugitive.

[John Chrysostom, Gospel of Matthew, Homily 8.2 from Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1-13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture 1a (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 31.]

Christmas Joy

Merry Christmas! This is why we celebrate.

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation; tempera on wood; between 1433 and 1434.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Sadao Watanabe, Nativity; Hand-colored stencil print on crumpled paper.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:1-7)