19Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” 21But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
We can see here how different gospel writers used the same story differently. Here, the connection to the context of the parable of the sower makes the meaning clear – the idea that those who hear, and follow, the teachings of Jesus are his family. Mark, on the other hand, tells the same story (Mark 3:31 – 35) but inserts it into a context of controversy between Jesus and the Pharisees, the controversy seeming to extend into Jesus’ family. In Luke it is a teaching moment for Jesus; in Mark it is another example of building conflict. This does not mean one is right and one wrong. It means that the same story can be used to make different points. We do that – we will tell a story to illustrate more than one point. Jesus was the master at story telling – certainly as the gospel writers tell his story they have, and use, the freedom to tell it from different perspectives.
What does Luke want his hearers (the gospels and the letters of the New Testament were intended to be read aloud in the churches) to learn? And what can we learn when we read all these years later? We learn that the way to be a part of Jesus’ family – to be his brothers and sisters – is to have hearts open to hearing him and minds open to following him. The Kingdom is at hand – it is not just sometime in the future; it is now. Do we live into the Kingdom? Do we follow God’s will? Do we spend time in prayer and study? Do we love God? Do we love our neighbor?