Sermon Notes


For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at what I would like to call ‘foundational principles’ in our series on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We saw how Jesus is the true and ultimate sign that we must seek. For blessed is he who seeks after the giver of gifts, and note merely after the gifts of the giver.
We studied the world of the miraculous, about angels and demons, about spiritual forces in the heavenly places. It is easy for us Christians who see the visible world all the time, to forget the realities of the invisible world all around us.
Then, we learned about the person and work of the third person of the Trinity, the precious Holy Spirit of God.

Now, each of these sermons has laid certain foundations that I believe are crucial to our study of the ‘charismata’, which is the Greek word Paul uses to refer to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
And again, I’m so glad that the Lord has so aptly laid these foundations for us at the end of Matthew chapter 12, allowing us to smoothly transition from our expository study of the Gospel of Matthew to this study of the charismata.
And today will be our final day on this chapter, and we will be learning one of the most important principles when it comes to the pursuit of Spiritual Gifts.



Matthew 12:46–50
46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.
48 But he replied to the man 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!
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Remember the context in which we find this passage. Jesus has been traveling all over the place preaching the Good News and healing every kind of disease. And when the Pharisees were rising in their opposition, Jesus took the fight to them, by healing before their eyes, often intentionally, sometimes even on the Sabbath.
He confronted them several times, especially when they tried to trap him with their words. It is in one of these serious exchanges that we see this happen.

Matthew 12:46
46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.

While he was still speaking – Matthew explicitly suggests that this encounter happened while Jesus was still speaking. If your mom and siblings came to see you at an event you were speaking at, would they ask to speak with you immediately or would they rather wait till you finished your speech?

There was some urgency in their desire to speak to him. We are not told in Scripture what that urgency was in this context, but it seems reasonable to assume that they wanted to dissuade him from his current ministry trajectory, given what we’re told in:
Mark 3:21
21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
Jesus’ offense against the Pharisees was at an all-time high. Some were calling him the prince of demons, and some wanted to kill him. Jesus was becoming an extremely controversial figure. And his family feared for him.

His mother and his brothers – Given the clear indication of this text, where his mother and brothers wait outside, and Jesus points to his disciples or his ‘brethren’ in response, there can be no question about the fact that Matthew is talking about Jesus’ half brothers, children of Mary and Joseph. In fact, we know he had four brothers, but we don’t know how many sisters he had, from:
Matthew 13:55–56
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
Even here, to assume that the Jewish people were referring to a general brethren and not Jesus’ biological family is a stretch that the scriptural interpretation simply does not allow.
Jesus had half-siblings and Mary his mother. The absence of Joseph in these mentions probably suggests that he had already died before these events.
We know his family did not believe him (although Mary had prophecies about these things).
John 7:5
5 For not even his brothers believed in him.
However, we know that after Jesus’ resurrection things changed. His brother James became the head of the Jerusalem church and is the author of the book of James in the New Testament.
Stood outside – It was difficult for them to reach him or get close to him because of the size of the crowd. (Luke 8:19)
Asking to speak to him – Jesus knows what it is like to believe and preach something that your family doesn’t support. He knows what it feels like when those who oppose your faith use the unbelief of your family as a weapon to discredit you.
Imagine the sting of having your own family acting as advisors on behalf of your enemies. However, Jesus had no resentment or bitterness toward his family. Instead, he uses the opportunity to teach the people yet another important lesson, a lesson that is crucial to us in our pursuit of Spiritual Gifts.

Matthew 12:48–49
48 But he replied to the man 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!
Replied to the man who told him – In the middle of Jesus’ message, a man approaches him to say that his family is asking to speak with him. We do not know who this man was or what his intention was, but I wonder if it was an attempt at mockery. With all the brilliant responses that Jesus had for every accusation that was brought against him, here is someone who says, “if you don’t listen to us, then at least listen to your family. They’re waiting outside”.
“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! – Whatever the motive be of the man who told him his family is waiting outside, whether it be an accusation that Jesus is neglecting his own family, or that he doesn’t listen to them, Jesus uses it as an opportunity to redefine the term ‘family’.
There is a monumental shift here that we need to have in our understanding of the word ‘family’.

Matthew 12:50 ESV
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus defined his family as those who do the will of God. Now, we know that Jesus was not disregarding his biological family. He cared for them. He cared for his mother even at the cross and handed his favorite disciple John the responsibility of taking care of her.
Jesus is not disregarding the biological family unit, but you can be sure that he’s dispelling the notion of the closed and private biological family unit.
Whoever – Jesus saw anyone who did the will of God as part of his own family. He could not care for his immediate family at the cost of his larger family, and neither could he care for his larger family at the cost of his immediate family.

I’ve often heard people say that family is most important, then comes the church. And I understand what they’re trying to say but I believe the same needs to be worded carefully so that we understand it clearly.
Often times when people say that family is most important, they don’t define an objective measurement of how much is ‘most’. There’s a fine line between making your family the first priority and making them the only priority. Any assumption that we can serve and love the church of God as long as it doesn’t cost our family is a naive and ridiculous thought. Avoiding all costs would require you to make your family the only priority.
That is not how Jesus thought. His work for his larger spiritual family incurred much cost to his biological family. And we know that this is the case in the life of the apostles, the other disciples, and all who followed him down through the centuries and millennia, even to our day.
Acts 2:44–47
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

There are things for which I labor in the church where the price is paid for by my wife. Whether it be spending time with me, going out on Saturday evenings when I am neck deep in sermon preparation, or having to get my busy mind off of things at work and church to focus on things at home, it all comes with a cost. I know my service to God’s people, and my love for the church will cost my family and that is how it is supposed to be. And in the same way, there are costs the church has to pay when my priorates at home take precedence. Either way, your top priority can never be your only priority.
A helpful grid that applies when I think about priorities like this, is relationship- responsibility-requirement.

Relationship – As a married man, my deepest relationship theologically is supposed to be with my wife. She is the flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. This union brought about by the Holy Spirit is entirely unique and is meant to stand out from all my other relationships.
So by using a simple relationship filter, my priority would always be my wife. Everyone else comes later.
Now, relationships are often tricky. Some of us are really attached to our parents, much more than our friends, whereas some of us are more attached to friends than to parents.
Although scripture expects a certain intimacy in relationships (between husbands and wives, fathers and sons, etc.), many of those relationships in scripture and outside are often strained.
Regardless, if we depend only on our intimacy in our relationships then those closest to us will always be prioritized more.
For many people, this is the grid by which they set their priorities. But the problem lies in the fact that we often don’t pursue relationships on a theological basis, and we should. If you don’t have a deep and intimate relationship with your spouse, then you should strive to pursue a deep and intimate relationship with your spouse. Why? Because the bible says so. If your relationship with your father is broken, then you must work to build that relationship.
But so often, people use their existing relationship situations, as the final grid on how to set their priorities when it comes to family, church, and work.

Responsibility – A second filter that is applied is responsibility. There is a biblical responsibility given by God, to the husband, the wife, the father, the mother, the children, the pastor, the church members, and so on.
So now we’re not just talking about biblical relationships, but biblical responsibilities called for in those relationships.
1 Timothy 5:8
8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Faith mandates responsibility. Avoiding responsibility in the name of a relationship is denying the faith.
There are those who use responsibility as the final grid on how to set their priorities. This can appear more sound than using a relationship grid, however, avoiding the value of relationships can also be harmful.
This often leads to doing your duty resentfully.
Philippians 2:14–15
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing,
15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
I hope you’re able to see my point. We need to have a grid that considers both relationship and responsibility. The reason the Christian has a high call and priority for his immediate family more than the church is because of the weight the Bible places on the relationship and responsibility within that family.
But as long as he has the Bible as the reason he prioritizes his family, then he will also know that the bible doesn’t stop there, but further establishes relationships and responsibilities within the community of saints, the church. A bible-believing Christian can never choose one and deny the other. They were always meant to co-exist.

Requirement – Allow me to throw in one more filter that helps balance things out, ‘requirement’. As priorities call out to us from many places, it helps a lot to understand what the requirements of that call are.
Sometimes the requirement from a lower priority might be far more pressing and immediate than that from a higher priority, and we must use our wisdom in determining what must be done.
The bottom line is, the Christian must pray and discern how to navigate this grid and that is not simple, and it will cost all parties involved at some point.
So, when Jesus points to his disciples and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers!”, he is pointing out the reality of the relationship and responsibility he has toward them as much as he has toward his family. And in the given context, the requirement of the call of his family was far less than the requirement of his call to preach the truth to his disciples.



When all this is done and dusted, and great judgment of the Lord is over, and we live in the new heavens and the new earth, there are no husbands and wives there, no fathers and sons, or mothers and daughters. There are only brothers and sisters in Christ.
The reason God instituted the family – father, mother, and children – was not to replace the church or to take away from the church. It was to establish and strengthen her. When godly men and women come together and they raise godly children, the blessings of that family are meant to pour out into the congregation. Such families are foundational rocks in the life of the church.
When instructing Timothy and Titus on choosing elders and deacons for the church, Paul’s requirement was that it be men of one wife and faithful children. The value of such a home in the larger home of God’s people is incalculable.
So many Christians treat the church as an instrument or an appendage to uphold their families when God always intended for the family to be the instrument that upholds the church.
In the final analysis of things, the church is not the means to an end that is your family, your family was always meant to be the means to the end that is the church. Your family bonds, in relationship and responsibility, are passing, but your call to the church is eternal.
Think of it this way brothers and sisters, your family unit is meant to be your inner circle within the congregation of saints. They are not your only priority, they are your first priority amongst many. If you serve them well, then you are by scripture, qualified to serve the rest well. Your family is the starting point of your Christian influence, not the end. It must bleed into the community.
What then, does any of this have to do with Spiritual Gifts? The entire point behind the nature and function of spiritual gifts, throughout Scripture, has been for a singular purpose – to edify the church.

1 Corinthians 12:4–11
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;
6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.