Jesus did not say, “Zeal for my Father consumes me.” What did He say? He said, “Zeal for my Father’s house consumes me” (Psalm 69:9, John 2:17). Of course, zeal for the Father consumed Him, there’s no question about that. But Jesus saw what was precious to the Father—the planting of the Lord, the garden of His Father—and He was willing to die for that garden. Zeal for the Father’s Family consumed Him, not just zeal for the Father. It wasn’t just about His own relationship with God. It was about His relationship with God that flowed into His brothers on a daily basis. Did Jesus “attend” His brothers? Did His brothers “attend” Him? Of course not. They walked together as a family…as they sat down, rose up and walked along the way (Deut. 6:7, Deut. 11:19). From the beginning of time it was God’s heart’s desire that we be a Family—a hundred mothers, brothers, sisters, lands, and possessions (Matt. 19:29). And being a Family will take courage. It will take wisdom and patience. We have to love others more than we love ourselves. We have to love each other just like we would love our own children, because we’re coming to understand that a Second Birth is how we are defined as His Family. Everyone understands the first birth. This is “my” family, these are “my” children, and they have “my” surname. But how many people understand that the Second Birth is more important than the first birth?
Jesus made it clear that the Second Birth is more important. Remember when the people said, “Blessed is the womb that bore You”? And Jesus said, “No. On the contrary, blessed is the one who does the will of God…the one who knows and lives the will of God” (Luke 11:27-28). And then another time when the people said, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, Jesus.” What did He say in response? “These are my mothers and brothers and sisters,” as He looked at those seated in the circle around Him. “These are my mothers, brothers and sisters—those who do God’s will” (Mark 3: 31-35). Jesus saw the Second Birth as being even more important than the first birth. Who was waiting outside for Him? Well, it was Mary. Was she a wonderful person? Yes, of course she was. His half brothers James and Jude were outside too and Jesus loved them also. They were a little ornery at first and didn’t like Jesus because they were jealous of Him as they were growing up. But Jesus knew they would eventually realize who He was and would eventually write books of the Bible. He knew that. So even though His physical mother, brothers and sisters were outside, He said, “Here are my mothers, brothers and sisters.” He was telling the people “The Second Birth is what defines my family. Of course I love my mother, but we need to understand that the Second Birth is crucial to living as Christians and crucial to helping each other grow.”
Most of the world has not understood that, and hasn’t lived that way. If you asked them they would say, “Yes, of course that’s true.” But then they would for some reason treat brothers and sisters in Christ as if they can “attend” them at a meeting…yet they would never treat their child that way! So obviously they still value the first birth more than they value the Second Birth—the spiritual birth, being born again. They must value the first birth more, because they don’t love others the same way they love their own children. If they see their child beginning to be a little worldly in their speech or attitudes or the things they value, they talk to their child about it. If they see that their child is sick, they immediately care about that. But if they see someone around them that is spiritually sick, they don’t even notice. Or they think, “Oh, that’s their problem, who am I to judge?” When your child begins to get a little worldly do you say, “Who am I to judge?” and then just walk on? What kind of foolish, selfish parent would that be? Of course you must care, because it’s your responsibility to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It’s your calling by God.
What Jesus brought to us is a hundred mothers, brothers, and sisters in the Second Birth. “Who are my mothers and brothers and sisters?” It’s those who do the will of God, who love Him and who have been Born a second time into a spiritual family and I care just as much about them as I do my physical family. I am just as alert, just as wise, just as involved on a daily basis with them as I am my own biological children. That’s the Church Jesus is birthing into the earth—those who are aware of their responsibilities to help each other pull the weeds, to water, to fertilize and to help the gift of God grow in one another. And when I see someone who doesn’t care, or they seem to be disinterested, then I say, “Can we go for a walk? You seem to be disinterested. You seem to not be caring about the Word of God right now. Can we talk about that?” And it isn’t “the pastor” doing that. It is all of us—the priesthood of believers—a Kingdom of Priests where we all take responsibility.