Matthew 12:46

It must have been one of the most painful trials in the life of our Lord that none of his relatives except his mother believed in him, and that even she misunderstood him. Instead of supporting his arduous toils, they all did what they could to hinder him. No doubt their motives were kind; they thought he was wearing himself out with too much work; they saw his danger with the authorities, and wished to shield him; they seem to have thought he was beside himself with fanaticism, and needing kindly oversight and restraint. To us this looks almost impossible. But they who are nearest to inspiration are often the most perplexed by it. In 'Adam Bede' Mrs. Poyser can only account for Dinah Morris's preaching enthusiasm by supposing that her niece has "a maggot' in her brain. To Jesus the misapprehension of his family must have been most acutely painful because he loved sympathy. In his distress, however, he was not embittered; but his large heart turned to a greater kinship.


1. It is not merely natural, but spiritual. Jesus did not deny the claims of nature. In the agony of death he thought of his mother, and committed her to the charge of the beloved disciple. But it was the pain of his life that the happy family union which is the source of earth's deepest joy was broken by the unique destiny he was following. Christ has kinship with men in their higher natures.

2. It is determined, not by opinions, but by conduct. They are not Christ's brethren who understand most; but the deeds of life determine relationship with Christ. It is possible to be very orthodox and yet not be owned by Christ; the poor heretic, hounded to death by pious persecutors, may be owned as our Lord's brother - not because he is a heretic, as some people seem to think, but because in spite of his heresy his conduct pleases Christ.

3. It is not conditioned by religious observances, but by the doing of God's will The condition is wide, and it may embrace many sects and creeds. Yet in another sense it is narrow. While Christ is good to all, he only owns brotherhood with those who are obedient to God. Obedience is the tie of kinship. It marks men as of the family of God, of which Jesus is the elder Brother, the type of obedience, and its inspiring influence.


1. It is a joy to Christ. The sympathy he could not find among his own kindred he met in the larger family of God's obedient sons and daughters. Thus it is possible to contribute to the joy of Christ. This cannot but be a privilege to those who are his true brethren.

2. It secures his full sympathy. He is not like those selfish sufferers who demand unlimited sympathy with their own woes, but offer no sympathy with others in return. His life is utterly unselfish, a perpetual expenditure of himself for his brethren.

3. It brings the confidence of family union. One of the happiest features of home-life is the complete mutual confidence of the members of the family. This Christ permits between himself and his people. He does not stand off from them in kingly isolation. "He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Hebrews 2:11).

4. It secures a lasting heritage. Christ's brethren are his fellow-heirs. Kings' families may come to sad endings. It is better to be a Christian than a Stuart or a Bourbon. - W.F.A.

The same is My brother, and sister, and mother.

1. It is similar to that of the family.

2. It is superior to that of the family.

(1)It is non-artificial

(2)It is intimate.

(3)It is dear.

(4)It is completer.

(5)It is vaster.

(6)It is more lasting.

II. That Jesus here proclaims that the bond by which men sustain this supreme relationship to Himself, IS BY THEIR OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S WILL. When we do His will.

1. There is the kinship of sympathy.

2. Kinship of resemblance.

III. That Jesus here suggests that the Christian relationship to Christ IS INDIVIDUAL, VARIED AND SATISFYING.

1. Brotherhood. Active men.

2. Sisterhood. The intercourse of heart.

3. Motherhood.

(U. B. Thomas.)

Christ saw things in their superior relationships. All true relationship springs from moral states, not from the mechanical arrangements of society.

1. It is the real and proper tendency of all moral affections to seek each other, and to coalesce. The lower feelings are to a certain extent centrifugal. Policy, self interest, gifts, are perpetually separating men. All attempts to compromise union, to reason men into external union have failed. It is not found in contiguity. It is found in divergence of thought and feeling. All harmonies are in the direction of diversity. Love will do what reason never could do.

2. Human affections are never carried to their full power, and sweetness and beauty, till they are lifted up into the higher sphere, by their affinities and associations, religious. It is not enough to love the human that is in man; but that which is to live after the body. An unsanctified affection an imperfect one.

3. It is a matter of great rejoicing to those who ponder the spirit of this passage, that this world, after all, is as rich as it is. Although hearts are distributed and unrecognized, yet you can feel what a wealth of relationship there is after all.

4. The true man of God, in our day, is he who feels most sensitively his relationship to the Divine element which is in his fellow man. The largest man is the man of the largest heart.

5. It is piteous to see how men have spent their lives in resisting their relationships, and in putting trust and charity upon hard conditions. We must change away from the hating and fighting to the loving principle.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I never read a book of a fine nature that I do not instantly feel, "Well, he is mine, too." The Guerins — brother and sister — are as much mine as though I had been brought up on their mother's knee. Fenelon is mine. Bossuet is mine. All those noble men who carried down the light of a true Christian example through stormy times, and held steadfastly to the faith, and suffered nobly — they are mine. Pascal is mine. Newton is mine. All the great natures of the earth that have lifted themselves up under the genial Sun of Righteousness, and have begun to show heavenly colours and heavenly blossoms-they are mine. The same Father is mine. The same Saviour is mine. And I hear my Saviour saying, "All those that do the will of God are mothers to each other, brothers to each other, sisters to each other.

(H. W. Beecher.)

You do not know how many relations you have till you are in heaven. Oh! when those that are around you, and that you meet from day to day with little pleasure, meet you again, and they have thrown off the cerements of the body; when you see that in them which is good, and in conditions in which counterpoising evil is taken away, and the whole evolutions of their glorious nature are disclosed, you will never know them! It will be as when one looks upon the banks in January, and says, "How dreary are these banks I " and then in June looks upon the same landscape, and says, "It is not the thing that I looked at before." It is winter here, and we are frost-bitten, or ice-clad. It will be summer there; and we shall be in fragrant leaf and glorious blossom. And when you reach heaven, you will never be lonesome, or restrained. Here the necessities of earth, and. the proprieties of life, and the laws and conditions of our lower nature, partition and divide us; and we belong to each other more than we do to all the world. But in heaven all that will be gone. Every soul there will belong to every soul; every heart to every- heart; every love to every love. We shall be God's, and He shall be ours.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THEIR CHARACTER. "They do the will of His Father."

1. Some do the will of the devil.

2. Some do the will of men.

3. Some do their own will.

4. The Christian makes the will of God the rule of his life.

5. God has revealed His will. Their obedience is



II. THEIR PRIVILEGE. His disciples are Christ's kindred.

1. We look for family likeness, and we have it — "Conformed to the image of His Son." "'We shall also bear the image of the heavenly." The resemblance not complete in this world: but it is real.

2. He confers honour upon them as His kindred. It is glorious to belong to persons of illustrious endowments.

3. If they are relations, Christ will love them.

4. Since He declares them to be His relations, He will provide for them.

5. He will keep up an intercourse with them.

6. He will defend them.

7. Admire the grace and condescension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

8. The advantages of religion.

9. The holiness of the gospel.

10. The duty derived from this alliance.

(W. Jay.)

I. A DESCRIPTION OF CHRIST'S DISCIPLES — "They do the will," etc. What is the will of God?

1. God would have us to believe in Jesus Christ.

2. God requires of us to repent of our sins and to walk in newness of life. Naturally men cannot do these things; only the children of God.


1. Christ here declares how dear and precious to Him are His true disciples. A true brother will watch over the interests of His brethren.

III. THE PRIVILEGES DERIVED from this dignity.

1. Confidence in prayer.

2. Comfort in death.

(E. Cooper.)

Brother and sister, because of either sex. The faithful soul is also the mother of Christ, because by teaching, exhorting, and counselling, she brings forth Christ in herself and in others. Thus St. Gregory says: "We must know that he who is the brother or sister of Christ through believing is made His mother by preaching. For he, as it were, brings forth the Lord, whom he infuses into the hearts of his hearers." He subjoins the example of , who, by the Spirit, bore to God the seven sons to whom she had given birth in the flesh, because she strengthened them in persecution, and animated them for martyrdom. These words of Christ were also exemplified in Victoria, a virgin-martyr under Diocletian. She replied to the pro-consul, on his asking her whether she would join her brother Fortunatianus, who was a heathen: "No, for I am a Christian; and those are my brethren who keep the commandments of God." Wherefore she was shut up in prison, and perishing by hunger, obtained the martyr's crown.

I. CHRISTIANS ARE THE RELATIVES OF CHRIST. The ground of the relationship not natural, ecclesiastical, but spiritual — faith and obedience.

II. Spiritual relationship to Christ is SUPERIOR TO NATURAL. It is more intimate, happy, honourable, comprehensive, permanent.


1. Let us honour the relatives of Christ.

2. Seek to be of their number.

3. Choose them for our companions.

4. Do them all the good in our power.


I. The character of the disciple of Christ. Relates to — What we are to believe, experience, be, do, suffer, enjoy.

II. How near and dear they are to Christ.

III. How near and dear they ought to be to each other.

(J. Benson.)

I. The spiritual relatives of Jesus. Close and intimate. All the saints have one Father, one nature, one mind, one name with Christ.

II. The great principle of this relationship. Obedience. God's will is revealed to us. Obedience must be evangelical, affectionate, full, constant.

III. The advantages of this relationship. Exalted honour, greatest blessings, everlasting security. Rejoice, walk worthy, etc.

(Dr. Burns.)

This reply of our Lord shows —

I. THE PERVADING SPIRITALITY OF CHRIST'S MIND. He turned every circumstance to spiritual account. Christ spiritualized because He was spiritual.

II. THE PURE PHILANTHROPY OF CHRIST'S HEART. His love for man as man. The world is made one in relationship as it enters into Christ's love.


1. Connection with Christ is not determined by social position.

2. It is not determined by material relationships.

3. It is determined by obedience to the Divine will.

(1)That there is but one infallible will;

(2)That this infallible will may be disregarded;

(3)That this infallible will appeals for universal obedience.


1. Here is the idea of infinite relationship.

2. Here is the idea of social communion.Inferences:

1. If we are to obey the Divine will, a great change must pass over our moral nature.

2. If our union with Christ is moral, it will also be eternal.

3. If all the good are Christ's kindred, their meeting-place must be heaven.

4. If we are all Christ's, joy should be the pervading emotion of our hearts.

(J. Parker.)

Not the kingdom of heaven is, but the kingdom of heaven is like, so and so. Truth is a separate matter from the forms of phrase along which it is conveyed, or the forms of thought under which it is apprehended. In this respect it resembles the light. No painter can paint light. He can give you colours, the greens, the blues, the crimsons, but he cannot give you light; and yet if he is a genius he will succeed in filling his picture with those tinted suggestions that will somehow quicken in you a deep, thrilling sense of light. So Christ, in a similar manner, did not point out to His disciples this particular thing and that particular thing, but loaded His sentences with suggestions, and started in men's minds presentiments that went leaping along ahead of the spoken word He cut no grooves for men's opinions to slip in, fashioned no moulds for those opinions to be cast in; did not care to have them think precisely this, or precisely that; tied them to no nice forms of declaration; did not accentuate with periods. And so their minds moved as vessels move at sea; at the direction of the compass, to be sure. but without the sea ever being worn down into ruts and roadways. He drew for them pictures of the truth, and then let them make what they could of these pictures. A truth never can be quite told. It is best seen when we are not trying too hard to see it, not straining our eyes to see it — as faint stars become visible when we look a little off from them.

(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

History of the Church in all ages, from the first preaching of the gospel to the last general judgment, tracing the different steps of its advancement, both externally and internally, from its commencement to its consummation.

1. Sower — the preaching of the gospel, when the apostles and their successors went through the world, sowing everywhere the good seed.

2. Tares — the development of those evils of doctrine, the germs of which existed even in an earlier day.

3. Mustard seed-the extension and progress of the Church. It needs no support for itself, but affords a shelter to others who resort to it.

4. Leaven — the manner in which its vital spirit silently makes its progress, gradually changing the character of the whole mass into which it has been infused.

5. Hid treasure — action of Christianity upon some. In such a ease as this, some unlooked-for occurrence brings the man into contact with this treasure, for which he was not seeking. He finds it accidentally, and at once gives up all to possess it.

6. Pearl of great price — action of Christianity upon others. Here the man is engaged in the business of his life. He gains that for which he has all along been seeking.

7. Net — the solemn winding-up of the mighty drama — the separation — the consummation.

(Bishop Wn. Ingraham Kip.)

No one should miss gathering from these parables some notion of the all-embracing character of the kingdom which Christ came to set up among men. We need not wonder that Christ exhibits the truth lie wanted to impress upon them in a great variety of lights. It would have been surprising if He had not supplemented the parable of the hid treasure with that of the pearl, for the four parables which precede these are arranged in pairs. First, we have the action of Christ upon the Church, in the parable of the sower, supplemented by the field and the tares; then the expansive and permeating power of the Christian society, in the mustard and leaven; and, in the third pair, we are shown the attitude of the individual in relation to the saving grace of God. The king, the kingdom, the subjects — under each of these aspects two illustrations are given to enforce important varieties, and to exhibit, in more than one light, the manifold wisdom of God.

(J. Henry Burn, B. D.)

His parables were divers, when yet by those sundry shadows He did aim directly at one light. The intention of which course in our great Physician is to give several medicines for the same malady in several men, fitting his receipts to the disposition of his patients. The soldier doth not so well understand similitudes taken from husbandry, nor the husbandman from the war. The lawyer conceives not an allusion from physic, nor the physician from the law. Home-dwellers are ignorant of foreign matters; neither doth the quiet, rural labourer trouble his head with matters of state. Therefore Christ derives a parable from an army, to teach soldiers; from legal principles, to instruct lawyers; from the field and sewing, to speak familiarly to the husbandman's capacity.

(T. Adams.)

The word used (masdal) means a "likeness" or "comparison." Parables differ from fables in being pictures of possible occurrences — frequently of actual daily occurrences — and in teaching religious truths rather than moral truths.

(A. Carr.)

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