Matthew 12:49
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brothers!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(49) Behold my mother and my brethren.—The words assert in its strongest form the truth which we all acknowledge, that though natural relationships involve duties which may not be neglected, spiritual relationships, the sense of brotherhood in a great cause, of devotion to the same Master, are above them, and that when the two clash (as in the case supposed in Matthew 10:37), the latter must of right prevail.

The words have naturally occupied a prominent position in the controversial writings of Protestants against what has been judged by them to be the idolatrous worship of the Virgin Mother by the Church of Rome; and it is clear that they have a very direct bearing on it. They do exclude the thought that her intercession is mightier to prevail than that of any other pure and saintly soul. Though spoken with no apparent reference to the abuses of later ages, the words are a protest, all the stronger because of the absence of such reference, against the excess of reverence which has passed into a cultus, and the idolatry of dressed-up dolls into which that cultus has developed.

12:46-50 Christ's preaching was plain, easy, and familiar, and suited to his hearers. His mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, when they should have been standing within, desiring to hear him. Frequently, those who are nearest to the means of knowledge and grace are most negligent. We are apt to neglect that which we think we may have any day, forgetting that to-morrow is not ours. We often meet with hinderances in our work from friends about us, and are taken off by care for the things of this life, from the concerns of our souls. Christ was so intent on his work, that no natural or other duty took him from it. Not that, under pretence of religion, we may be disrespectful to parents, or unkind to relations; but the lesser duty must stand by, while the greater is done. Let us cease from men, and cleave to Christ; let us look upon every Christian, in whatever condition of life, as the brother, sister, or mother of the Lord of glory; let us love, respect, and be kind to them, for his sake, and after his example.Who is my mother? ... - There was no want of affection or respect in Jesus toward his mother, as is proved by his whole life.

See especially Luke 2:51, and John 19:25-27. This question was asked merely to "fix the attention" of the hearers and to prepare them for the answer - that is, to show them who sustained toward him the nearest and most tender relation. To do this he pointed to his disciples. Dear and tender as were the ties which bound him to his mother and brethren, yet those which bound him to his disciples were more tender and sacred. How great was his love for his disciples, when it was more than even that for his mother! And what a bright illustration of his own doctrine, that we ought to forsake father, and mother and friends, and houses, and lands, to be his followers!

Remarks On Matthew 12

1. Our Saviour has taught us the right use of the Sabbath, Matthew 12:1-13. His conduct was an explanation of the meaning of the fourth commandment. By his example we may learn what may be done. He himself performed only those works on the Sabbath which were strictly necessary for life, and those which tended to benefit the poor, the afflicted, and needy. Whatever work is done on the Sabbath that is not for these ends must be wrong. All labor that can as well be done on another day all which is not for the support of life, or to aid the ignorant, poor, and sick. must be wrong. This example justifies teaching the ignorant, supplying the wants of the poor, instructing children in the precepts of religion, teaching those to read in Sunday schools who have no other opportunity for learning, and visiting the sick, when we go not for formality, or "to save time on some other day," but to do them good.

2. The Sabbath is of vast service to mankind. It was made for man - not for man to violate or profane, or to be a day of mere idleness, but to improve to his spiritual and eternal good. Where people are employed through "six" days in worldly occupations, it is kind toward them to give them one day particularly to prepare for eternity. Where there is no Sabbath there is no religion. This truth, from the history of the world, will bear to be recorded in letters of gold - "that true religion will exist among men only when they strictly observe the Sabbath." They, therefore, who do most to promote the observance of the Sabbath, are doing most for religion and the welfare of man. In this respect Sunday school teachers may do more, perhaps, than all the world besides for the best interests of the world.

3. In the conduct of Christ Matthew 12:14-15 we have an illustration of the nature of Christian prudence. He did not throw himself needlessly into danger. He did not remain to provoke opposition. He felt that his time was not come, and that his life, by a prudent course, should be preserved. He therefore withdrew. Religion requires us to sacrifice our lives rather than deny the Saviour. To throw our lives away when, with good conscience, they might be preserved, is self-murder.

4. The rejection of the gospel in one place is often the occasion of its being received elsewhere, Matthew 12:15. People may reject it to their own destruction; but somewhere it "will" be preached, and will be the power of God unto salvation. The wicked cannot drive it out of the world. They only secure their own ruin, and, against their will, benefit and save others. To reject it is like turning a beautiful and fertilizing stream from a man's own land. He does not, he cannot dry it up. "It will flow somewhere else." He injures himself and perhaps benefits multitudes. People never commit so great foolishness and wickedness, and so completely fail in what they aim at, as in rejecting the gospel. A man, hating the light of the sun, might get into a cave or dungeon, and be in total darkness; but the sun will continue to shine, and millions, in spite of him, will be benefited by it. So it is with the gospel.

5. Christ was mild, quiet, retiring not clamorous or noisy, Matthew 12:19. So is all religion. There is no piety in noise; if there was, then thunder and artillery would be piety. Confusion and discord are not religion. Loud words and shouting are not religion. Religion is love, reverence, fear, holiness, a deep and awful regard for the presence of God, profound apprehensions of the solemnities of eternity, imitation of the Saviour. It is still. It is full of awe - an awe too great to strive, or cry, or lift up the voice in the streets. If people ever should be overawed and filled with emotions "repressing" noise and clamor, it should be when they approach "the great God."

6. The feeble may trust to Jesus, Matthew 12:20. A child of any age, an ignorant person, the poorest man, may come, and he shall in nowise be east out. It is a sense of our weakness that Jesus seeks. Where that is "he" will strengthen us, and we shall not fail.

7. Grace will not be extinguished, Matthew 12:20. Jesus, where he finds it in the feeblest degree, will not destroy it. He will cherish it. He will kindle it to a flame. It will burn brighter and brighter, until it "glows like that of the pure spirits above."

8. People are greatly prone to ascribe all religion to the devil, Matthew 12:24. Anything that is unusual, anything that confounds them, anything that troubles their consciences, they ascribe to fanaticism, overheated zeal, and Satan. It has always been so. It is sometimes an easy way to stifle their own convictions, and to bring religion into contempt. "Somehow or other," like the Pharisees, infidels must account for revivals of religion, for striking instances of conversion, and for the great and undeniable effects which the gospel produces. How easy to say that it is "delusions," and that it is the work of the devil! How easy to show at once the terrible opposition of their own hearts to God, and to boast themselves in their own wisdom, in having found a cause so simple for all the effects which religion produces in the world! How much pains, also, men will take to secure their own perdition, rather than to admit it to be possible that Christianity is true!

9. We see the danger of blasphemy - the danger of trifling with the influences of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 12:31-32. Even if we do not commit the unpardonable sin, yet we see that all trifling with the Holy Spirit is a sin very near to God, and attended with infinite danger. He that "laughs away" the thoughts of death and eternity; he that seeks the society of the frivolous and trifling, or of the sensual and profane, for the express purpose of driving away these thoughts; and he that struggles directly against his convictions, and is resolved that he will not submit to God, may be, for aught he knows, making his damnation sure. Why should God "ever" return when a man has "once" rejected the gospel? Who would be to blame if the sinner is then lost? Assuredly not God. None but himself. Children sometimes do this. Then is the time, the very time, when they should begin to love God and Jesus Christ. Then the Spirit also strives. Many "have then" given their hearts to him and become Christians. Many more might have done so, if they had not grieved away the Spirit of God.

10. We see the danger of rejecting Christ, Matthew 12:38-42. All past ages, all the wicked and the good, the foolish and the wise, will rise up in the day of judgment, and condemn us, if we do not believe the gospel. No people, heretofore, have seen so much light as we do in this age. And no people can be so awfully condemned as those who, in a land of light, of Sundays and Sunday schools, reject Christ and go to hell. Among the 120,000 children of Nineveh Jonah 4:11 there was not one single Sunday school. There was no one to tell them of God and the Saviour. They have died and gone to judgment. Children now living will die also, and go to meet them in the day of judgment. How will they condemn the children of this age, if they do not love the Lord Jesus Christ!

11. Sinners, when awakened, if they grieve away the Spirit of God, become worse than before, Matthew 12:43-45. They are never as they were before. Their hearts are harder, their consciences are more seared, they have a more bitter hatred of religious people, and they plunge deeper and deeper into sin. Seven devils often dwell where one did, and God gives the man over to blindness of mind and hardness of heart. This shows, also, the great guilt and danger of grieving the Holy Spirit.

continued...

49. And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples—How graphic is this! It is the language evidently of an eye-witness.

and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

See Poole on "Matthew 12:50". And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples,.... By whom are meant, not only the twelve, but all others present, who truly believed in him, both men and women; and who might sit near him and together, and whom, by this motion of his hand, he pointed out as his spiritual relations, to the multitude that sat round him:

and said, behold my mother, and my brethren; in whose hearts he was formed, and who were the children of God by adopting grace, and so his brethren; and were as dear to him as his mother and brethren. It is reasonable to suppose, that when he said, "behold my mother", and, as in the following verse, "sister"; he might stretch forth his hand particularly, toward the pious and religious women that believed in him, and ministered to him of their substance, who might be now present; such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and others; since these are mentioned by Luke in the same chapter in which this passage stands in his Gospel; and when he said "behold my brethren", he might point directly to the twelve, and the rest of the men that believed in him, and followed him.

{11} And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

(11) None are more near unto us than they that are of the household of faith.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 12:49. ἐκτείνας τ. χ.: an eloquent gesture, making the words following, for those present, superfluous.—ἰδού, etc. There are idealists, promoters of pet schemes, and religious devotees whom it would cost no effort to speak thus; not an admirable class of people. It did cost Jesus an effort, for He possessed a warm heart and unblighted natural affections. But He sacrificed natural affection on the altar of duty, as He finally sacrificed His life.49. Behold my mother and my brethren] The new life subverts the old relationships. By the spiritual birth new ties of kindred are established.Matthew 12:49. Καὶ, κ.τ.λ., and, etc.) The greatest gentleness and sobriety are here combined with the greatest seventy.[595]—ἰδοὺ, behold) corresponding to the same word in Matthew 12:47.

[595] The reason for this severity is to be found in the parallel passage, Mark 3:21, as Micliaelis shows in the Einleitung, etc., T. ii., p. m. 1162.—E. B.Verse 49. - And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples. One of the very few signs of an eye-witness in sentences peculiar to the First Gospel (see Introduction, p. 11). And said, Behold my mother and my brethren! Disciples (μαθητὰς)

Not the apostles only, but all who followed him in the character of learners. The Anglo-Saxon renders learning knights.

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