Here is the scenario Jesus is responding to:
“Who is my mother or my brothers?” And he looked around, upon those who sat around him, and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Because whoever shall do God’s will – this is my brother, and my sister and mother!” (Mark 3:33-35)
Then his brothers and his mother came, and were standing outside. They sent word, asking to see him. And the crowd sat around him and they said to him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are outside waiting for you.” (Mark 3:31-32)
Is Jesus defining his spiritual family?
Those who were seated within the circle around him were Jesus' students and disciples. They were engaged in the service of learning about God from their teacher, Jesus. And they were serving Jesus - and thus were doing God's will. How do we know this? Because Jesus says this at the end of Mark 3:35 above.
This is confirmed by another verse describing Jesus' statement, from the Book of Matthew:
"Who is my mother? And who are my brothers?” Then he pointed his hand towards his disciples and said, “Here is my mother and my brothers! For whoever does what pleases my LORD in the spiritual realm is my brother, sister and mother.” (Matt. 12:48-50)
Is Jesus referring to our spiritual identity?
This question - as well as his answer - means that Jesus was speaking not only regarding family - but about our identity.
Some preach the importance of the physical family. But Jesus didn't. He saw himself not as a member of a family of his physical body - but as a member of the family of the Supreme Being.
This means that Jesus did not see himself or others as the temporary physical body we see with our eyes. This is evidenced elsewhere in the teachings of Jesus, such as:
"And don’t fear those who can kill the body but are unable to kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)This clearly illustrates that Jesus did not identify himself or others as the physical body. Otherwise, he would be teaching that those who can kill the body should be feared, right?
Since he taught that one should not fear the body being killed, this means we are not the physical body. We are the "soul" - or spirit-person within the physical body, giving the body life.
And since Jesus identified his family as those who are engaged in serving the Supreme Being - Jesus identified himself as a member of God's spiritual family rather than a member of a physical family.
Why? Because the physical family is temporary. These physical bodies only live for a few decades and then they die and decompose. When our body dies, we leave the body and leave all of the family members of the body. As the dead body is buried and decomposes or cremated to ashes, we move on.
For this reason, family members hate to consider the inevitability of death. We want to avoid a discussion of death because death among family members is the worst scenario. It means that family member is gone. Forever.
For this reason, a death in the family leaves the remaining family members empty and distraught.
Who are our real family members?
Many have proposed that the family of the body will get back together after we die. While family members can certainly meet up in the spiritual realm, and even follow each other into preceding and successive physical lifetimes, the bond is unrelated to the physical body.
Especially upon return to heaven. This was confirmed when Jesus was asked by Sadducees whose wife a woman will be in heaven after marrying seven different men during her lifetime. Jesus stated:
“You are mistaken because you don’t know the Scriptures nor the power of God. Because in the resurrection they will not marry, nor will be subject to marriage, but will be as angels of God in the spiritual realm." (Matthew 22:29-30)If a person who goes to heaven is not subject to marriage, then they also will not be subject to the family of the physical world - because marriage and children provide the substance of family in this physical world.
"But they will be as angels of God" confirms that they will not have physical bodies. We each have a spiritual body. This is our "angel" body - our original being.
The real family Jesus refers to above is another type of family It is a family that will not dissolve when the physical body dies.
Who is the family of God?
The word "whoever" is translated from the Greek word ὅς (hos) - a demonstrative pronoun that refers to anyone, but specific to the subject of the sentence. And the subject of the sentence is "God's will." What does "God's will" mean?
The term "God's will" is being translated from the Greek phrase, θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ. The word θέλημα (thelēma) means "what one wishes or has determined shall be done" or "will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure" according to Strong's lexicon.
In other words, it refers to doing what is pleasing to that person. This is confirmed by Jesus' statement in Matt. 12:50 (above).
The term τοῦ θεοῦ relates to the Supreme Being. The word τοῦ means "of" or "for" and the word θεός (Theos) refers to the Supreme Being. It is one of the Supreme Being's Holy Names.
This means that Jesus saw whoever was engaged in doing what pleased the Supreme Being as being his family. Why would this be so important to Jesus?
Because this is the mission of Jesus: To please God. Jesus had a confidential loving relationship with the Supreme Being and his entire consciousness was focused on pleasing God. This is confirmed specifically by Jesus:
"By myself I can do nothing; As I hear, I make choices, and my choices are just because I do not seek to please myself but to please Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
"For I have descended from the spiritual realm not to please myself but to please Him who sent me." (John 6:38)Jesus also prayed directly to the Supreme Being, asking that his actions serve to please Him:
And he went a little farther and fell facedown and prayed, “O my LORD, if possible, please let this cup be taken from me – yet not what pleases me but what pleases You.” (Matt. 26:39)So we see that not only was Jesus wanting to please the Supreme Being with his actions, but Jesus was devoted to the Supreme Being to the point where he would fall to the ground with his face to the ground in devotion as he requested that his actions be pleasing to God.
And this prayer took place just prior to Jesus' being arrested. Thus we see that Jesus allowed himself to be arrested because he understood this to be pleasing to the Supreme Being.
After all, Jesus could have run off in the night and avoided arrest. He could have avoided being persecuted if he wanted to.
But Jesus wasn't doing what he wanted to do. He was doing what the Supreme Being wanted him to do. This is because Jesus is the Supreme Being's loving servant. This was Jesus' role and position with respect to His Beloved God.
And Jesus taught his students to also become servants of God. Consider how he asked them to pray:
Therefore, you can pray in this way: “Our spiritual LORD, Holy is Your Name. Show us Your sanctuary. May Your will be done on earth as it is in the spiritual realm." (Matt. 6:9-10)"Your will be done" means serving the Supreme Being. Acting in a way that is pleasing to God.
This is what the citizens of the spiritual realm do. Their lives are devoted to pleasing the Supreme Being - who is their Beloved.
Is Jesus referring to slavery?
Jesus is not speaking of slavery. The Supreme Being could force everyone to serve Him but He doesn't. He created us to exchange loving relationships with Him and thus He wants loving service. And because love requires freedom to love or not, we each have the choice to love the Supreme Being or not.
Those who choose not to love God are tossed into the physical world to take on physical bodies. Why? In order to be able to avoid Him. God gave those who didn't want to be with Him the means to be virtually away from Him. This is why these physical bodies cannot see or otherwise perceive the Supreme Being - so that we can ignore Him and even forget He exists altogether.
And ignoring Him allows us to pretend that we are the center of the universe. We get to pretend that we are king, and those around us are our subjects. These physical bodies allow us to play out our self-centeredness, in other words.
But as we know from experience, this does not fulfill us. Because we were not created to play king, we are not fulfilled by it. Rather, our purpose for existing is to love and please the Supreme Being. As such, this is the only thing that can fulfill us.
This is why Jesus considers those who are not placing their love on the Supreme Being as not his family. They are opposed to doing God's will and thus are adversarial to the wishes of God. This also means - since God loves each of us and only wants what is best for us - that those who oppose God's will also by default oppose the true happiness of others.
Jesus is doing quite the opposite: he is trying to recruit us. He wants those of us who have become self-centered to return to our natural family in the spiritual realm - those who each share a common yet unique loving relationship with the Supreme Being and want to serve Him out of this love.
This is our real family - the only family that will bring us lasting, eternal happiness.
This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
“The most important of all the instructions is, ‘Hear O Israel – the LORD our God is our only Lord – and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – this is the most important instruction." (Matt. 22:37-38)