One Powerful Little Word

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

(Matt. 12:46–50)


Jesus taught the world that he came to create a whole new kind of family—a faith family. He told his biological family that this new family took precedent. But there is another lesson hidden in his response that shows his special concern for women. Look back at the passage. What is the word Jesus adds when he points to his disciples? Can you find it?

Who does Jesus include in the list of family members that was not mentioned before? Sisters! Women are included in Jesus’ family! This might seem like a small thing to some, but to the marginalized women in the first century, this was tantamount to words of life. And they are still words of life to women today.

The Lord made a point to remind everyone that sisters are part of the forever family too. Jesus, the Master Communicator, added one simple word that made a great difference to half the human race. If Jesus could make the mental effort to add that one simple word of inclusion, why can’t preachers and teachers and husbands and fathers do the same today? The public sphere has done a much better job—indeed, politicians, authors and other speakers purposefully invoke female names and pronouns in their speeches.

Little words are powerful, and Jesus took the time to add them so as to express the truth—that we are all brothers and sisters, called to walk alongside the Savior together. If men of influence take this to heart and include women in their rhetoric, what a difference it would make!

Jesus was not afraid to befriend women even in the face of the first-century culture. He was probably criticized for it, but he didn’t care. Some things are too important to let culture dictate, and for Jesus this was one of them. Over the years, we have counseled many frustrated and wounded women who ask, “Why is it so difficult to work with men?”

Why do some men and women today struggle to take the stand that Jesus took? Why is it so difficult to see one another as siblings and to partner together as one family? There are many reasons. It is a complicated issue, especially in an oversexed society like ours. In later blogs we will wrestle with these issues and seek God’s answers. Jesus cared enough to speak a little word that made a big difference for women everywhere.

Have you ever felt slighted or offended by a male preacher or teacher? Did you respond in anger or resentment? That kind of response is natural but harmful to your emotional and spiritual health. What is a godly and appropriate response?

Dr. Edwards is Assistant Professor of Christian Education (Specialization: Women's Studies) at Dallas Theological Seminary and holds degrees from Trinity University, DTS, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is the author of New Doors in Ministry to Women, A Fresh Model for Transforming Your Church, Campus, or Mission Field and Women's Retreats, A Creative Planning Guide. She has 30 years experience in Bible teaching, directing women's ministry, retreat and conference speaking, training teams and teachers, and writing curriculum. Married to David for 34 years, she especially enjoys extended family gatherings and romping with her four grandchildren.


  • Sharifa Stevens

    Little Words Mean A Lot

    Sue – this is awesome! I am so encouraged by the little word "sister" today.

    I’m married to a man who is more proud of me than I am of myself. I work in a department where my supervisor cares about sisters and gives both men and women room to fly or fail.

  • Anonymous

    Sisters and mothers
    Jesus called those who do His will, His brothers and sisters and mothers.
    He also remembered His own mother as He was dying on the cross. That two also speaks about how He treated and remembered His own mother.

  • Rosie Bryant

    Your message is so needed at this time in my life. How encouraged I would to have a brother indeed to grace my life, by including me as a sister, as is written for the family of God.
    Thank you, so very much.
    I was so surprised to see the women included in the linage of Christ in Matthew 1:3-16.

  • Gwynne Johnson

    Slights and surprised!
    Having come to Christ as a teenager, I grew up in an educator’s home where I was encouraged to pursue whatever my dreams were. Even later as a new believer and new wife I experienced the love and support of brothers and a husband who treated me with great respect as their equal.