Mark 3:20-21; 31-35
Jesus’ mother, brothers and sisters were worried about Him. It was obvious He was either (a) working too hard, (b) deluding Himself and others, (c) out of His mind – take your pick. When there wasn’t even time to eat, things were obviously going downhill fast. Jesus was also courting danger in these times of political unrest, when gathering a crowd for any reason was regarded with suspicion by the Roman authorities. Clearly, the family had to intervene and take charge.
It was a very human response. No doubt Mary was worried her Son was eating sketchy meals at best and not getting nearly enough rest. His brothers scorned His claims to be the Messiah and cringed at the embarrassment it caused them among their sceptical friends and neighbors. They may also have been resentful that responsibility for their mother had been downloaded on them instead of being assumed by Jesus as the eldest, as it should have been. Perhaps His sisters were worried about their acceptability as wives and mothers if insanity was feared to run in the family. Better to quietly whisk Him away and say no more about it.
So, for various reasons, Jesus’ family worried about Him precisely because He was part of their family. What He was, did and said both reflected on and affected them. As it is in many households, worrying about each other and taking action accordingly was a family trait.
So Jesus’ family sent someone into the place where Jesus was teaching to tell him they wanted him to come out and talk with them. The shock at Jesus’ response must have been palpable: that membership in His family was not determined by ties of blood or being raised in the same household. Those He counted as His mother and sisters and brothers had one qualification: they do the will of God. Luke expresses it in two parts: 1) they hear God’s Word, and 2) they put it into practice.
Jesus’ earthly family thought it was enough for them to 1) worry about what they saw as wrong, and 2) fix the problem. In this case, their concern wasn’t prompted by Scripture and their plan was to stop Jesus from doing what was exactly what God had sent Him to do.
Clearly, Jesus gave a new definition of what family means in the kingdom of God. No one is born into this family in the usual way. No one is more important than anyone else; no one gets to jump to the front of the line. In this family, everyone is on an equal footing. And like Mastercard, while membership has its privileges, it first requires two things, and these are not negotiable. To join the family of God, we must hear His Word and put it into practice. To continue as the family of God, we must hear God’s Word and put it into practice. This isn’t a “one and done” requirement.
Sometimes in the contemporary Western world, we behave as if entry into the Christian Church can come automatically because you grew up there and went through all the programmed steps at the appropriate time. We may count ourselves as part of a specific church family because we like the other people there and they encouraged us to join. We may like the pastor or the worship leader, and will stay as long as they’re with the congregation. We consider ourselves part of God’s family, others think we’re part of God’s family, and we confidently expect the rewards that go with it.
Several years ago while visiting a church in the summer, one of the prominent older women in the congregation was telling the children’s story. In the 10 minutes she spoke, there was not one mention of God, of Jesus, or of Scripture in any way, shape or form. Instead, she gave examples of how we can be kind to others, and ended by saying that the most important thing in life is to be really, really nice to everybody all the time.
This very pleasant lady followed her own advice and did a lot of nice things for others. She’d gone to the church all her life. She was in no doubt she was part of God’s family.
Was her confidence misplaced?
Jesus didn’t mince words or soft-pedal the essential elements of relationship with God and with each other as the family of faith. We can’t afford to either.
Jesus’ mother, sisters and brothers are those who listen to Him, learn from Him, follow Him, and do the will of God. They hear God’s Word and put it into practice. They don’t just hear and obey once, or once in awhile – putting God’s Word into practice becomes part of their lives, part of who they are.
More often than not, this involves repenting of our previous practices and turning them on their ear. Being right with God takes hard and diligent work. If our righteousness feels easy, natural and stress-free, it’s self-righteousness or self-delusion, and not genuine righteousness. Hearing and doing
God’s will takes self-denial, not being in denial about who we really are and the state we’re actually in.
NEXT: Hearing Impairments