Prepare to listen. Sit still, take a few deep breaths then pray: Lord God, open my ears and let me hear your words todays. Amen.
Read Mark 3:19b-21, 31-35
Then he went home; 20and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind’ …. 31Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ 33And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’
We can’t blame Jesus’ family for wanting to ‘restrain’ him. They were trying to protect him, and no doubt also their family’s reputation, from the increasingly menacing attacks from religious rulers. We can sympathize with them, we’d probably do the same for our child. Interestingly, Mark used a Greek term (‘restrain’ in the NRSV) that is used elsewhere in his Gospel and translated as ‘arrest’ (as in 12:12). It’s a strong word suggesting his family was serious about preventing Jesus from doing what he was doing. Jesus would have none of it.
The fact that Mark inserts into the family narrative the attack by the scribes and Jesus’ response (vv22-30) suggests, as William Lane writes, “a parallel between the insensitivity and unbelief of the scribes and the attitude of those who should have been closest to him” (1974, p. 147). The fact that Jesus ignored his family, suggests that this is how he interpreted their intervention. His attitude towards family was definitely ‘not kosher’ in his day, since family was central to all life and work. It was essential to stay together to survive. It isn’t very popular in most cultures today either.
Instead of welcoming his family (mother and siblings), Jesus asked a question that sounds rather like a rejection of his family: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” It’s unclear whether his family heard this or not. The house was full of a crowd (v20) and his family were “standing outside.” We can presume that someone told them what Jesus said. I wonder how Mary felt when she heard her sons’ hard words.
Jesus risked condemnation by all people, not just his family, when he rejected his family and then defined a new one—“Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Once again Jesus acts in a manner that’s hard to take. How do you feel about his treatment of family? How about his redefinition of family? How can you live today as brother, sister, mother of Jesus (that is, doing God’s will for you in this moment)?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
I would be your family, Jesus, your mother/brother/sister and so desire to do God’s will today. Help me discern it and then give me courage to live it. For the sake of your Name, Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world doing the will of God.