Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him,
mother and Your brothers
are outside looking for
You." Answering them, He said,
"Who are My mother
and My brothers ?" Looking
about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, "Behold My mother
and My brothers ! "For
whoever does the will
of God, he is My brother
and sister and mother."
There are a lot of
things in life you are given a choice to do, experience, say or see. One thing
you had no choice about is the family you were born into. It is a rather
fascinating result. We often ask ourselves why we were born into the specific
genetic family we were born into. We may also ask why we were born where we
were – into the specific culture and society we were. Some people resent their
earthly family and ethnicity, while others “play-it-out” for all its worth. On
the whole, most people in North America generally accept their family lot in
life for what it is, realizing it could have been worse, or wishing it would
have been better.
Your natural bloodline
family (genetic) is often referred to as your “nuclear”
or “core” family. It consists of your father, mother and siblings. If you get
married you enter into what is often referred to as your “extended” family
which includes the children that your marriage produces as well as the in-laws
(and I some cases the “out-laws”) that you inherit through that marriage. When
widows, widowers or divorces marry each other they often form what is called “blended”
In light of the
Scriptural text we are about to examine, it seems easier
to call these types of families “neo” families or even “pseudo” family
networks. Jesus has a unique way of making our supposed realities become
non-realities, our beginnings become the finalities and our values and
priorities become meaningless as He teaches the reality of His truth in the New
Some people are
fortunate enough to experience very meaningful and
healthy personal relationships within their nuclear and their extended
families. Even though no one is perfect, for the most part, those who have good
families get along and cooperate in loving and helpful ways. To others this is
more of a marginal lifestyle between genetic family members. Still to others,
family relationships of any quality can be quite difficult and challenging,
even on a good day.
In Mark 3 we find
Jesus redefining the nature of real family
relationships, and even who are real and reliable family is and should be.
Earlier on in the passage Jesus is confronted by the religious leaders of His days.
They attempted to spiritually twist His actions into an illogical picture in
the public eye. They accused Jesus of casting out demons from people, utilizing
the power of Beelzebul – the ruler of the demons” (Mark 3:22)
This was a very
serious charge that reflected very negatively into the
local community. It is one thing to be accused of a serious crime by the Roman
authorities who were ruling the entire province of Palestine. In fact, in many
cases when someone was accused of a crime or persecuted by the representatives
of the Roman Empire, it was often considered to be a badge of honor by the
conservative indigenous Jewish population of Palestine.
But when their
own Jewish religious leaders accused one of their own
rabbis or prophets of spiritual or religious insurrection, it was an exceptionally
serious charge. It was serious enough that once the rumors and gossip started
spreading around the community, it caused the mother and brothers of Jesus
Christ to come looking for Him.
In Mark 3:32 it
reads; And a
multitude was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, "Behold, your
mother and your brothers are outside looking for you." Mary, the
mother of Jesus and His brothers were not there just to say “hello” or invite
Jesus to out for supper. They were not there to see if Jesus was OK and had
everything He needed. They were there to literally take custody of Jesus,
ending His identifiable “public ministry” and in effect, save His mortal life.
They were very afraid for His safety and well being. They had witnessed the end
result of other such people who had been accused of the same or similar
charges. They feared the same for their son and brother.
In the passage
Jesus makes an unexpected response to those who told Him
that His mother and brothers were there looking for Him. In verse 33 He asked
them, "Who are My mother and My
brothers?" To those gathered around Him it must have been a rather ridiculous
question. This question may have even made some of the listeners question the
sanity of Jesus Christ. In that society, your family was the very core of your very
In these villages
in Galilee the families and the general population were
very tightly knit together in a social framework that often necessitated their
own literal survival. Everyone basically knew everyone and who they were
related to. Marriages were often arranged so as to connect the various families
together for economic and/or occupational conveniences. Families were
identifiable by their genealogies as well as by character traits. And no doubt
that Jesus was now walking very close to the edge of His family’s social
comfort zone by drawing such accusations from the highly recognized religious
leaders that He did.
However, in all
of this Jesus was once again turning the sociological and
cultural mindsets of the people of His day around so that the reality of their
faith in Him could be better seen and experienced. He was asking them to think
deeper than the way they were all educated to process about the world they
lived in. He was asking them to see the spiritual reality of their faith instead
of the obvious physical tangible world they had learned through their historical
It might even be
somewhat safe to say that someone in the crowd verbally answered
Jesus’ question with a similar text we find later in Mark 6:3 “Is not
this the carpenter, the son of Mary,
the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judas, and Simon? Are not his sisters
here with us? No doubt they wondered why Jesus would ask them who His
mother and brothers were?
Jesus looked around at those
people gathered with
Him and made a statement that probably few of them could have actually understood.
He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! "For whoever does the will
of God, he is My brother and sister and mother."
Jesus was identifying His “real” spiritual family. It is the family of those
who are the real children of God because of their genuine faith in God. Those
who express genuine faith in God will be obedient to the will of God.
is interesting to note that in identifying His real family spiritually, He did
not mention or use the word “father”. He does identify the names “mother,
“brother” and even “sister”, but not the name “father”. This is because He only
had one true “Father” – His heavenly Father, God, who is our Creator. The
Apostle Paul later makes this reality very clear in Ephesians 3:14-15 For this reason,
I bow my knees before the
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth
derives its name.
spiritual family that Jesus was speaking of can be identified by one distinct
characteristic. That characteristic is not the particular church they attend,
or how often they attend it. It is not who they are connected to socially,
genetically, politically or even religiously. It is not based on the quality or
the quantity of their pious works. The identifying characteristic of these
family members is based solely on them doing the will of God.
if we truly are the spiritual family Jesus is referring to, how do we discern
the will of God, live in it and accomplish it in our daily lives. There is a
lot we can read throughout the New Testament that is very helpful and very
specific to our daily lives. Here are a few of the passages that can help us
discern and define God’s will. “Grace to
you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself
for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according
to the will of our God and Father.” (Galatians 1:3-4) God’s will is
for us to be free of the influences of the evil world we live in.
do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and
instruction of the Lord. Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters
according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your
heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves
of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.”
(Ephesians 6:4-6) God’s will is that we function in healthy relationships with
each other, serving Christ in everything we do together.
brethren, we request and
exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to
how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you
may excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the
authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your
sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of
you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in
lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man
transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the
avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly
warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in
sanctification.” (1Thessalonians 4:1-7) God’s will is that we live Christ-like
moral lives guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ.
yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as
the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of
evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God
that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1
Peter 2:13-15) God’s will is that our lives be a testimony of righteous living
as we live in the various institutions of humanity.
not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is
longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that
all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
God’s will is that every person should repent of their sins, avoiding eternal
punishment and receive the real life we can experience in Christ Jesus.
Ultimately it is God’s plan for all of us is to
become one family, one body united together in Jesus Christ. We are identified
with that family spiritually by the way we live our lives in that family. Jesus
said in John
13:34 & 35:"A new commandment
I give to you,
that you love
even as I have loved
you, that you also love
will know that you
are My disciples,
if you have
love for one
We are identified by God’s
Spirit expressing His great love through and to each other as individual family
members in Jesus Christ. This process should actually produce relationships
between fellow believers in Christ that are healthier and more productive than
those in our own natural earthly families. If our natural earthly family
members are also part of the family of God in Jesus Christ, we may actually
have a double blessing in this mortal life because of it..
There is an old cultural
saying that goes like this. “Blood is thicker than water.” What it is trying to
say is that someone’s family genetic bloodline makes them closer in a loyal
relationship with their own bloodline family members than anyone else who is
outside the family gene pool. Sometime parents of married children will inflict
such a binding statement on their children to retain their family loyalties
when they feel the relationship with their child is threatened by that child’s
spouse or friend.
In the Christian faith a
new believer is publically identified as a Christian by the act of Baptism.
Christian Baptism utilizes water in the identification process of a new
believer with Jesus Christ and His Church. Generally the new Christian is
immersed in water or sprinkled with water. In this act is where the irony of
the phrase “blood is thicker than water” gets reversed.
When Jesus says that those
who do the will of God are His “real” family, He is ultimately saying that
“water is thicker than blood”. In other words, those who genuinely come into
the family of God through the identification of the waters of baptism discerning
and then doing the will of God, set the new standard that water (baptism) is
thicker than blood (natural genetic family).
It is simply another
paradox that Jesus Christ seems to be excellent at giving us on how we should
perceive and receive the spiritual reality of His truth in our lives. As the
“real” family of Christians, we should live with each other portraying the same
attributes that we have seen Jesus reflect in the Gospels. This lifestyle of
faith will create healthy relationships in the Church that extend love, grace,
mercy, loyalty and reliability. This kind of interactive love will identify us
as His disciples and family in the culture and society we experience each
Now more than ever we as
Christians need to be more keenly aware what the truth of Jesus Christ living
in us is really all about. The world we experience daily is growing darker by
the moment. The so-called “Church” as the public seems to perceive it, appears
to be more seduced by the worldly culture around it than ever before. It is in
an hour such as this that our prayers and our motivations must be focused
solely on doing the will of God and being the true family of Jesus Christ that
He spoke of in this text in the Gospel of Mark.