Your Real Family

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Sermon - September 8,2013 
Pastor Joel L. Getts
Trinity Church
Miamisburg, Ohio

Mark 3:31-35

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, "Behold, Your 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” families.  

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 Testament.  

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 identity.

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 experiences.

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.

It 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.

This 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.

So, 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.

“And, fathers, 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.

Finally then, 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.

Submit 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. 

“The Lord is 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 one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

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 day.   

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.