Sunday

10 June 2012

Mark 3:20-35

"Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." (v. 35)

Background

Throughout the first half of Mark's Gospel there are numerous encounters with Jesus which raise the question of who Jesus is. The stories and descriptions written by Mark are aimed at the reader drawing the conclusion that he is the Messiah.

In this passage we see not only the Jewish scribes, but also his family grappling with questions as to the source of Jesus' power and authority. This is a subtle change as up until this point Jesus has been questioned over his religious practice (eg Mark 2:1-12).

The claim is made that Satan is in possession of Jesus (verse 22). His family think he is "out of his mind" (v. 21), thereby implying that he is controlled by demons whereas the scribes used the term Beelzebul for Satan. This claim is carefully dealt with by Jesus. He explains that if Satan casts out demons then he is acting against himself. Satan cannot cast himself out, thereby implying that this happens by another, higher authority. Jesus uses the expression of a "strong man" (v. 27), here making a link to the Scriptures where God the redeemer is frequently referred to as the strong one (eg "their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of hosts is his name" (Jeremiah 50:34)). Claiming the work of God to be the work of Satan as the scribes had done, is an "eternal sin" (v. 28). It is God that brings salvation: by turning away from God as the scribes are doing is to deny that salvation.

The scene continues with Jesus raising the question as to who are his mother and brothers. His own family had failed to recognise that his work was of God. It makes no difference how closely related they are if they do not accept his authority. It was not those in a close position, or the highly educated, as the scribes were, who acknowledged Jesus, but the ordinary people. It is those who do the will of God who are recognised by Jesus as his family.

To Ponder

Why do you think that Jesus own family did not recognise and accept him for who he was?

Do your friends and family see and recognise Jesus in your words and actions? What challenge could you set for yourself this week to make your faith more visible to others?


Bible notes author

Meg Prowting

After having studied theology at university, Meg went on to teach religious studies in a large secondary school. She now works for the Connexional Team as the youth ministries development officer, where she enjoys the opportunity to work with young people and their workers/leaders..