Monday 18 January 2016

Bible Book:

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

Mark 3:31-35 Monday 18 January 2016

Psalm: Psalm 13


What an interesting passage with which to begin the Octave ofPrayer for Christian Unity! In an even stronger challenge thanyesterday this continues the theme of the Gospel writers seeingfaith and discipleship being stronger ties to Jesus thanfamily.

Some have seen these verses as Jesus rejecting his family, aftertheir attempt earlier in the chapter to restrain him (Mark3:21). However, that is not easily reconciled with his lateractions with Mary at the cross or indeed with James his brotherbecoming an apostle and leader in the early Church (see, forexample, Galatians 1:1; 2:9). If he did reject them then certainlythere also seems to have been reconciliation later.

Perhaps here we can see Jesus demonstrating an ability toneither cave in to family trying to take us away from the call ofGod to faithful discipleship nor cease to love and support ourfamilies - a tightrope that will frequently be challenging forus.

In this passage Jesus replaces that blood family with therelationship he offers to  disciples (just as John's Gospelhighlighted Mary's movement from family to disciple in yesterday's passage).

Jesus offers something rather different to other passages, wherethe relationship is more commonly that of a child (Mark10:15; John 1:12) or friend. Here we learn thatdisciples are like brother, sister and mother which overturnshierarchy. The idea of Jesus declaring that his disciples can havea relationship to him as that of a mother is astounding.

In this time of prayer for Christian Unity, coming after thestruggles within the global Anglican Communion last week, the example ofJesus who welcomes and does not reject (even when his family havetried to restrain and take him away from his calling) is verypowerful.

To Ponder

  • How does it feel to be a sister or brother of Jesus in contrastto a child of or friend of? In what ways is it helpful orchallenging?
  • How do we handle those who reject our beliefs and even thosewho try to take us away from them?
  • In what ways might we treat people from other traditions assisters and brothers? How might this change things?
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