26 October 2021Mark 3:31-35
And looking at those who sat around him, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.' (vs 34-35)
Yesterday we read earlier in this chapter of Jesus’ family setting out “to restrain him” because they thought, or others suggested, that he was “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). A related brief glimpse of what Jesus’ brothers thought of him is found in John 7:1-10 where we are told “not even his brothers believed in him”. He refers to “his mother and brothers” but there is no mention of Joseph and it is therefore assumed he was dead by this time, never being mentioned in the gospels after the accounts of Jesus' birth in Luke 2.
Mark reports in verse 32 the arrival of Jesus’ family at the time when Jesus was debating with his opponents the matter of where his power came from. It is very likely that the “crowd sitting around him” also included many supporters. We are invited to picture Jesus indoors in which case there would have been significant crowds around the doorway. It is reported to Jesus that his family are outside asking for him. Evidently they did not consider that they had the right to barge through to reach him.
Jesus' initial response on being told that his family are wanting him suggests a rebuff. But we do not need to read it as critical of his family since the words are addressed to the messengers who wrongly assume that family will be his first priority. However we have already been given the clue in verse 21 that his family don’t understand him and it is perhaps unlikely that Jesus is not aware of their uncertainty over his chosen path. Therefore he proceeds to draw out a lesson for all his hearers. Obedience to God rather than a formal relationship is what makes a person a sister or brother to Jesus.
- Is there someone in your life who is unrelated to you yet more precious than a brother or sister, mother or father? What makes them so special?
- Are there times when, even for a Christian, family must come first before the claims of other people?
- Do you think of Jesus as a brother? What are the implications of doing so?