Jesus continually demonstrated that the reign of God does not correspond directly to any earthly entities. In this passage, the demonstration becomes rather pointed.
A crowd has gathered so quickly around Jesus and the twelve that they did not even have time to find food. We are reminded of another time when Jesus baffled his hearers by saying, “My food is to do the will of [God] who sent me” (John 4:34). This time it is Jesus’ own family who seem baffled. They hear others suggest that Jesus is not in control of his own faculties. It is unclear if they are worried for him or perhaps embarrassed. They clearly do not fully understand him. Even Jesus’ rejection of the charges—“How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand”—may be baffling to them all.
Finally someone lets Jesus know that his mother and siblings are in the crowd. And he utters those words that seem antithetical to some twenty-first century ideas of family: “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Depending on our situation, these words can be radically troubling or radically comforting. Many of us have experienced family situations that have encompassed all that is valuable in human connection. For them, Jesus' words can be disturbing.
But others have experienced the need to find family beyond biology. Many find community in like-minded people in groups like church. When we find community with shared values, such as doing the will of God, we find family and sustenance. Jesus said it this way: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” “My food is to do the will of [God,] who sent me.”
God, thank you for providing both family and food as I try each day to do your will. Amen.
We sometimes struggle to believe in the power of a God we cannot see. The psalmist declares that God is greater than any earthly king and will preserve us in the face of our enemies. However, in the time of Samuel, the Israelites demanded a human king to lead them into battle. God was not enough for them. Paul admonishes the Corinthians not to repeat this mistake. We should not think that what we see is the ultimate reality. What we see is temporary; what cannot be seen is eternal. Perhaps Jesus is teaching a similar idea in this somewhat troubling passage in Mark. Jesus is not against family, but he is emphasizing that human families are temporary; spiritual family is eternal.
Read 1 Samuel 8:4-20. How are you influenced by the culture around you? What helps you try to align your priorities with God’s?
Read Psalm 138. When you “walk in the midst of trouble,” how do you remember God’s presence with you?
Read 2 Corinthians 4:13–5:1. How do you find yourself being renewed today in spite of parts of your “outer nature” that may be “wasting away”?
Read Mark 3:20-35. Who is your spiritual family? Whom do you identify as your brothers, sisters, mother, and father?
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