Mark 3.20 thru 35 Its Not What You Know...but Who You Know
It’s Not What You Know...but, “Who You Know”
Mark 3:20-35 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons."
Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."
He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit."
Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."
"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I know I introduced myself before and I’m not here to talk about me today but I wanted to share a little about myself to help illustrate our gospel text for today.
My dad was in the Navy so I spent some of my younger years growing up overseas in Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, etc. When I was nine, my parents divorced and my mom and I moved back to the States. We lived in, Mill Valley, a suburb just over the Golden Gate Bridge, North of San Francisco. The area is popular and known for its great views and close proximity to the city. CNN/Money Magazine ranked Mill Valley 10th out of the top 100 Best Places to live in the United States in 2005. Movies stars, famous artists and musicians live in the area.
Many of the kids I went to school with had big homes with nice views of the bay or the city. Their parents had the latest cars, electronics, etc. My mom and I lived on her meager salary from her bookkeeping job in San Francisco. She really worked hard to keep this growing, tall, lanky boy fed and in clothes...that fit.
I remember some of my classmates’ parents were members at the Mill Valley Racquet Club. It was (I’m sure still is) a very expensive, exclusive club. You have to be related to a member or be invited to get in. Once, just once, Mark O’Brien invited me to go with him and his family to the Club to go swimming. I knew someone, so I was in.
I’m sure we all have stories about getting into some place, or getting something because of who we knew...or who we were related to. It makes you feel pretty special to be included in something that is only for certain people. Maybe you have a membership to a club. Maybe you have box seats or season tickets to the Reds games. (If that’s true please introduce yourself after the service.) You are INCLUDED. You’re IN. “They say nepotism has its rewards.” “It’s not what you know but who you know.”
The gospel lesson also relates to us who is IN and who is OUT. This particular part of Mark is what is called an intercalation. This is a story within a story, the account of Jesus’ family is book ended around the account of the scribes blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. The family is outside after traveling from Nazareth and they are introduced in this first part of the text as wanting to “take charge of Him.” They even said that He was “out of His mind!” This is strong stuff! His own family is saying some of the most impeaching words yet about Jesus. They want to stop Him and take Him away as though they were afraid of who might hear Him. Well it turns out it is too late. A group of scribes has been sent from Jerusalem to confront Him. They come accusing Him of being possessed by Beelzebul! Both of these groups, at least at this time, are clearly not doing the will of God. In fact they are putting into question whether Jesus is. They are not IN the family of Christ because of this.
I shared with you about my years growing up in Mill Valley. I’d like to share a little more about my life. I told you that I wasn’t a member of the local country club but I also wasn’t a member of the Body of Christ. My mom stopped attending church before I came along. My dad was a “foxhole Christian” during the Korean War but later he would describe himself as an atheist. My step-mother was a practicing Buddhist but my dad never participated or interfered with her worship. In my early life I had virtually no religious training. When I was in my twenties I remember how sad my mom was when she asked me if I believed in God and I told her, “No”. I didn’t know God. I hadn’t been to church. I hadn’t been invited to Sunday school. I had no idea that there was Vacation Bible School, let alone know what it was. Sure, I had heard the name, Jesus. I had heard of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Robinhood, too. But they didn’t really impact my life.
It wasn’t until I met my wife that I actually got introduced to who Jesus was. My wife is a lifelong Lutheran and, though she didn’t always faithfully attend church, while we were dating I would go with her to her home church, Trinity Lutheran Church, San Rafael, CA. It was a foreign experience for me. I didn’t know what the Lord’s Prayer was and everyone around me knew it by heart. I had a difficult time trying to reconcile my understanding of God as the Creator with my belief in evolution. I had to try to understand how a great God would accept someone who had lived a less than stellar life. I had racked up 30 years of sin, guilt, and regret. How could anyone want me in their club, let alone family?
Through the love and forgiveness shown through the church I began to understand this Creator God. That He came down to earth to die for me…came to save me. He wanted me! I was IN!
Looking back now I can see how the Spirit had softly spoken to me. In college a classmate did a persuasive speech on the Historical Evidence of Jesus Christ and he in fact did walk the earth. This was a pretty big step for me to acknowledge that Jesus was actually a man that did exist in history. That didn’t mean that I had to accept Him as the Son of God but it brought that one step closer. Friends had shared their faith, planting seeds throughout my college years. The Spirit was working on me all through my life and worked through people that were members of congregations just like this one.
In today’s text, Jesus is talking to a crowd. Someone tells him that his mother and brothers are looking for Him. But Jesus says, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” He explains, “Here are my mother and brothers; He motioned to the crowd (Motion to the congregation). For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and my mother.” ...It’s not what you know but WHO you know.
Brothers and sisters, we are IN! The great thing is that it isn’t because we are super athletes, celebrities, wealthy, or members at an exclusive club....we’re IN because we know Jesus. He got us IN through His blood, death and resurrection. Through His work of salvation we are INCLUDED in the heavenly kingdom. And better yet, we aren’t just invited friends, we are family. We have been adopted as heirs in God’s Kingdom. We’ve got the family membership. (Motion to the congregation) We are His mother, brothers and sisters.
And there’s more...we get to invite our family, friends and neighbors to be included in this great gift. We get to introduce them to Jesus so they can be IN, too. What a privilege! We don’t have to watch from the inside those who can’t make it in the door because they don’t measure up. The truth is, none of us would measure up…but Jesus took care of that. It’s WHO you know!
Let’s thank God today for letting and getting us IN. And let’s be encouraged to share Jesus with others so that they can experience the forgiveness, freedom, and peace that as members of the Body of Christ we are blessed to have.
Now may that peace which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds unto life everlasting. Amen.