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Family Matters

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Family Matters
Mark 3:31-35
Open your Bibles to Mark chapter 3.
The Bridger Wilderness Area in Wyoming is one of the most pristine and beautiful areas in the country for hiking in the United States. A number of years ago hikers were asked to fill out comment cards. Here are some of their actual complaints…
· Please avoid building trails that go uphill; escalators would help on steep sections.
· Too many bugs and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.
· The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
· A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed?
· A McDonalds would be nice at the trailhead.
· There are TOO Many Rocks...
These comments and complaints reveal that most of us are looking for something that is comfortable and convenient even in our faith. And in a way, we push back when Christ calls us to completely commit to Him.
Last week we looked at some strong reactions to Jesus. His family thought He was mad and the religious leaders believed he was bad. The scribes thought He was demon-possessed and those closest to Him thought He was crazy. We learned that the unforgivable sin is attributing the power of Jesus to Satan.
In our text today we move back to the natural family of Jesus.
Picture the scene. Jesus was back in Capernaum where he had performed so many of his miracles—where the crowds had been so intense that some had even dug a hole in a neighbor’s roof to get to him. And now even greater crowds, attracted by his following miracles and his words (no man ever spoke as Jesus did), were pressing in on him.
This multitude was a desperate mixture.
At the center were the newly chosen apostles, the twelve, hanging on Jesus’ every word. In contrast to these eager faces, the indignant faces of the scribes scowled, also turning over his every syllable, having just accused Jesus of being in league with Satan.
Some in the multitude were eager, some ecstatic, some puzzled, some perplexed, and some furious and blasphemous.
Every extreme was represented: from nationalist zealots to collaborating tax collectors, from ignorant fishermen to trained academics.
At the border of the surging throng, standing by nervously, was Jesus’ family.
Unknown to the crowd, Jesus’ mother and his younger brothers hoped to lure him away so they could privately take him back to Nazareth where he could be protected from his mania. A message was passed from person to person. When it reached Jesus, many of the people knew the nature of the request and expected Jesus to give in.
They certainly weren’t ready for his startling reply.
His words would be startling words in any culture, but in Hebrew culture, where the family was so sacred, they were shocking! A murmur of amazement swept the multitude. Mary, who had nursed and dressed Jesus and loved him all the way into his manhood, and now had come for him in loving concern, was crushed.
His brothers were shocked, and probably angry. Even though we have the advantage of Biblical perspective, we still, as parents and brothers and sisters, find his words difficult. This is one of Jesus’ hard sayings, and one famous skeptic, used it to accuse Jesus of “trampling under foot everything that is human—love and blood and country.”
So, before we read this brief passage, let’s pray.
Pray!
Mark 3:31–35 ESV
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
There are three things going on in our passage and the first is:

an appeal from family

Jesus is in a house teaching to a packed audience:
31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him.
There are so many people crowded into the house that his family can’t get close enough to get his attention. This had to be frustrating for them because they had hiked 30 miles from Nazareth to Capernaum through a lot of rocks to do an “intervention” and now they couldn’t even have a conversation with Jesus.
Some of you might be wondering how Jesus could have siblings because you’ve been taught that Jesus was Joseph and Mary’s only child. While Mary was a virgin when she had Jesus, she and Joseph had other children after Jesus was born.
The word “brothers” literally means, “from the same womb.” There is a word for “relatives” that Mark could have used but he chose to use the word for brother. If we look at some other passages, we can see that Jesus not only had four brothers (half-brothers), but sisters as well.
Matthew 13:55–56 ESV
Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 And are not all his sisters with us?...
Acts 1:14 ESV
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Galatians 1:19 ESV
But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.
The word Mark uses for “called” refers to a summons and has a sense of authority behind it.
When I was little, I would be out in the yard playing (because we played outside back then) and my grandma might call and say it was time to eat. And sometimes I might have ignored it. I’m busy. I’m playing. But if I ignored it long enough, her voice would change a little bit and I knew without a doubt it was time to go.
These family members are urging Jesus to stop what He’s doing and to come immediately.
Let me make the obvious point that instead of joining Jesus in what He’s doing, they are trying to get Jesus to do what they want. We often do the same, don’t we? We want Jesus to bless what we’ve got going on instead of lining our lives up with His plans and purposes.
Maybe we need to start asking: “God, show me where you’re working so I can partner with you to accomplish your will.”
32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.”
Jesus is told that his family has arrived but He doesn’t stop what He’s doing because He’s following His father. Maybe Mary should have remembered what Jesus said when He was 12.
Luke 2:49 ESV
And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
There was an appeal from family and next:

a question about family

Once the message comes to Jesus that his family is asking for Him, He asks a question that would have startled his audience and his family:
“Who are my mother and my brothers?”
I imagine those sitting in the house looking around at each other. The tension must have been intense. You could have cut it with a knife. The crowd would have expected Jesus to stop his teaching and go with his mom and siblings because in that culture, there was nothing more important than family.
The response of Jesus seems radical to us but would have been revolutionary to those listening because the family bond in first century Israel was tight and long lasting. It was normal for children to live close to their parents, sometimes in the same house. A man would often add rooms on to his family home to make space for when he got married. Loyalty to the family was equated with loyalty to God.
Who is my family?
The people in the room with him would have thought – uh, we just told you that they are outside and they want you to come out. Weren’t you listening? Did you forget for a minute who your mom is and your brothers? They want to have some words with you. They look pretty serious too. Your mom has her arms crossed and looks a little upset. You might want to go.
Who is my family?
Jesus asks this question because he wants to make an important point. Jesus was good at asking questions and making people think for themselves and hopefully come to the proper conclusion. In Mark chapter 8 alone, he asks eight different questions. He was trying to get his listeners (and us) to slow down, think and be ready for what he would say next.
There was an appeal and question about family. Then:

a redefinition of family

Instead of easing the awkward tension, Jesus dials it up even higher.
34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!
Matthew 12:49 tells us that he pointed at, stretched his hand toward his disciples and said these are my mother and brothers. He looks around and redefines the family.
Don’t miss this. Being a half-brother to Jesus didn’t make any difference to their spiritual condition. In fact, according to John 7:5, his siblings didn’t even believe until after the resurrection.
You can be in the best family ever but if you’re not in the family of God through faith in Christ you’re lost.
I’m sure someone was thinking, “But Jesus, it’s YOUR mom out there! It’s Mary!”
And some people give Mary a lot more prestige and prominence than is due her. And it isn’t just a recent thing, to hold Mary in such high esteem. Yes, she was chosen out of all the women alive to carry the Son of God and to raise him. It was a great honor and people even during Jesus’s earthly ministry were placing her on a pedestal.
In Luke chapter 11, as Jesus is teaching:
Luke 11:27–28 ESV
As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Jesus is saying, that isn’t how this whole thing works. She isn’t blessed because of that. Rather, instead all of the people hear God’s Word and obey it – those are the people who are really blessed. Don’t get confused about the difference. She is just a woman who is blessed because she heard and she obeyed. You can be just like that too. Don’t think she is any better or any holier than you can be.
Back in Mark, Jesus gives us some clarification about how to make sure one is in the family of God and it is really similar to this:
35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
We talk a lot about the importance of not having to “do” anything to become a Christian. Works don’t save us. You can’t work your way into being a Christian. And that’s completely true.
So how can Jesus say doing God’s will is an entrance requirement into his family? The key is found in:
John 6:28–29 ESV
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
Charles Spurgeon put it this way:
“I will ever maintain that by grace we are saved, and not by ourselves; but equally must I testify, that where the grace of God is, it will produce fitting deeds.”
The idea is if there is faith, then fruit better be there as well. If there’s faith then there better be deeds. If you believe in Christ, if you’ve trusted him as the Lord of your life, if He is your personal savior then it is going to change you. Life is going to be different for you. You are going to change. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen.
You’ll want to do things differently. You’ll start thinking about someone besides yourself. Your attitude will change. You’ll be a different person living in the same body and that body is still going to want to control you, direct you, and move you down the same old roads that you always gone down.
But instead of being dependent on the flesh, we can depend on the Spirit and we can choose a new path and a new direction.
A commitment to Christ is costly.
Following Him through life is hard. Let’s be clear. Jesus is not rejecting family relationships. He’s just saying that your relationship to Him through the new birth is more important than a connection you may have through a natural birth.
If you think about it, I have a lot of different family roles in the different relationships that I have. I’m a son because I know Christ as my savior. I’m a husband to Angie but she is also my sister in Christ. I’m a father to my boys but they’re also my brothers because of what Christ has done for us. I’m the pastor of this church and that makes you my brothers and sisters.
We’re a family.
And as a family, there are some things that I think we need to keep in mind. First:

If you live out your faith, some in your family will think you’ve lost it.

If it happened to Jesus, it’ll happen to you. Maybe your parents don’t understand your faith or your spouse doesn’t get it or your children think you’re too fanatical. Some of the people that you’re biologically related to are going think you have left the reservation with this whole church thing.
After Peter complained about how much they had left, Jesus said this:
Mark 10:29–30 ESV
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
This is a mind-boggling statement. Whatever you’ve lost on account of Christ you will receive a hundred times “now in this time” brothers, sisters and mothers. Where do you get this many siblings and parents? Right here in the church. This is your spiritual family. We’re brothers and sisters and we need each other.
And this spiritual family is your real family, and it’s more substantial than the genetic bonds of a physical family relationship. Because let’s be honest, some of the people we’re related to, we don’t want to be or at least admit.

Invest time in your family but not at the expense of faith.

If the sin of parents some time ago was to ignore their family, today it’s to make children the very center of everything. We don’t have a patriarchy or a matriarchy; we have a “kindergarchy” where family revolves around children. We do our kids no favors if they think they are the center of our world and existence. Now, this might be hard for you but we must love God more than our kids.
I read this and it is a great reminder:
Our children don’t really belong to us. That’s a hard word, but a good word, for there is no better parent than our heavenly Father.
If we make them the center of our lives that means Christ isn’t. If we teach them that they’re the center of everything they won’t think they need Christ. Christ has to be the center.

Reach out to the least and the lost.

While giving priority to the faith development of our families, we must never forget the forgotten.
Matthew 25:40 ESV
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
And that is why it is important that we remember to do what we can to help the less fortunate. We need to look for ways to reach out and instead of pushing someone back down; we need to offer our hands to lift them up.
Did you notice in this passage that there is an “in” and an “out”? Twice we read that the natural family of Jesus was “outside.” This is the scandal of the gospel – those who think they’re insiders are usually outsiders; and those who start as outsiders often end up on the inside. The least likely person can be Jesus’s brother or sister.
The way to enter the family of faith is through receiving what Jesus has done for you on the cross.
John 1:12–13 ESV
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
The key is not who you’re related to but who you have a relationship with. And the only way for that to happen is to be born again.
The Christian life isn’t easy. It’s not meant to be. Discipleship is difficult. The path is often uphill and the path is rocky. It won’t be comfortable and it won’t be convenient. Your commitment to put Christ first will be tested.
Will you complain and seek the easy way or will you follow Christ into hard places?
It’s worth it because He’s worth it. Obey the Word of God and embrace the will of God.
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