Mark 3.20-35 Trinity 1 - 7/6/15
Mark 3.20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’ 22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.’ 23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.’ 30 He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an impure spirit.’ 31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting round him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you. 33 ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle round him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’
This reads like a television soap, switching from one scene back to another. First Jesus, the crowd, Jesus' earthly family, & the teachers of the law, back and forth
In our first scene Jesus entered a house, probably in Capernaum, and it was so packed with people he and his followers couldn't eat. Crowds had been travelling from as far afield as Jerusalem, verse 8, some eighty or more miles away.
Mark has already recorded that Jesus had called the first disciples, driven out and evil spirit, healed many, claimed equality with God by forgiving someone his sins, and healed on the Sabbath. So, when they hear that Jesus is now so popular he couldn't get a bite to eat his family were convinced that Jesus was truly mad! Or perhaps there were other reasons.
Jesus is a grown man, 30 or so years old. Independent, able to send evil spirits packing, heal people, outfox the Pharisees, and his family go to take charge of him. Perhaps the honour of their family is at stake in a culture where this is important. Perhaps Jesus' brothers were jealous of his powers and popularity. Perhaps Mary was concerned that Jesus would starve, after all he had experienced 40 days without food in the desert!
As the family are, perhaps, determinedly marching towards the house we cut to the second scene. A delegation of religious leaders had travelled the long distance from Jerusalem on a fact finding mission. Some of their peers were embarrassed by Jesus when he forgave and healed the paralytic and when he had healed a man on the Sabbath.
They focus on Jesus ability to drive out evil spirits. They thought that as they were from God Jesus must be from the devil. So, they accuse him of using the power of the devil to drive out evil spirits, who were furthering the devil's plans! Jesus points out that this is ridiculous, saying that a kingdom divided against itself will fall apart.
Jesus compares himself to a stronger man who has tied up a strong man, the devil or evil spirit, disabling him.
The religious leaders, illogically and erroneously, have accused Jesus of being possessed and inspired by evil. They ignore the fact that he has healed people, set others free from evil. Their religion blinds them to the compassion in Jesus.
I would just like us to note here that there is no doubt in their minds that Jesus is doing some incredible things. No-one is suggesting that his miracles and power are not real. And no-one is suggesting that Jesus is just a good man who is misunderstood. Jesus is mad, according to his family, or or bad according to the religious leaders.
The religious leaders have to report back to Jerusalem, so they conclude that Jesus is evil and he gets his power from the devil. Jesus said that this was blaspheming against the Holy Spirit which would mean that they couldn't be forgiven. The delegation had steadfastly denied the revelation that Jesus had come from God and that God's Spirit had anointed Jesus to carry out God's plan to save His people. That’s what the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is – a settled attitude of deliberate hostility against the work of God.
In part, then, this passage is about who Jesus is. This adds another facet to the picture that Mark has been building up early in his gospel. The other point that Mark makes is about who is in God's family...
Now we cut into the next scene. Jesus' earthly family have arrived. But they can't get in. The crowd are stopping them, just as they stopped Jesus and the disciples from eating.
Word is passed up and down the crowd from Jesus' family to Jesus. Perhaps, “Come outside. You mother and brothers are outside and they are worried that you're not eating enough.” They think he's mad and want to rescue him before he does something that will cause them any more grief!
The religious leaders thought they were OK with God because they were part of His people and they kept His law. Their blood would save them.
Jesus' family thought that because they shared the same blood as Jesus, they could control him.
Jesus said that God's people would not be determined by their blood, but by their personal relationship with him. The picture we have in verse 34 -5 is of crowds of people in a circle around Jesus, listening to Him. He says the true family member is someone who listens to His teaching and then does it.
So, it doesn't depend upon physical family ties, the nation you were born into, but only on knowing Jesus and obeying his teaching. It is a family that will extend all the way around the world. It doesn't divide people by their background, colour, race, sex, age, intelligence, wealth, or any other box people can be placed in It is a family that should embrace everyone.
There will be times when we slip, and don't follow Jesus example or teaching. In an ideal human family people ought to love, accept and forgive one another because of what joins them. This should be true of the church family, too.
Although we are not perfect, the head of our family is. And, one day, He will acknowledge that we are His brothers and sisters, and He will make us perfect. In God's family we are united by ties much stronger and deeper than genetics, stronger than marriage, stronger than human love. It is a family united by the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit living in the heart of every believer. This is something brought about by and since the first Pentecost, something we celebrated two weeks ago.
Jesus is from God. We should rejoice, listen to Him, watch Him, imitate Him, obey Him.
We are part of His worldwide family. We should rejoice, love one another, be accepting, forgiving, supportive, humble, serving.