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The Family of Jesus

Date: Jun. 23, 2019

Author: Bob Henkins

Mark 3:20-35

Key Verse: Mark 3:35

Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.

Throughout history family has played a major role in everyone’s life. From the very beginning the concept of family has always existed. When God created the world, he looked around and saw that everything was good, except for one thing, Adam was alone. And so, God created Eve right out of Adam’s own body, and thus the first family was born. This was to be one of the best blessings upon mankind. They were to be one flesh, a family unit, to work together serving and loving God and loving one another. Families are essential for they are the building blocks of communities, and communities are the building blocks of nations. But as Genesis taught us, Satan slithered in, created doubt, caused division and mistrust, and just as quick as the family was created, it has been under attack ever since.

All over the world, and to some degree all of us here, even though we all have different histories: cultural, economic, religious and social backgrounds, families are still a big deal. As many of us have experienced, family relationships, loyalty and honor have massive weight and influence on our lives. And back in the time of Jesus, the Jewish family had this extra added spiritual significance. The Jewish family was the local expression of the larger, Jewish nation. Jewish family was the local expression of the wider Jewish family of God. You were who you were in God’s kingdom BECAUSE of your family. So, as a family member, you weren’t supposed to abandon or disrespect your family. That’s one of the reasons why the Parable of the Prodigal Son was so shocking.

One of the defining moments of Jewish history that gave them identity was the annual family meal at Passover. Once the lamb had been slain in the Temple, the family would gather and eat together in remembrance of their exodus from Egypt. But through Jesus’ life and ministry, not only does he radically redefine the key family Passover meal around himself (helping us look forward to a greater rescue than that of Egypt), but he also redefines even those whom he calls his family, which are not drawn along blood lines or ancestry but in these terms of our actions and faith. And in doing so, Jesus opens the coming reality of the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham on being the father of many nations, with the inclusion of the gentiles into God’s family. And we are going to see the beginning of that through today’s passage.

Our passage starts this morning in verse 20-21 where we see the concern of Jesus’ family. Let’s take a look, “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.”” Once again, we find Jesus teaching as he normally did and as usual, a crowd gathers wherever he goes. It appears that the crowd and Jesus were so intense that Jesus and his disciples weren’t able to eat. Maybe there was no food to eat, or no room because it was standing room only.

There seems to be two interpretations on what Jesus’ family was thinking. The first being that Jesus’ family was concerned about his health. He was constantly mobbed by crowds to the point of hindering his basic necessities of life, like eating. And as we know, sometimes crowds can be unruly, people have died as a result of being trampled to death by crowds, at concerts and Black Friday sales. So, Jesus’ family wanted to rescue him, not to manhandle him, which I read was a common interpretation of word meaning ‘to take charge.’

It’s was embarrassing to have it recorded that Jesus’ mom and brothers tried to stop his work because they thought he was crazy. (If someone was making Jesus’ story you probably wouldn’t write this, but it’s one of those things that gives credibility to the gospel writers who were faithful to what happened even if it was embarrassing.

And second, actually, (I read) the idea that Jesus’ family opposed him troubled some ancient copyists who changed the text to read, “When the scribes and the rest heard.” The concern of Jesus’ family was not likely limited to his physical needs (v. 20); they probably were more concerned about the family’s reputation because in their estimation Jesus was acting in a fanatical and even insane way. The same verb is used in Acts 26:24 and 2 Cor 5:13 and means literally to stand outside of oneself. The verb translated “to take charge” means to arrest in 6:17; 12:12; 14:1, etc. Evidently, they intended to seize Jesus and force him to return to Nazareth with them. The Greek says that these people thought Jesus was insane. Insane people were shielded from public view, as they were seen as a source of shame to the family.

 

Look at how terrible the religious leaders were and how they slandered Jesus in verse 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.””Jesus’ ministry had got the attention of the big wigs in Jerusalem. These religious leaders had apparently been sent by the Sanhedrim, to watch him, and to undermine his influence if they could. I find it interesting that they NEVER denied Jesus’ power and the fact that he performed miracles. They couldn’t deny it because everyone saw the miracles. So, they tried to discredit him by claiming it was demonic power. They claimed that Jesus was demon possessed. Their official judgment was “He’s not right, possessed by Beelzebul.” It’s so sad, one of the most prominent miracles that Jesus performed was driving out evil spirits. They should have celebrated it, because a tormented person was freed and healed and Satan’s dominion was shrinking. But they didn’t, they condemned Jesus. Beelzebul (or Baal-zebul) was the name of a Philistine god (it meant lord of the heavenly dwelling) but “Baal-Zebub,” (which appears in 2 Kgs 1:2) was a derogatory term used by the Israelites (which meant lord of flies) and they used it to ridicule and show contempt for Jesus.

So how did Jesus respond to the religious leaders, take a look at verses 23-30. “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.”” Notice that Jesus doesn’t dismiss the existence of Satan, and a real kingdom of evil. Jesus replied by showing how foolish the accusation was. If he cast out demons by demonic power, Satan would be working against himself. Jesus illustrated his claim by three “parables”: the divided kingdom (v. 24), the divided house (v. 25), and the binding of the strong man by a stronger (v. 27). The “strong man” is Satan, and the stronger one is Jesus, who was in the process of tying up Satan and carrying off his possessions (those whom he controlled) by exorcising demons.

We shouldn’t overlook the wonderful truth in v28 because of the difficulty of v29. Except for one sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, God will forgive all persons all sins! (I read that the importance of what Jesus said is underscored by Mark’s first use of the word amen) I read that the word “blasphemy,” which is simply a transliteration of the Greek, refers to slandering human beings or, as here, being irreverent or defiant toward God. So, then they blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, dishonoring God by assigning his power to Satan. What could be more hateful than this? What greater blasphemy could be imagined? Basically, they were giving Satan and his demons the credit for the Holy Spirit’s work. In verse 30, Mark defined the sin that will never be forgiven. It wasn’t a single act but a habitual action and attitude. The imperfect tense could be translated, “They kept on saying.” In this instance at least the sin was committed by scholars and religious authorities, not laypeople. Apparently, the sin is quite rare. In addition to the parallel passages in Matthew and Luke, the only other instance of a similar sin in the New Testament that the Apostle John referred to as “the sin that leads to death” in 1 John 5:16–17. That sin probably is refusal to identify the divine Christ with the human Jesus. Thus, in both Mark and 1 John the unforgivable sin is the stubborn refusal to acknowledge that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior and that God is, and has, worked in the man Jesus. Long ago, there was a student in our ministry who was worried about accidently committing the unforgivable sin. But this wasn’t what the writer Mark was talking about. What is meant here is a willful denial of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

A while later, Jesus’ family returned, take a look at verse 31. “Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.” Mark waned to contrast between the family standing outside and the crowd, including the disciples, who were sitting around Jesus inside the house. So, he was trying make the case that Jesus’ family didn’t want to go inside, rather than they were able to get in as in 2:2. Romans 8:9 – “In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” Jesus said in Mt 3:8-9, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” John 1:12-13, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” By the grace of God, we Gentiles have been grafted into God’s family and enjoy all the blessings. (Rom 11:17)

 

In verses 32-35 we see Jesus’ response to his family, “A crowd was sitting around 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 around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”” Jesus’ disciples were among those seated in a circle around him. Despite all their failures, Jesus acknowledged them as those who did God’s will and therefore, he considered them as his true family. Mark’s Gentile readers/hearers and modern Christians (the “whoever” in v. 35) have been encouraged that relationship with God is not a matter of genetics but of obedience to God’s will. It is difficult to conceive of a more meaningful symbol than being a part of the family of God and his Son. Of course, Jesus wasn’t teaching that blood relationships have no value, only that they must be subordinate to spiritual relationships. Even so, his teaching was radical. It seemed to threaten the most important human institution.

 

In conclusion, in this passage, we see how Jesus’ physical family viewed Jesus incorrectly. They looked at him humanisticly. They thought he was doing too much and over extending himself. He was too fanatical and out of his mind. They were concerned and they didn’t want to look bad and have their family name be tarnished. However, their concerns were pretty self-centered. And throughout history, many families have been destroyed by people’s selfish acts.

The religious leaders also viewed Jesus incorrectly but theirs view was more malicious. The religious leaders were trying to save their position and keep their power and influence because they were jealous and worried about Jesus’ popularity.

Each of these groups, are very self-centered and concerned about their own agenda. But the family of God is concerned obeying God and doing his will. Jesus NEVER acted outside of God’s will. He ALWAYS submitted to the Holy Spirit and the will of his Father. I remember how Jesus taught the disciples to pray in the Lord’s prayer, it started, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt 6:9-10). Or when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39)

We have unity in doing God’s will. It’s what unites us. All of us are here in part because of our desire to do God’s will. But for us to be able to carry our God’s will, we need Jesus’ and the Holy Spirit’s help because alone we can’t do it because of the strong man Satan’s hinderance. The Bible reminds us that “… our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12) namely Satan who seeks to destroy our family just as he did all the way back in Genesis. But in reality, we are too weak and sinful, thus we need Jesus’ help.

 

In the passage, the concept of house and family are mentioned all over the place. This event takes place in someone’s house (possibly Peter’s) and Jesus’ family hears about it and comes to seize him, Jesus talks about a house divided and a strong man’s house, and it ends with him saying whoever does the will of God is part of his family. So, what does it really mean to be a part of God’s family? From this passage we see two dynamics to our family relationships, one is our family as church, and the other is our physical family.

In regard to our family relationships as church, we need to recognize that God’s call in Jesus and allegiance to Him and His family goes above our physical family loyalty. For some of us this has, or will, mean you will face rejection and opposition for following Jesus. For all of us this means we need to work at being what we are, the eternal family of God. We need to cultivate our family bonds and love one another. And try to minimize things (like culture, selfish desires, etc) that break us down. That’s one reason that we eat together, because sharing food is an intimate activity and through it we can learn about each other and grow in a deeper way.

The second aspect is our physical family relationships. The call of God doesn’t mean we disregard our duties to our physical family. Paul tells people not to break their marriages up because one is not a believer. Rather, our call in our physical families is to reflect again the family values of love and faithfulness. Remember that marriage is meant to be a picture of the Messiah and the church (Eph 5:31,32). Love and faithfulness reflecting the Messiah and the church. This means that those who are married and call themselves followers of Messiah Jesus must flee impurity, lust, adultery, and hatred. Our marriages, our families are to reflect the faithfulness and love of God, and that is a high calling. There can be no room for hatred (which is a heart of murder), or lust (which is a heart of adultery) be associated with the call to reflect God’s purity, faithfulness and selfless love?

Because of Jesus, we have been adopted into God’s family, and amazingly all of us are the realization of God’s covenantal promise to Abraham. We show ourselves to be ‘in the family’ by our love for Jesus, our love for each other and by doing God’s will in the power of the Spirit. This family is an eternal family that calls us to a deeper allegiance than blood. I truly believe that as we work out more fully what it means to be in the household, the family of Messiah Jesus, we will see his resurrection power at work IN US and THROUGH US as we plunder the strong man’s house and bring more people into the eternal family of God.

Remember the hymn we sang this morning, “To God be the glory” gives it all, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory; great things He hath done.

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