Scripture: Mark 3:19b-35
Key verses: (31-35) Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
Reflection: So awkward! I have always thought Jesus could have waited until his mother and brothers were gone to have this lesson on family. Weren’t they hurt? Did the family of Jesus know that he was not diminishing their value but reminding us that everything is always about God.
Jesus is also giving us a broader definition of family. The faith family. The love, loyalty, compassion found in family can also be found in this broader “family” of faith. In Christ, we are brothers and sisters. Preaching on this passage, William Willimon said,
Your human family, for any of its virtues, is just too small, too closely circumscribed. … Thus, when someone steps up and answers Jesus’ call to follow him, the church washes that person in water – baptism – which says, among other things, that the person has been reborn, started over, and has been adopted into a new God-formed family. It is as if the person gets a new name, “Christian,” that takes precedence over that person’s family name. It is as if the person has already died to old attachments and former relationships and has already been raised to new life. And the church is that fresh, new family that is composed of those who have heard Jesus’ “Follow me” and have stepped forward and said “Yes.” … Thus, when parents bring a child forward for baptism, Christian initiation, the pastor takes the child from them and says, in effect, “You are two wonderful people, but you are not knowledgeable enough, not skilled enough on your own, to raise a Christian. Therefore, we’ll adopt your child, we’ll take responsibility for this baby, we will help you raise a Christian.” In a world of grandparents without grandchildren close by, and single-parent families, and grandchildren growing up without grandparents, and marriages under stress, you need a bigger family than the one you were born into. You must be born again into a new, far flung family, a family as large as the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Working with the youth of the church, I am aware of the support needed from the “faith family” in helping our young people survive adolescence. We need our young people to have a family of sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and children who are part of a faith community in order to grow together in love and compassion. And survive. The faith lives of our young people transcend our family and find strength together in the holy spirit. I think that is what Jesus is trying to say in this passage from Mark.
Prayer: God, stretch my idea of family and open my eyes to the reality of family that already exists in my life. Help me be faithful to my brothers and sisters as we seek to follow your will. Amen.
Author: Michelle Thomas-Bush
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].