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Tuesday
Jun042019

Joining the Family of Jesus

Mark 3:31-35.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Sunday, June 02, 2019.

One of the great themes of Scripture is the family of God.  Some like to use this phrase to refer to all humans.  However, the Bible makes a distinction between natural biology and spiritual life.  Thus, not all humans are a part of God’s spiritual family according to the Bible.  We see this in John 1:12-13.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

This biblical concept of becoming a child of God should not be confused with the many mythologies of the ancient world.  In these we often see particular gods coming down to earth and physically sire an offspring that were referred to as demi-gods.  This idea is diametrically opposed to the testimony of Scripture because it focuses on the flesh and sees the perfection of the flesh as the answer.  Thus, Zeus is actually copulating with a human maiden and she is actually birthing a child that is half human and half god.  These demi-gods would be faster, stronger, smarter, etc. than normal humans.

Yet, the Bible speaks of a spiritual birth that must take place in order for us to become a part of God’s family.  Birth in this case is a metaphor that is used of a person who received revelation from God and faith is conceived in their heart and mind.  They put their trust in God, namely in the One whom He sent, Jesus.  When this happens, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within that person and makes them spiritually alive and alert to His presence.  This is what it means to become a child of God.  We are not stronger or faster than normal humans.  Rather, we are in connection with the God of heaven and are being led by His Holy Spirit to become like Jesus, who is the exact representation of God the Father.

I pray that you are a part of the family of God, but today we are going to spend some time discovering just what that means.

The family of Jesus struggled with his ministry

It is no secret that the family of Jesus had trouble with him.  When he began his ministry, he had multitudes continually surrounding him and imposing on his time.  In fact, it was to the point that Mark says that Jesus had difficulty just eating bread (Mark 3:20).  Also, he was not being received well by the religious experts, who increasingly made their disapproval evident.  In our passage today we find Mary and her sons showing up to talk to Jesus.  However, before we get into this, we should remember the previous episode in this same chapter, verse 21.

There we are told that “his own people” came to take hold of him because they thought he was out of his mind.  When we compare that event with the one in verses 31-35, we see that the latter passage is far more specific on just who is involved.  “His own people” is very general, but clearly could involve any of his family, relatives, friends, and neighbors from the Nazareth area.  Mark has gone out of his way to put two similar events within 10 verses of each other.  Events in which those, who were close to him as he grew up, tried to take him back home.  It happened more than once and involved various subsets of the groups I mentioned above.

In our passage today, it merely states that they show up while Jesus is teaching and send word that he should quit and come out to them.  This time it is not as explicit as saying they think he has lost his mind.  However, they are clearly antagonistic to what Jesus is doing.  Why not wait until he is done?  Why interrupt him in front of a large crowd who want to hear what he is saying?  It is because they do not respect what he is doing.

Let’s look at the brothers of Jesus first.  It is worth noting that they are not full brothers because Jesus is not the offspring of Joseph and Mary as they are.  Yes, I am aware that some groups teach that Mary had no kids, but this flies in the face of the text and requires special pleading for the normal interpretation of these familial words.  In John 7:5 we are told that his brothers did not believe in him.  On top of this, none of the brothers of Jesus are mentioned among the disciples of Jesus until after the resurrection of Jesus.  So, it is no shocker that they arrive and were most likely also a part of the earlier group in verse 21.  They also think that Jesus has lost his mind and needs to settle down and be a good Israelite.

However, the mention of Mary in this group may be more puzzling.  By the way, the Gospel’s silence regarding Joseph throughout the ministry and execution of Jesus is usually taken to mean that he has passed away at some point.  This idea is further supported by the words of Jesus to his disciple John, telling her to take care of his mother as a son (i.e. in his place).  This would not be needed if Joseph were still alive.

So, Mary, who saw and heard the angel Gabriel, who said “Let it be to me according to your word,” this very same Mary is in the unbelieving group demanding Jesus to come out and speak to them.  Most likely, she has been convinced and persuaded by her younger sons, and the pressure of her family and neighbors.  Still, even Mary is lending her familial relationship to this cause of having an intervention with Jesus.  In the best of intentions, they believe that they are stepping in for the good of Jesus, but in the worst of motivations, they are most likely afraid of what people are saying, and most likely some jealously on his brother’s behalf, among many other emotions.  Flatly stated, even Mary struggled with what Jesus was doing.  I am not painting her out to be a complete unbeliever, but we see her struggling much the same way John the Baptist struggled as he pined away in prison.  Was I wrong about Jesus?  Did I misunderstand?

All that to say, these intervention groups in verses 21 and 31 come trying to do the righteous thing.  Yet, there is a sea of unrighteous things going on under the surface.  It is easy to cover impure motivations with a thin veneer of righteousness.  In fact, we see it everyday within our own society: at work, in politics, in business, in families, etc.

By the way, I should make a few parenthetical statements about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Over the centuries, an increasing devotion to Mary has led to all manner of unbiblical teachings about her.  Contrary to what some teach, we have no reason to believe that Mary was “immaculately conceived.”  This idea is that God kept her from being contaminated with the sin-nature during her birth.  This is so that she would not pass it on to Jesus.  Of course, this doesn’t make sense, since God could have done so to Jesus if it was needed. However, Mary herself declares that she has needed a Savior, i.e. had a sinful nature that needed saving, in the Magnificat of Luke 1.  There she states, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior!”  Of course, in our passage today, her faith is wavering and she is helping to be an obstacle to the ministry of Jesus.

Another thing that some teach about Mary is that she was a perpetual virgin.  The straight-forward teaching of Scripture is that she and Joseph came together sexually after the birth of Jesus.  She birthed at least 3 sons and 2 daughters, most likely more.  These all would have been at most ½ siblings to Jesus (Scripture gives no clue to the degree that God may or may not have used the genetic material of Mary’s ovum).

Lastly, it has become popular to teach and speak of Mary as the Co-Redemptrix of the world along with Jesus.  This is illogical because it confuses the clear biblical message that Jesus alone is the Redeemer of the world.  Yes, Mary plays a critical part in God’s plan of salvation, but it is Jesus alone who does the work of redeeming mankind.  Thus, Mary should be respected as a godly woman who was willing to do the will of God even though He asked her to do a difficult thing.  She should be honored, but not revered as a quasi-divine being.  In fact, we should recall the words of Simeon the prophet in Luke 2:34, who spoke to her in the temple.  “Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts  may be revealed.’”  This is exactly what we are seeing in our passage today.  Their hearts are being laid bare so that they can make a real decision and not one that is masked by a veneer of goodness.  No matter how critically we have been used by God in the past, we must work to remain open and sensitive to the Holy Spirit and what He is doing today.

Jesus defines his true family

This event gives an opportunity for Jesus to define what it really means to be in such a close relationship with him that he would consider you his brother or sister.  Jesus is apparently in a house of some kind and it is full of people listening to him teach.  At some point, word comes to him that his mother and brothers are outside and they want him to come out to them.

As I said earlier, they are not there to receive his teaching and learn.  They are not there on a mission from God.  They are there on their own terms and for their own purposes, which happen to be contrary to the will of God the Father.  Jesus is doing exactly what he knows the Father wants him to do.  This sets up a chance for Jesus to teach on what is important when it comes to family, from God’s perspective.

It doesn’t matter into what family you were biologically born.  It could be the most spiritual family on the planet, or it could be the most heathen family on the planet.  This is not what connect you to God, nor is it what keeps you from connecting from God.  Some very wicked people grew up in Christian homes, and some very godly people have come from homes that were wicked and often so dysfunctional that the term home should not be used.  Thus, this saw cuts both ways.  The spiritual state of my biological mom and dad does not guarantee me a ticket, nor does it disqualify me.

This means that something besides physical birth has to happen in order for me to become a child of God.  Kids raised up in Christian homes have to come to Christ for themselves, at some point.  Parents can often lose sight of this fact.  We can be so focused on making them outwardly conform that we forget that works without faith are dead.  The Scriptures say, “For by grace you have been saved, through faith; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” 

Jesus is not being insensitive to his family.  They are the ones being insensitive to the call of God on his life.  Jesus is not teaching us to blow off our biological family and do whatever we want.  Rather, he is challenging us to place the work of God in our life above the desires and purposes of our biological family.  The best-case scenario is to have our biological family pulling together with us for God’s purposes.  In this sense our biological family is also our spiritual family.  The reality is that this is easier said than done.  Thus, we must desire to be spiritually born into the family of Christ.  Jesus takes advantage of this situation to define for us what puts a person in his spiritual family.

Whoever does the will of the Father is a part of the family of Jesus.  What do I mean by that?  Jesus points to the crowds who are sitting around him listening to the words of God and declares that they are an example of spiritual family.  God wanted all of Israel to listen to Jesus, but many didn’t.  These ones who were there that day were there because they believed that Jesus was the Messiah, or at least a prophet sent from God and worthy of their devotion and attention.  His biological family is there that day for the wrong reasons.  They aren’t the devil, but neither are they supporting what God is doing through him.  Times like these require getting on your knees in prayer and asking God to sift your heart and help you to see any impure motives that might be in your heart.

When you think about it, it is relatively simple for the devil to convince good Israelites, and good Christians, to do his bidding, if they do not guard their hearts and remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  He just comes as an angel of light doing what is right, but his every word is a lie.  In fact, Jesus explains this clearly in John 6:28-29.

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Jesus is the One whom the Father has sent to the world.  It is not believing in the sense of intellectually believing that he exists, but rather believing that he really is the Son of God who was sent into the world to save us.  It is believing in the sense that we pick up our cross and follow him, first as a disciple or student, and second as one who has been sent to the world around them, to draw them to him.  Yet, true belief is not just an inner disposition.

True faith always makes an external difference.  It is the Father’s will that all people everywhere repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.  If we have true faith in Jesus then it will produce works of righteousness that come from the leading of the Holy Spirit, rather than a conformity to culture (religious or secular).  No matter how Christian the culture of America was in the past, no one was ever saved by conforming to the Christian culture.  In fact, even a Christian culture finds itself fighting against the will of God, just as the religious culture of Israel did in the days of Jesus.

Make sure that you are not just coasting along in a Christian Family or a Christian subculture, and yet not truly believing in Jesus as your savior and lord. On the other hand, make sure that you are not remaining in sin and pushing Jesus away because the people around you won’t understand, or you are afraid of how they will react.  The Holy Spirit is working every day to convict people of their sin and the judgment that looms over them.  Yet, He also convicts them of the righteousness of Jesus that can save them from that sin and judgment.  He is really all that we need.  If everyone forsakes you and ridicules you; if the comfortable Christians around you think that you have lost your mind and need an intervention; regardless of all these things, look to Jesus and the Word of God, and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in the will of God.  It is His will that you be a part of His family today!

Family of Jesus audio