Summary: Jesus asked a perplexing question that continues to cause confusion and uncertainty - who is my family? His focus was not to appease His brothers, but to please His Father. Our relationship with Christ, and devotion to Him, must exceed all else.
Being in the Family
Mark 3: 31-35
Our text today reveals an encounter that was difficult for many to accept. Very likely the intentions of our Lord were misunderstood and misrepresented. Even today, as we consider these verses, this passage remains difficult for many to comprehend and accept.
As with any passage of Scripture we examine, context is always key. We must always consider a passage within its context if we are to properly discern its true meaning. Bear in mind the setting for these verses. Jesus has faced continual opposition from the scribes and Pharisees. They were determined to follow Him everywhere He went, seeking any means of accusation through which they could justify their condemnation. We also discovered a few weeks ago that this skepticism was not isolated among the Pharisees alone. Unfortunately, even His family and friends, His kinsman, were skeptical of Jesus, V.21.
I would like to take a moment to describe the setting for the passage before we get into the great lessons Jesus taught on this occasion. The Lord had been accused of working through the power of Satan by the Pharisees, immediately following an attempt by His family to bring Him home. It is apparent that His family believed Jesus had lost His mind and needed to come home to avoid further embarrassment. Following these unsettling encounters, we find Jesus continuing to teach the people. I can imagine some who were eager to learn of Him seated as close to the Lord as they possibly could. Likely a bit further back are some who are somewhat skeptical, but yet curious about this man. No doubt the Pharisees are there, looming in background, always close enough to hear what Jesus says. No doubt the crowd was rather large, and Jesus is surrounded by a multitude of people. Somewhere on the fringes of the crowd, the family of Jesus had come, apparently in a further attempt to convince Him to come home. It is important to keep all this in mind as we move through these challenging verses.
Let’s take a few moments to discuss the lessons revealed in the text as we consider the thought: Being in the Family.
I. The Request of the Family (31-32) – As the scene opens, we find the family of Jesus offering a request. Consider:
A. The Communication (31) – There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. As Jesus taught the crowd that day, His family had gathered somewhere near the back of the multitude. They were standing without. It is possible they stood close enough to hear His voice, but maybe were unable to see Jesus. I can imagine Jesus seeing someone near the back of the crowd leaning back, listening to someone behind them whispering in their ear. After a brief moment, that person taps someone on the shoulder seated in front of him and shares what he had just heard. Slowly the message makes its way to the front of the gathering. The family of Jesus, His brothers and His mother, were standing on the fringe of the crowd, calling for Jesus to come unto them.
B. The Expectation (32) – And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. As the message made its way to the front of the crowd, the people began to tell Jesus that His mother and brothers were waiting beyond the crowd, seeking for Jesus to come unto them.
So far we have discussed nothing that is difficult to understand or embrace. As Jesus taught the people, His family came desiring to see Him. Their request was made known to Jesus in a public manner as He was teaching. As the people conveyed the message, they fully expected Jesus to stop what He was doing, and immediately go to His family. Those present that day would have understood the need. Family was considered to be the most important aspect within society. They fully expected the Lord to abandon whatever He was currently engaged in if a need arose within the family.
While this is not the focus of the passage, I do want to make a quick application. Our modern culture could learn a valuable lesson from the ancient Jews regarding commitment and devotion to family. We have developed a selfish atmosphere in America, where few are willing to sacrifice for the needs of the family. Mothers and fathers are often too quick to abandon their own children in pursuit of personal pleasures. Often parents are loved and visited as long as they have the ability to prepare meals of share their wealth, but when situations hinder the benefits, far too often they find themselves alone. We must appreciate and support our families!