Summary: Proper 5 (b) Born again of the spirit, we are born anew by the blood of Christ, and so members of the family of God, and of His house and kingdom forever.

Mark 3:20-35

J. J.

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,

O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

“A family affair”

In the Gospel today we see two scenes. First, a little background from the verses before our reading. Jesus had been healing people and casting out demons from them around the sea of Galilee. A large crowd had gathered and was following him. He got away from the crowd by taking boat, and then he went up a mountain to pray. He has finished his time of comtemplation on the mountain, and come down. Now our reading starts. And he goes home, to Capernaum.

The crowd shows up again, and because of this Jesus and his disciples are unable to eat. Exactly how they interfered with dinner we do not know. Is it because they insisted to come in and see and talk to him? Is it because the house had open windows and they were too loud? Maybe it is that because of them filling the streets outside, there was no room to cook out of doors? Is it because it would be a great social affront to eat in front of them and not have food to offer? We just don’t know, but it was not just a crowd, but a great crowd. And it does not take too much imagination to understand how all of those people could get underfoot as it were, and prevent the meal.

Now, because of Jesus casting out the demons, two groups of people come to confront him. First, news of his activities had traveled back Nazareth. And his family from Nazareth was coming to get him, for they thought he had gone out of his mind.

The other group of people were the scribes of Jerusalem. We know that they were here in Capernaum from Jerusalem. We don’t know exactly when they came. Since it quite a distance form Capernaum to Jerusalem, 120 miles, they didn’t just come when Jesus came down the Mountain. They likely had heard about His demonic exorcisms before He went up the mountain, and had traveled up here. In any event, they are learned religious people.

The scribes don’t try to say that the miracles and exorcisms Jesus performed did not happen, like people say today. No, the scribes knew that the crowd had seen these healings and deliverances. So they say Jesus himself is possessed by a demon, and that it is by the power of the Arch-enemy that he is casting out the demons.

Mary and Jesus brothers arrive on the scene. Notably, they do not make their way into the house where Jesus was. Some of the crowd was sitting around him in the house. They stay outside, and they send in a messenger to say, “Your Mom and your family is here, come out because they want to talk to you.”

What does Jesus do? Does He go out to his mother and his brothers? No. And they are expecting him. One might not go out because your brother asked, but his mother was there. This was his family, and family was everything. Not just a lot. Not just first, as in “My family comes first.” No, family was everything. That is the reason they are there. They are afraid that he is causing them embarrassment with these exorcisms, it will be for the family name. Why are they staying outside? The text does not say, but we can think of several reasons. First, Capernaum was the station of roman soldiers and roman tax collectors, like Matthew. It was not a strictly Jewish town. So it could be that his family does not want to go into what might have been a gentile house, or maybe there were gentiles in the house. Second, the scribes are calling him a demon possessed man, and maybe they don’t want to have any open connection to Jesus. Third, and quite likely, they had come to get him and take him back to Nazareth. They don’t want to go into the house, and ask him to leave, and make any kind of a scene in front of people. No, ask him to come out here to us, and we can talk, and if necessary hash it out out here. In relative privacy. This is a family affair.

Since Jesus does not go outside, what does he do? He says, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Did he have amnesia? Did he not know who they were? No. He is making a statement of who is in His family.

These were his flesh and body family. And in the Jewish religion, it was blood that mattered. You were Jewish, and within the covenant family of God because you were born of Jewish blood. Jesus however, is changing things. Remember from two weeks ago on Pentecost, how the Spirit came down and they heard the apostles speaking in their own languages? Remember how Pentecost was a remembrance of God making the Jews to be His people, and now, that day, on Pentecost, a new thing was happening, God was making a new people for Himself of every tribe and nation and tongue? Jesus is doing the same new thing here. Those who are connected to him are not those born in the flesh as His family. Notice carefully what Jesus does not say. He does not disown his mother and his brothers. He does not say, “They are not my family.” Rather, looking at the crowd sitting around him, he says, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” He does not throw his family out, but instead he brings the crowd in. And who of the crowd? The ones sitting around him, sitting at his feet, listening to him, and believing in Him, just as you are doing right now church.

Here we see a connection with what we heard last week, when Jesus was telling Nicodemus that one must be born again. What did He say, “that which is born of flesh is flesh, that which is born of spirit is spirit.” In the kingdom of God, who will be the family of God? Not those born of Jewish blood, but those born of Jesus’ blood. Those who are born again.

What does that mean for us? That we - you and me – are members of God’s family for we are born of the spirit. We are his mother and brothers and sisters for we do the will of His Father. And what is that will, “to believe on Jesus, the one whom the Father has sent”

Jesus’ flesh and blood brothers and mother could be His brothers and mother, but not by their physical relationship. Only by the spirit, by faith. We are not in Jesus’ family because we are born to Lutheran parents or grandparents, or because our family has always been members of this church.

Church is a family affair but not a family by lineage. Church is a family affair and it means that we – you, me, all of us, are brothers and sisters. Church is not my individual relationship to God and that’s it. Oh yes, each one must believe for him or herself. But we are all, together, His family. The person in the other pew is not just a member of this church. He or she is my brother or sister, your brother or sister. Because Christ has said so.

So that means that we seek to live together was a family, because we are. Shall we always do it perfectly? I know that I haven’t and I won’t. Maybe you’ll have a better go at it. But having a better go isn’t the solution.

We have unity in Christ because Christ has declared that we have. Now, having been made His family, we trust in Him. We do the will of His father. How? By believing in Christ, and living in His love. His love is perfect even though we aren’t. So together, we abide in His love as His family. Serving Him and serving others, until He comes again. For Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ shall come again.


S. D. G.