New Testament in 6 months – day 27

27 Apr

Mark 3:20-4:20
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.” Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.” Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding;otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop–thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”

This bit about Jesus asking who His family was and then saying it was anyone doing God’s will has always bothered me. After all, Exodus 20:12 would suggest that He shouldn’t say so,etching like that as it is dishonouring to claim your mother is not your mother. However, as I now read the wider context given in 3:21, we see that Jesus’ family, which would have included His mother, came “to take charge of him” because He and the disciples were unable to get any food. Basically, they decided that they knew best and they were going to do what it took to sort Jesus out so that He took better care of Himself. They even said that Jesus was “out of His mind”, seemingly to both enable them to rush through to Him and also perhaps make the crowd think better of listening to Jesus teach and instead disperse.
But this went against the whole point of Jesus being there. He had intentionally come into town and gone to that house. He was there teaching the people that crowded around because that was what He was there for. And without even asking what was going on His well-meaning but ill-informed family decide that this has to stop.
So when Jesus says “Who are my mother and my brothers?” it is meant, I believe, as a very clear rebuke to them for seeking to interfere in the mission of God. And when He says “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” Jesus is saying that this is how He wants His family to be. Not worrying about Him as He goes about His ministry, but seeking to see His ministry happen because this is God’s will.

We never hear any stories of Mary wondering whether her son was the son of God beyond the miracle of His birth, or what His ministry was about. But in those 6 verses I believe we see the one time that they faltered and Jesus puts them right on the matter.
And the same should be true for us. We should be seeking to find God’s will for ourselves and those around us. And when we see someone being used by God we should be seeking to do all we can to support them in it and trusting in God, and not let the part inside of us, that might be longing to offer comment or criticism, take over. We must learn the lesson that Mary learned that day, that God’s mission for the world comes first in all things.


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Archbishop Cranmer

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