Our Life Together Series: An Intimate Household (Mark 3:35)

12 Apr

“Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus not only called men into a personal relationship with himself, he called them into a fellowship with each other. There is a tendency today to employ terms from secular experiences to describe the fellowship of Christians.

Sometimes the athletic metaphor is used, and the church becomes a “team” intent on victory. From the business world comes the idea of the church as a business or a corporation, and its leaders take on the function of corporate board members. These terms have a limited usefulness but do not convey the depth and quality of the fellowship which Jesus intended.

Our Lord’s friends were sure that Jesus was confused, and possibly deranged! The great crowds they saw following Him, and the amazing reports they heard about Him, convinced them that He desperately needed help. He simply was not living a normal life, so His friends came to Capernaum to “take charge of Him.”

Then his mother and “brethren” (Mark 6:3) traveled thirty miles from Nazareth to plead with Him to come home and get some rest, but even they were unable to get near Him. This is the only place in the Gospel of Mark where Mary is seen, and her venture was a failure.

History reveals that God’s servants are usually misjudged by their contemporaries, and often misunderstood by their families. The great Apostle Paul was called mad (Acts 26:24-25).

Our Lord was not being rude to His family when He remained in the house and did not try to see them. He knew that their motives were right but their purpose was definitely wrong. If Jesus had yielded to His family, He would have played right into the hands of the opposition. The religious leaders would have said, “See, He agreed with His family—He needs help! Don’t take Jesus of Nazareth too seriously.”

Instead of giving in, He used this crisis as an opportunity to teach a spiritual lesson: His “family” is made up of all those who do the will of God. Our Lord’s half brothers were not believers  (John 7:1-5)  “After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. {2} But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, {3} Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. {4} No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” {5} For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”

Jesus felt closer to the believing publicans and sinners than He did to James, Joses, Judah, and Simon, His half-brothers. Our Lord was not suggesting that believers ignore or abandon their families in order to serve God, but only that they put God’s will above everything else in life. Our love for God should be so great that our love for family would seem like hatred (“love less”) in comparison (Luke 14:26)  “”If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.”).

Certainly it is God’s will that we care for our families and provide for them (1 Timothy 5:8)  “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”), but we must not permit even our dearest loved ones to influence us away from the will of God. When you consider the importance of the family in the Jewish society, you can imagine how radical Christ’s words must have sounded to those who heard them.

The church is God’s household : (1 Timothy 3:15)  “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

Christ was their older brother, spiritually: (Hebrews 2:11)  “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”

They formed a brotherhood: (1 Peter 2:17)  “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” If the church loses this intimate sense of family life, it becomes an anonymous crowd of worshippers. It also loses an essential element of power which originally gave many people their security in an uncertain world.

In keeping with Jesus’ imagery of the family, the term which Jesus uses for individual believers is “brother.” At times the word can be used in a general sense to refer to the needy and the helpless, as in the story of the last judgment of Matthew 25.

Because the church is a family composed of brothers and sisters, there should be the unity that can overcome any kind of tension. However, even in the best of families there are times of tension. Discord is always the possibility where brothers and sisters live in close proximity to each other. Family unity does not just happen!  The point is that each of us stands in the identical place of this unmerciful servant: halfway between God and our brother. We’re between the forgiveness that is granted us and the forgiveness that is asked of us. There should be in the Christian community a capacity for forgiveness that is not found in other institutions, for the Christian is motivated by the forgiveness he has received.

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Posted by on April 12, 2018 in Our Life Together


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