If we were to take the time to tell stories from when we grew up, I am sure that there would be a number of entertaining stories. Having grown up with a brother and three sisters, there are many stories that I could tell. And I am sure that you could tell some about your own family as well. Later in life, we left our parents and began our own family. There are also many stories that could be told there. And those stories bring a smile to our faces as we remember them.
Have you ever thought what it must have been like when Jesus was growing up. What was His family life like? What was Joseph like? What was Mary like? What were His brothers and sisters like? We already know that Joseph and Mary were poor at the time of Jesus’ birth because they offered birds instead of bigger sacrifices when He was circumcised. But they were rich for a moment as the gifts of the magi provided money for them to move to Egypt to escape murderous Herod. After they moved back, the only mention of Jesus’ childhood was when He was twelve and got left behind in Jerusalem. Beyond that, we know very little about his childhood or family.
Do you think family was important to Jesus? I’m sure it was. But when we read through our passage for tonight, we will see that He had another family that was even more important.
- Jesus reveals his real family (Mark 3:20-21; 3:31-35).
What it says
After Jesus had chosen the twelve disciples, they returned to the house that served as their headquarters. It didn’t take long for a multitude to gather and this kept them from even eating a meal. His own people (probably His family) heard about the crowd and decided to step in and help Him. They wanted to take Him away because they thought Jesus was out of His mind. Apparently, they still didn’t understand who He was and what His purpose was.
Jesus’ family finally arrived. His mother and brothers stood outside and called for Him. “The size and density of the crowd made immediate access to Jesus impossible.”1 The multitude of people heard their request and told Jesus that His family was outside. But Jesus took that moment to teach them something. He asked who His mother and brothers were. After looking around at the people in the room, He said that the people around Him were His family (mother and brothers) because they were doing God’s will.
What it means
Jesus showed that following the Lord may conflict with family life.
Did you notice that some of His family thought He was out of His mind? They wanted to put their hands on Him and forcefully remove Him to a safer place. If it weren’t for the crowds between them and Him, they would have accomplish their desire. This shows us that His family’s desire and God’s desire were in conflict.
Their goal was to live a normal, non-fanatical life. Their goal was to get Him away from the crowds so that He could be a normal person again. Their goal was to live a quiet and peaceful life with their family’s reputation intact. They didn’t want to be known as the family of an odd, crowd-gathering, religious fanatic. They just wanted Jesus to settle down and be normal. Their purpose for Jesus was for Him to be like any other person who lived at the time.
But God’s purpose for Jesus was much different. God had sent His Son to preach repentance and faith to the people, to care for them by healing and casting out demons, and to prepare the next generation of disciples for reaching the world with the gospel. This purpose didn’t fit with what His family wanted. It involved working with great crowds of people who needed His help. It involved preaching a message of repentance that made people uncomfortable. It involved an antagonistic relationship with the current religious leaders and this was difficult for Jesus’ family. And it would eventually involve his own suffering and death on the cross. But Jesus wasn’t concerned about what His family thought because He was accomplishing the purpose God had sent Him to do.
Jesus revealed that those who do God’s will are his closest family.
When we were young, it was our family members whom we knew best. We shared the most in common with them. We had the same way of speaking, thinking, and living. But when each of us became a Christian, we became part of a different family that can be even closer than our blood family.
When the people told Jesus that His mother and siblings were outside calling for Him, He did something that at first may seem a bit harsh. Instead of responding to His family members’ concerns, He pointed to the people around Him and said that His mother and brothers were those who did God’s will. In effect, He was denying His family and choosing to associate with His spiritual family instead of the other.
What is this family that Jesus was talking about? Well, if you turn to John 3, you will be reminded that Jesus talked about the new birth with Nicodemus. He told him that he needed to be born again. This was another way of saying that Nicodemus needed to be born of God and become one of God’s sons. This could only take place when God caused him to be born again spiritually.
John 3:6 – “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
We all come from a physical family (born of the flesh) but we all need to be born again (born of the Spirit). The difference is physical birth versus spiritual birth. Our physical family may pass along many interesting qualities. But when we are born again by God’s Spirit, we become part of a different family of people who have become the sons and daughters of God.
One of the marks of being part of this family is mentioned in Mark 13:35. Those who are part of God’s family are noted for doing the will of God. This family includes Jesus, Peter, James and John, Paul, Timothy, William Carey, John Paton, Pastor Fitzsimmons, Pastor Bailey, Pastor Gallion, and each of us who has been born again and is actively doing the will of God.
How it applies
Are you willing to put God before your family?
When Jesus dismissed the desires of His family, this may have been taken poorly by them. This was His own physical family which included His mother and siblings. How could He set aside their desire to help Him and do something else? Well, I can see your concern for having a good relationship with your family. And we aren’t commanded to ignore our family or be rude to them. But there may come a time when you have to choose between them and following the Lord.
I think that this is similar to what the disciples faced when the religious leaders were telling them to stop speaking about Jesus. Normally, it is right to obey those in authority over us. But when their demands conflict with what God had said to do, the right response is what Peter told them.
Acts 4:18-20 – “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.'”
For most of us, family is very important. We love our parents, siblings, children, and other relatives. But this love for family must never keep us from obeying the Lord. If it does, then a choice must be made. Despite their protests or arguments to the contrary, we must choose to obey God rather than them. This may not be easy or comfortable, but it is the right things to do.
Are you doing the will of God?
The next thing to think about is whether we qualify for being a part of God’s family. I am not talking about the new birth at this point, but am talking about doing God’s will. Jesus described his spiritual family as being made up of those who are doing God’s will. Are you currently doing God’s will?
Coming to church and being part of the services are part of that but are not all of God’s will. Being someone who does God’s will must incorporate all aspects of our lives. Doing God’s will must include our lives at church and our lives at home. Our lives at work and our lives at play. Are you doing God’s will?
What is God’s will? How do we know if we are doing it? Well, that may take some time to discover by studying the Bible. But let’s consider several things. Are you eagerly seeking God’s will for your life by reading the Bible and praying on a regular basis? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your life and make you more like Christ each day? Are you forsaking sin and seeking to live a life that is holy for the Lord? Are you using your days to glorify God by your actions and speech? Are you telling other about Jesus? Are you trying to help others? Are you being kind to others?
Those who are in the family of Jesus are those born-again believers who are actively doing the will of God. Are you one of them?
Over the years, I have been happily surprised to find brothers and sisters across the world who are actively doing God’s will. When we meet, there is a common bond as we recognize a similar heart for the Lord. We may not see eye-to-eye on every issue, but it is very clear that we are both seeking the Lord and wanting to do His will. Ands that desire to do God’s will binds me together with them.
Some of you may come from a family where very few are Christians. This can be very sad as you want each of them to know the Lord. But when God saved you, He graciously gave you a new family made up of those who are seeking to do His will. Find your comfort from fellowshipping with this family. Allow these relationships to grow and spend time with those who are going in the same direction. It is a blessing from God. And if you think about it, there will come a day when each of us will be with the Lord forever and guess who will also be there? Yes, our spiritual family made up of those who have been born-again and who did the will of God.
1 Hiebert 103.
Grassmick, John D., “Mark” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983.
Hendriksen, William, Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975.
Hiebert, D. Edmond, The Gospel of Mark, Greenville: Bob Jones University Press, 1994.
Ironside, H. A., Mark, Neptune: Loizeaux, 1948.
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. IV, Matthew through Romans, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983.