A New Kind of Family
Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
One of the striking and, frankly, sad aspects of Mark’s Gospel is the description of Jesus’ relationship with his natural family. Mark does not give us any account of Jesus’ birth. The first mention of his family comes in Mark 3:21: “When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away, ‘He’s out of his mind,’ they said.” The people who had been closest to Jesus did not understand what he was doing and why. Knowing that he was endangering his life through his ministry, they wanted to get him back to their village before it was too late.
A little while later, Jesus’ mother and brothers came to visit him, no doubt to try and dissuade him from continuing his scandalous work. While they waited outside of a home for Jesus, somebody reported their presence and desire to speak with him. Jesus’ response was, no doubt, surprising to all: “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” (3:33). Then he added, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (3:34-35).
In a culture that prized family above just about everything, these words must have been shocking. Not only did Jesus fail to honor his family in the expected way, but also he spoke of family in radically new terms. True “family” is not a matter of blood relationship, but of kinship in obedience to God. This kinship begins by God’s grace in Christ, when he adopts us into his family (see Romans 8:15-23).
This statement of Jesus challenges me to look afresh at my own life: Am I living as a brother of Jesus? Am I doing the will of God ... really? Am I living out my true identity as a child in the family of God? Am I so focused on my natural family that I neglect the needs of my Christian family? Am I living as a brother in the family of God?
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: So, what about you? Are you seeking to do God’s will in your life? How are your relationships with your brothers and sisters in the family of God?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, how blessed I am to be part of your family! Thank you for adopting me as your child! Thank you for the incredible privilege of calling you “Father”!
Help me, gracious God, to live as a member of your family. May I faithfully obey your will, seeking always to honor you as my Father. May I embrace my sisters and brothers in your family, caring for them and sharing life with them. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.