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.” (Mark 3:32-35)
Families are defined in various ways.
We are all a part of the human family, sharing Adam and Eve’s DNA and exhibiting common traits that cannot be ignored. This connection helps us understand the victories, struggles and disappointments of others, regardless of who they are, or where they live.
We are a part of a work family. Companies often nurture a culture of family where people strive for the common good of the organization, and care for one another as brothers and sisters.
We are a part of nuclear family. We have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and a host of other relatives who make up our family tree.
And finally, we are invited to be a part of a spiritual family. This is the kind of family Jesus describes in our passage this morning.
Earlier in our study we found Jesus’ nuclear family in distress because they thought He had lost His mind (3:21). They felt it was their responsibility to “take charge” of Him, which is probably why we find them here, “outside looking” for Jesus.
When Jesus heard His family had come looking for Him, He defined a new kind of family. It was a spiritual family specifically composed of those who do the will of God.
It occurs to me, these words of Jesus differ from our culture’s take on spirituality. Some say the human family is linked spiritually by its common nature. In other words, we are spiritual beings, and therefore, our hunger and thirst for spiritual things makes us one.
But this isn’t how Jesus defines a spiritual family. Jesus says we are connected by our obedience to the will of God. Being spiritual does not necessarily make one a part of Jesus’ family. Rather, our relationship is based on our willingness to do what God asks.
Consider the implications inherent in this kind of spirituality. It reminds us spirituality is not just about making a connection with God, but also about serving others. It teaches us a spiritual life is not an exercise in self-absorption, but rather a call to crucify self.
I think Jesus’ family meant well. They were still trying to understand the nature of the kingdom He came to establish, and His interactions with the religious elite of the day were certainly risky. It was thoughtful to suggest a break from His ministry to help Him clear His head and gain some perspective. Unfortunately, that was not His Father’s will, and Jesus was determined to be obedient in all things.
Other people who care about us can help us put life back in perspective, and it is important to realize Jesus didn’t write Mary and His siblings out of His life. But ultimately, we all need to seek God’s will. And if we have the support of those who know us best, that is all the better.
Dear God, help me put Your will above everything. In Jesus’ name, Amen.