Mark 3 v.20-end by Kathryn Ball

20. Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
22. And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23. And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24. If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. 28. “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29. but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30. for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

31. And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33. And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34. And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35. For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”


This passage splits into two sections, the first v. 20, 21 and 31 – 35, the second v.22-30.

The first deals with Jesus’ family – twice they try and protect him, to bring him home, to look after him – they think ‘he is out of his mind!’ (v.21). And why should they not? After all, he is their brother, he is Mary’s son, and he appears to be doing rather crazy things in their eyes (think back over the Jesus in Mark so far). But they are forgetting one crucial point – beyond these earthly relations Jesus belongs to God. He is God’s son. He was given to this earth as a sacrifice – a brief look at his earlier life reveals the extraordinary person Jesus was. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, worshipped by Wise men from the East, teaching and questioning the Pharisee’s in the temple at the age of 12, performing miracles, healing people, casting out demons – he was no ordinary person! This was the son of God.

I think this was the reason for v.33, in which he appears to disown those who brought him up, who loved and nurtured his early life. He reminds his family, and in doing so, reminds us, that whilst he may be in this world, he is most certainly not of it. Looking beyond what we would conceive as his earthly family, looking past tangible relations, Jesus sees a spiritual family, one that surpasses natural relations, to one that unites all who follow him – ‘for whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother’. (v.35)

Throughout the bible we are reminded of the great truth of God’s family, how all who follow him are adopted into his parenthood – God becomes their father, and fellow Christians around the world become our brothers and sisters!

As well as this affirming truth, this section poses some challenges for us. Firstly, Jesus wasn’t afraid to be different. He was radical – to the point even his family thought he was mad. The Christian life calls us to be different; it calls us to be, like Jesus, in the world, but not of it. Are we prepared to accept that? To go against the grain, even, perhaps to a point in which our family might find us mad? It also challenges us to remember that Jesus was God’s son. In our Christian lives, too often we can limit ourselves to thinking down, to thinking as the world would think, to limit our view. Jesus’ family did, and subsequently they couldn’t see what Jesus saw. We are challenged to look up, to see beyond earthly things, to think, to see, to live with a heavenly viewpoint, an eternal viewpoint. How our perspectives, our desires our ambitions might change with such a view…
The second section, deals with similar issues – Jesus as the son of God, and able to command the spiritual world, a forcible reminder that a spiritual war is raging, God against Satan, but that ultimately God will triumph. However this passage is also a striking call to unity. As it is a powerful illustration of Jesus’ unity with his father (v.23, how could Jesus work against or without God?), it also challenges our unity, on a personal level with Christ. Using the parable of divided Kingdoms, Jesus highlights how we cannot fight the battle against Satan, and thus sin and temptation alone, we need help! Personally, if we are not right with God, if we have unconfessed sin, if we are trying to ignore him, we cannot expect to beat temptation – we are divided from the one who gave us life. What a challenge, but what a delight it would be to live daily in harmony with the one who created us, the one who saved us, and the one who helps us here on earth.

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