We want to do good and be compassionate, loving God and loving our neighbours as we love ourself right? But, you and I know that it is not that easy. It very hard, because the temptation is always to put ourselves first. And then, often, justify it. We put ourselves first and then we tell ourselves that we “deserved it”. And when we are not first, we can find ourselves feeling, deep down, cheated and jealous. It is almost like our very human nature makes it extremely hard to put God first, and to put others on the same level as us.
That is just the kind of temptation the Scribes sent from Jerusalem in Mark’s Gospel chapter 3, verses 20 to 35 are facing. They are leaders of the people, who job is to teach God’s law to the people so that they will be in right relationship with God and others, and yet, here they are in the gospel passage today, using the most dirty trick of trying to discredit all the amazing and wonderful things that Jesus has been doing as being done with power granted Jesus by the source of all evil. They are scared for their livelihood and all the order they bring to society, because Jesus, who is acting with power, is not one of them. He is, to them, a lowly born nobody, without any current family connections to the religious authorities and powers, he is an outsider. Because of their fear and prejudice, they want only to push him out further and discredit him in the eyes of those he has begun to convince. They can not accept the possibility that God is a work through him.
“Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother”
In the face of their efforts to discredit him and push him away from the people, this is where Jesus actions and statements about a “new” family fit in the picture. You see, when Jesus says, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” in verse 35, he makes it clear that even blood relationships, which dominated his society religiously, socially, and economically, don’t matter as much as following God’s will. Just as God’s claims Jesus as his Son at Jesus baptism (Mark 1:11), so any person can be a brother or sister in Jesus’ divine family.
I think that when we hear this passage and how Jesus’ family tries to restrain him and how Jesus turns them away, it can cause us to get too caught up in the family drama. Yes, all of our earthly families have had family feuds. If we get caught up in thinking how hard Jesus was on his mother and brothers by ignoring them, then we miss the most important part of this passage and a foundational teaching of Jesus. That teaching is that through Christ we all become brothers and sisters in Christ, and co-heirs with him to receive the kingdom. We, who do God’s will, are never outsiders. Our membership in the Christian Family makes us equal and gives us each full stature to be loved and a responsibility to love.