And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. When His family heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”…Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.” Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
– Mark 3.20-22, 30-35
Christians often learn verses in a vacuum. I often learn verses in a vacuum. The habit of memorizing the promises of Scripture and “fighter verses” is a healthy discipline that will help us all through the difficult times in life, when we need to preach the Truth to ourselves. One verse and truth that we claim and to which we hold strongly is that when we come to faith we become a part of the family of God. We become children of God (John 1.12), we are co-heirs with Christ in eternity (Rom 8.17, Heb 6.17), we are the the body of Christ (Rom 12), and we are the brothers and sisters of Christ (Mark 6.35).
But as I was meditating on the entirety of the passage this week, it vividly caught my attention that Jesus was living out his Earthly ministry and He tried to minister in His hometown but was prevented from working miracles and teaching broadly because the people doubted Him. They had no faith. They had known Him His entire life.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.”
– Mark 6.4
When Jesus first went to His hometown, a great crowd gathered. And His family’s response was, “He has lost His mind” (Mark 3.21). The Scribes and Pharisees were doubting Him and blaspheming Him saying that His power was of Satan, but His family was so blinded about His nature and purpose on Earth that they thought He had lost His senses and they set out to “take custody of Him”. The Greek term used here is krateō, to have power over, take possession of, or to restrain. Jesus’ family intended to take Him home and shut Him up. His mother and His brothers.
Until I read this passage, just this week, I had always wondered how it was not disrespectful for Jesus to not acknowledge His own mother and brother when they sought for Him. I thought that He was purposefully including the listeners and exemplifying the New Covenant before the disciples to teach them the deep truth of the community established through the forgiveness and atonement of His work on the cross.
And He was doing that.
But He was also aware of the thoughts and intentions of His family. And He was making it clear to them that He was going to live out His God-given ministry and they could not stop Him any more than the Scribes and Pharisees who were already plotting against Him and trying to entrap Him with questions and tricks. His family was exemplifying the fact that they were not acting as His Spiritual and true family in their intentions. So when they showed up, He did not give then a response of honor and He did not offer them an opportunity to stand in the way of His work. He proclaimed that only those who do the will of the Father are His family.
God created everything and everyone who is on the Earth. We are all God’s creation. But only those who are born again, who have faith in Jesus Christ, who have repented of their sins and come to Him for forgiveness are children of God:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
– John 1.12-13
Are you doing the will of God? Only those who do are His children. Have you been born of God? Do you have Spiritual life? If not, ask Him now. He will give you life. He will call you His own, and He will empower you to do His will. What is the will of God? Your sanctification (1 Thess 4.3). Your love for Him. Your obedience. Your best, through honoring and glorifying Him.