Who are my brothers?

August 29, 2014

Dear brothers and sisters,

The good news this morning comes from Mark 3:31-35.

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

It’s interesting that Jesus is inside and his family members are outside. He has embarked upon a new life proclaiming and being the good news of God’s kingdom. He abandoned his former life and with it the cultural expectations that he would place his family loyalties above all else. Now he is in his Father’s house and his family have not yet joined him. At this point they believe that he is out of his mind. They have lost direct access to him unlike those followers who are seated around him in a circle eager to hear and absorb his message. His family continues to call him, call him back to the life he left and the one they still inhabit. He has let go and surrendered himself totally to God; they have not.

Moloney writes, “The true family of Jesus must recognize in his word and person the revelation of the will of God to establish the kingdom of God.” To be a member of Jesus’ family he tells me that I must do the will of God. A few years back it was common to see people, particularly youth, wearing rubber bracelets printed with “WWJD?” — What Would Jesus Do? Unfortunately, for many it was tied to moralistic judgment, not Jesus’ message of love, forgiveness, and compassion. That is what it means to do God’s will according to Jesus. Jesus’ anger and dire warnings were directly largely at the religious authorities who were righteous, who believed they were superior to others they deemed unworthy of God’s kingdom. That’s why Jesus called for repentance, to remove the plank from our own eyes. He didn’t show anger toward sinners,because he knew that we are all sinners and the best way to help someone overcome sin, separation from God, is through love and forgiveness not condemnation. As Barclay states, “Christians have the common experience of being forgiven sinners.” No one earns their worthiness; it is all God’s unmerited grace. Until we accept that and act in a way that it requires, we are unrepentant; we remain outside with Jesus’ blood family, outside of his circle of followers because we are failing to do God’s will. We have not surrendered to Him as Jesus did.



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