Shaking the Family Tree: Jesus’ true family does the will of God

Mark 3:7-35 is one of those passages that you rarely hear a sermon on. In previous chapters, Mark records identifiable episodes with clear parameters. In what follows in Chapter 4, Mark records significant portions of Jesus teaching, mostly in the form of parables.

Here, Mark gives us the proverbial goulash.

What theme could connect reports of crowds so great they threatened to crush Jesus; continued exorcisms; the calling of disciples and the naming of the twelve apostles; family trying to commit Jesus; religious leaders’ accusations of demon-possession; and Jesus’ proclamation that his true relatives are those who do the will of God?

There must be some reason that God inspired Mark — through the Holy Spirit — to record these events as he did.

Mark 3:7 begins with reports of the greatest crowd yet swarming to Jesus on reports of his great deeds. Mark 3:32-35 ends with a description of those “who were sitting around” Jesus, identified by Jesus himself as true family.

What is clear is that Mark summarizes in this passage that exposure to Jesus did not automatically result in discipleship. The crowd saw Jesus perform great deeds repeatedly, his family saw these things, the religious leaders saw these things; yet only a few at this time, seated at Jesus’ feet, become true family.

The difference is not greater perception, more intelligence, a better heart; those who came to Jesus were those whom he called to himself (Mark 3:13-14).

And those who sat at Jesus’ feet did so despite the presence of throngs of people who apparently wanted nothing more than a good show, who wanted to rub the magic lamp and see a genie, who thought nothing of disrupting even Jesus’ eating habits to get what they wanted.

Those who sat at Jesus’ feet did so despite his own family accusing him of madness and seeking to whisk him away to parts unknown, presumably to putter around with the other embarassing relatives.

Those who sat at Jesus’ feet did so despite the accusation of religious authorities that Jesus was not just mad, but possessed by the devil.

Jesus binds the strong man, plundering men from Satan’s family to become members of his own.

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