Sermon for Sunday June 10th, 2018, the Second Sunday after Trinity

 

The Lessons: Psalm 130; Genesis 3: 8-15; 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1; St. Mark 3:20-35

The Text: St. Mark 3:20-35

The Topic: True kinship to the Lord Jesus Christ

INTRODUCTION

“He is beside himself; he is out of his mind,” the Lord Jesus Christ’s family (translated “friends” in the KJV) concluded when they heard that the crowds were thronging around him, so that he and his disciples had no time even to take a meal. The Lord’s mother and brothers set out to take him to their own home and reason with him, perhaps in the hope of persuading him to return to Nazareth and lead a quiet, normal life as a carpenter, apart from all these crowds of people.

If his family thought Jesus was out of his mind, the prestigious scribes who had come down from Jerusalem to hear this new rabbi for themselves, boldly went many steps further, claiming that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, prince of the demons. This amounted to saying that Jesus himself was possessed by Satan and was driving out demons by Satan’s power. But if that were so, Jesus explains, Satan’s kingdom would be divided against itself. In other words, its own divisions would cause it to be destroyed from within. Implicitly comparing Satan to a strongman who is defeated by a stronger man, Jesus shows that it must be the kingdom of God at work in himself that overcomes Satan, plunders his kingdom, and drives demons out of people.

The Holy Spirit was at work in the Lord Jesus performing all these miracles and casting out demons from people. To attribute the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan consistently without repentance is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is the unpardonable sin, the guilt of which is eternal.

After Jesus had responded to the accusations of the scribes from Jerusalem, his mother and brothers arrive, sending a message to him to come to them outside the crowd. We do not know if Jesus went to them at that point. But we do know that he answered this message with a penetrating question, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (Mark 3:33) He then looks around on all who are seated in a circle round him and listening to him, saying, “Behold my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother (Mark 3:34-35).

A REVERSAL OF THE ORDER OF FAMILY PRIORITIES

Jesus’ pronouncement here is not a rejection of all natural family relationships, but rather an expression of the truth that relationships with those whose purpose is to do God’s will supersede earthly family relationships at times, because the call of God to obedience is greater than the call of one’s family. It was not Jesus’ mother and brothers who had to come and take him in hand, because he seemed to be out of his mind, but they who had to come to terms with the truth that they themselves needed to become members of the family of all who repent from sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life.

When he was twelve, Jesus was found by his parents in the temple (Luke 2:46), sitting among the doctors of the law, listening to them and asking them questions, everyone around him being astonished at his understanding and answers. To his parents’ complaint that they had been looking for him for three days, he gave the answer in the form of two questions, “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) His parents did not understand this saying, but it indicated the priority of God the Father’s will in Jesus’ life.

BEING MEMBERS OF GOD’S FAMILY AND KINGDOM CAN BRING REJECTION

Being followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and belonging to God’s kingdom often entails misunderstanding and rejection, just as Jesus suffered these and worse things. Jesus himself warned his disciples in Matthew 10:24-25 (KJV):

The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

 

Even the families of believers will be divided, and rise up against them, as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 10:21-22 (KJV):

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

 

In the same chapter of St. Matthew (Matthew 10:34-36), the Lord declares his coming to fulfill Micah’s prophecy:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

 

Elsewhere (for example, Mark 10:29-30) the Lord speaks of disciples that leave their home, their brothers, sisters, parents, wife, children, or lands for his sake, and the Gospel’s, who receive an hundredfold in this life, together with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.

Sometimes the rejection Christians suffer may discourage them considerably. But the relationship they have with God is the best means of comfort they can possibly experience, and the fellowship they have with God in Christ will not only comfort them, but comfort and strengthen many other children of God, as for example, the hymn, “O Master, let me walk with Thee” (Hymn 572 in our hymnal) by Washington Gladden. Washington was a New England pastor who grew very discouraged with the apparent fruitlessness of his work. One day, downhearted, he climbed up to the church belfry to think. From his high perch, it seemed tempting to jump off, and had he been an unconverted man, he might have considered it, so low were his spirits. Instead he poured out his heart to God, and from that experience wrote out a prayer which later became a powerful hymn, whose first stanza reads:

O Master, let me walk with Thee

In lowly paths of service free;

Tell me Thy secret; help me bear

The strain of toil, the fret of care. [1]

 

The last line of this hymn reads, “With thee, O Master, let me live.” The family of Christ finds in Him the strength, joy, love and power to live, when the trials of life, ministry, mission and witness become overwhelming. It is necessary for each of us to walk with the Lord Jesus to know his comfort and life within ourselves, and to be able to share it with all who need it.

CONCLUSION

The central question in today’s Gospel Lesson is “Who are my mother and my brothers?” How shall we answer that question? It is easy to say, “My family is simply the family I was born into,” or “the family of wife and children that I now have.” Your eternal family, if you are a Christian, consists of all who do the will of God, all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the first-born of this great spiritual family whose Father is God, and whose Holy Spirit lives in all of His family. Every family member in God’s kingdom has obligations and duties. What are yours? Think of the disciples sitting around Jesus and listening to Him, and think of the disciples sharing the Gospel with the all the people of the world.



[1] p. 290, Robert J. Morgan: Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Sermon Illustrations. Nashville, Dallas: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2007.

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