The Second Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 3:2-35;1 Cor. 4:13-5:1
Grace and peace to you from God our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
You can count on one hand the stories about Jesus’ earthly family in the gospels.
We have the Christmas story, of course Then the new parents bring the eight day-old baby Jesus to the temple for his dedication. The prophet Simeon give a little warning about some of the pain that is in store for this family here on earth, especially Mary– a sword piercing the soul. Some of us might know that feeling about families.
We have a story about Jesus as an adolescent and his family, where he gets rebellious and stays behind in the temple when they go home from the Passover and they have to go hunting for him. Mary is understandably miffed. “Where you been? We’ve been worried!” He gets a little lippy with her: “Don’t you know I have to be about my Father’s business?” Apparently there are more important things for a 12 year old than hanging out with his family. Imagine that!
There’s the wedding at Cana 20 years later that Jesus and his mother both attend, where they have another, sort of testy little exchange between them over the beverage situation.
Then we have his brothers going to the Passover, (he doesn’t go with them but shows up later,) and of course Mary at the cross with John. Then today’s reading and that’s about it. Just very few. But they give us intriguing glimpses of what it was like for Jesus, who had this other full-time job of being the light of the world, also to be a son and a sibling with parents, brothers sisters, a family and all the baggage that goes with it. Because, after all, all families have baggage.
In today’s gospel reading we have these two things going on at once, something that happens a lot in Mark’s gospel. We have Jesus teaching, preaching, healing - while at the same time he is being attacked by the religious authorities for breaking the rules, associating out with outcasts and forgiving people. The scribes’ tactic this time is to accuse him of being possessed by a demon. So he is debating them, as any good rabbi would, and he says “if I were really were possessed by one of Satan’s demons, how could I cast out Satan himself” which Jesus has been doing for people. And he uses a little parable that has become iconic: if a house, were divided against itself, it would not be able to stand, he says. So how could I be possessed by demons and cast out demons at the same time? Doesn’t work, case closed. That seems to shut them up, and the argument is over, at least for now.
Now he tries to go back to work with this houseful of people he has with him, and we have one more story about Jesus’ family. Someone in the crowd tells him that his mother and his brothers and his sisters, are here, they have come to his workplace. They have heard about the accusations of possession, that he is making a spectacle of himself around town, and there are apparently reports that he has completely lost it – lost his mind. They are taking things into their own hands, they seem to think that Jesus could make the whole family look bad. Can you imagine? Maybe this is part of the sword piercing Mary’s soul that the prophet talked about. They try to shut him up. The try restrain him. His own family takes sides against him. This has got to hurt. I mean it’s one thing for the Pharisees to gang up on him, but come on. His own family. So his image about “a house divided against itself” takes on a whole new meaning when his family is divided against itself.
And this is where Jesus blows the whole thing open. This is my family, he says. These are my mother and brothers and sisters. Not the people who are out there trying to stop me from my mission. But my disciples. Those who are on the mission with me. And by extension, I would say not just the people in that house that day, but all Jesus’ disciples of all times and places. Us. We are Jesus’ other family. And that is what makes us family to each other, an idea that is very real to us in the church.
Now I don’t want to make too much of how bad Jesus’ family was. After all Mary is an icon of faithfulness. We all have friction in our families. Even though he does say some pretty remarkable things somewhere about having to hate your mother and father and brothers and sisters if you want to be his disciple. My point here is, though, that for Jesus, and for us as his disciples, our deepest commitment is to God. And that’s our salvation. That is one of the things this story is about. And that God’s greatest commitment is to us - the company of saints, the cloud of witnesses that have gone before, will come after, and even now walk alongside us. And that’s what makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. We are God’s children, and for those of us whose earthly families are among that company, so much the better.
Jesus has claimed us. And that’s another thing this story is about. In our baptisms, we say, and by the cross, he has claimed us as his adoptive family. That is something Christ the King has felt always from, what I understand, but maybe we fell it even more particularly at this point in our history.
And it is something that is going to sustain us in the weeks and months ahead. Jesus claims us as family. No matter what, we will always be family and we will never be separated from each other in spirit, or from Jesus because he is part of our family. That is more important that any building or any name
As the apostle Paul says this morning, when the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building made from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. And it’s one that will never be divided.
And now that peace that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
|Holy Communion||10:00 AM|
|FOOD SUNDAY||10:15 AM|
|Mid-week Bible Study||10:00 AM|
|Mid-week Bible Study||10:00 AM|
|Council Meeting||6:30 PM|