Let us pray: Dear Savior, remind us today that what really matters in life is being linked to Your love and redemption. Remind us that the ties of faith are actually much thicker, deeper, and stronger than the ties of blood. And then move each of us to continually share our faith with family and friends and spread the power of the Spirit among them. Yes, teach all of us that Godly love defines love—even among our earthly families. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR LOVING LORD!
TEXT: Mark 3: 20-35
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Today is Father’s Day in America. Today is the day we especially think of our earthly fathers and all they have done and still do to protect, teach, encourage, and build up our families. I have a question for you. Considering all the things fathers should do, what is their #1 duty? What is the most important task that any father can engage in to build up his family? Most would answer: “Being a good provider.” Well, that’s certainly in the running. But, it isn’t the most important. No, #1 ranking has to go to: “Leading your family to Christ.” Every father should be the spiritual head of his family. Every father should make the eternal welfare of their souls his primary task. Our Lord says it well: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and yet forfeit his own soul.”
The time period of our lesson is early in Christ’s ministry, the 1st six months or so. Jesus’ father, Joseph, has been dead for some time. So, Christ, the oldest, has assumed leadership in the family. He was put in charge of His mother’s welfare along with that of his brothers and sisters by social custom and just plain loving responsibility. Jesus took over the family business when Joseph died. Jesus was the primary bread-winner. Jesus was the new head of that clan. And considering that Christ was the perfect Son of God, no doubt He did a great job, too!
But then, upon reaching 30 years old, the age of Jewish maturity and gravitas in that culture, He left His earthly family to begin His public ministry. How strange this must of appeared to His siblings? Recall that Mary was originally complicit in all this—recall how she had her hand in manipulating His first miracle of turning water into wine at Cana. And yet, now the months had gone by and He’s always absent. The family gets restless. “When is He coming home and getting back to work? When will He leave behind all this ‘God stuff’ and resume working and making money in the carpenter’s shop? We need Him.” Then they hear even more reports of His comings and goings. They hear how He’s doing miracles, gathering a group of disciples, and even casting out demons from hapless souls. The neighbors are talking. The powers that be, way off in Jerusalem are taking note of Him and not in a positive way. And they are embarrassed by it all. Then one day, they hear that Jesus is in the vicinity at someone’s house along with His new following. Mark recounts: “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He’s out of his mind.’” And note well that later in the lesson, Mary went along with them! Yes, her faith was clouded by doubt and self-interest, too. Literally, they all thought: “This is the man we grew up with, the one that didn’t do anything amazing when He was a boy. Obviously, He’s gone off His rocker! He has delusions of grandeur. We’ve got to have a family intervention!”
This little narrative has been written for our learning. We’ve all had or currently have “family issues.” And quite frankly, all those issues are a result of human sin, either on our part, or on the part of siblings, parents, or relatives. The closeness of “family ties” often blinds us from identifying the problem and resolving it, too. As they say: “human love is blind.” But, since Christ was God’s eternal Son, His love isn’t blind! And so today, let’s see how He handles all this and learn from Him as we consider this question:
IS YOUR FAMILY TIED TO GOD’S?
We Americans are steeped in: majority rules. We’re also very accepting of the fact that experts’ opinions are far more weighty than those of common people. Christ’s earthly family unfortunately accepted both principles. Expert “teachers of the Law” from Jerusalem are already present with the crowd surrounding that house where Christ is eating. Their pride has been stung by His demonstrations of miraculous powers. By their own words: “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons”—they show their “weighty” agreement with the assessment of Jesus by His family!
Of course, they are all wrong. Yes, the majority can make mistakes and they made a doozy right here! To mock and belittle God’s power seen in and through Christ is an eternally deadly error of judgment. But, Jesus uses their error to not only put them in their place but to teach even more about Himself. He tells them a parable about the impossibility of what they are saying and thinking. “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, the kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand: his end has come.”
Let’s put that in modern terms. If an investor never invests and is anti-investment, then obviously he’s not really an investor at all. If you have a technocrat who invents the “latest and greatest” gadget and hypes it to the masses, yet refuses to buy one himself or ever use it in his own life, isn’t that person living a lie? Isn’t he subverting his own invention? Yes, even “crazy” people don’t act in such a self-defeating manner!
Anyway, Jesus wraps up his point by saying: “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.’—He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit.’” Yes, the personal attacks against Christ and His Divine nature, the belittling of it—even in the face of undeniable miracles belittles the Spirit Who is behind it all and thus is eternally damning.
After this interlude, we’re told that Christ’s mother and brothers have arrived outside the house. They send someone inside to tell Jesus. Of course, as God’s Son, Jesus already knew they were there and knew what they had in mind for Him. He knew how off-kilter they were in their thinking. And so He uses their arrival to teach everyone, including them, a great truth when it comes to our relationship with God. “Who are my mother and my brothers?” He asks rhetorically. “Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’”
So, what really ties your family together? More to the point, what ties your family together right this day? Is blood thicker than faith? No! Are our human families more important than our spiritual family? No! That’s because human families don’t save us—Christ does! Human families are not eternal—but Christ’s is! Human families are tainted by sin, but Christ’s family has been redeemed from sin by His loving death on a cross to save us and by His glorious resurrection which confirms His forgiving love to us. What Christ is saying here is that you and I, members of His body, the Church, are more important to Him and closer to Him than those humans who shared common blood with Him via Mary, their mother.
Our theme today: Is Your Family Tied To God’s? is pertinent for this Father’s Day. That’s because human fathers can do nothing greater in life than leading by example when it comes to their Christian faith and carrying out their Godly responsibility for the souls entrusted to them. Yes, human fathers can and should follow Christ and tie their loved ones to God in and through teaching about Christ.
And when they do that, when all of us work together at doing that, blessings will be heaped upon even more blessings. How do we know that? Well, we do know that Mary was with Christ at His crucifixion where He consoled her via His disciples John. Likewise, we know that after His resurrection, at least a couple of His half-brothers came to faith and were leaders in the early church. And we also know that Christ’s family still lives on today! That line hasn’t died out. In fact, Christ’s family on this earth and in heaven is huge beyond number! Yes, even you and I are a part of it! That’s because faith, not blood, is the real tie that binds….Amen