Flashback Episode — Doing God’s Will: Mark 3:31-35

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Following up what we focused on in our last episode, we discover in our passage for this episode that Jesus’ mother and brothers arrive. If we were to take this passage and event by itself, we would not have any context for why Jesus’ mother and brothers were there. However, as our passage in the last episode pointed out, the purpose of Jesus’ family’s trip was to stop Jesus from doing what He had been called to do.

Let’s read what happened when they showed up, and discover some things we can learn from Jesus’ response. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 3, and we will read from the New International Version. Starting in verse 31, Mark tells us:

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

In the entire gospel record, this event stands out in my mind as one of the most offensive things Jesus does. In three short verses, Jesus basically disowns His own family while emphasizing a bigger point about families in general. However, while we might be quick to point blame onto Jesus for how He reacts in this situation, He is not the only one at fault.

The way Jesus’ mother and brothers handle this situation is equally as bad. While Jesus’ family could have waited for an opportunity to go inside, or pushed their way through the crowds into the home, they send a message to Jesus instead. The implication in the message is that Jesus must stop what He is doing and step outside to talk to them.

While there is nothing in the message that is relayed to Jesus that indicates Jesus’ mother and brothers think He is crazy or that He needs to stop, we learn that from the context of this passage, specifically in the opening verses of our last episode’s passage.

In these few verses, we see Jesus’ family challenging Jesus to stop, and Jesus responding by redefining the idea of family in a way that excludes them.

However, I don’t see Jesus actually disowning His family. Instead, Jesus disowned what they were there doing. Instead of focusing on listening and learning, which would have been God’s will in this situation, we see Jesus’ family step outside of God’s will and try to get Jesus to stop.

How do we know that listening to Jesus is part of God’s will? From what Jesus implies in the last two verses in this passage. Verses 34 and 35 describe the scene: “Then he [Jesus] 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.’

Jesus draws attention to those seated in the circle around Him, and then He calls these men and women His mother and His brothers. Jesus then identifies the characteristic we must have to be called a brother, a sister, or a mother, and this characteristic is that we are doing God’s will. This means that those seated in the circle are doing what God wanted them to do because Jesus calls them His mother and His brothers, and Jesus’ family is made up of people doing God’s will.

This leads us to a huge truth: Doing God’s will places us within God’s family!

When we step outside of God’s will for our lives, we also step outside of God’s family. While it is never pleasant to think that our presence in God’s family is a matter of obedience, living within God’s will has at its definition a level of obedience. God’s will is not up for debate and God’s will for us is not something that changes.

In this passage, Jesus elevates but also simplifies what it means to be a part of God’s family. If you think doing God’s will is hard, you may be right, but according to this passage, doing God’s will is about as simple as you can think of. All those people in this passage did to be included in Jesus’ family and be identified as doing God’s will was simply sitting and listening to Jesus. I cannot think of a simpler way to be praised for being within God’s will.

While we don’t have Jesus physically speaking into our ears today like He did with those people in the first century, the next best option we have is reading the Bible, and in the context of this passage, we could say reading the gospels, that include Jesus’ own words. We could take this a step further and listen to an audio recording of the Bible to actually hear God’s word. With the technology available today, we can listen to the Bible in ways that would not have been dreamed of hundreds of years ago.

However, in this passage, we also see a challenge. In this passage, we see a subtle warning that our families might be a source of distraction. This passage subtly implies that Satan was working through Jesus’ mother and brothers to try to get Jesus to step outside of God’s will. If the Pharisees and religious leaders weren’t able to stop Jesus, Satan may have reasoned that Jesus’ own family might derail Him.

I am not going to step out and claim that in your case, Satan is distracting you from God’s will directly through your family. More often than not, life is more complex than this. Instead, knowing this is a possibility for us to face, especially since Jesus faced it Himself, we should find time that we can spend focusing on God and on Jesus when our families are not around or doing something that will distract us.

I will be the first to say that dedicating time to spend with God is much easier to say than it is to do. However, I also know that a strong relationship with God needs time spent with Him, and that means we must prioritize time with God. We have already seen in Mark’s gospel that Jesus focused on spending time with God. In our own lives, we must make spending time with God a priority because everything else in our life will try to steal time away from this incredibly significant habit.

As we come to the end of this podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to prioritize spending time with Him. Know that almost everything imaginable will try to steal time out of your life that you could spend with God, but believe that the time you spend with God will be rewarded in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. A strong relationship with God today leads into eternal life when Jesus returns. While there is more to the gospel than just this truth, the gospel message doesn’t mean much without this important detail.

Also, as I always challenge you to do, continue intentionally praying and studying the Bible for yourself to continue growing your personal relationship with God stronger. While pastors, speakers, authors, or even a podcaster can give you great things to think about, don’t neglect your time with God in favor of listening to other people. If you focus more on what others think and believe you will never be able to grow into the faith and knowledge that God has called you into. Instead, grow a personal relationship with God and let other people’s thoughts and ideas strengthen and encourage what you have already begun.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or give up on where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 8: When Jesus’ mother and brothers come to visit, discover how they step outside of God’s will and also tempt Jesus to do the same. Discover in a few short verses how we can be included in Jesus’ family and what this truly means!

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