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"From the Pulpit" - June 9, 2024

"From the Pulpit" - reflections on the weekly texts from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church, Vero Beach, FL

Mark 3:20-35

In response to charges that he is possessed, Jesus wonders aloud how anyone who is demon-possessed can cast out demons. Those who do the will of God are possessed by the Holy Spirit, siblings of Christ.

[Jesus went home;] 20 and the crowd came together again, so that [Jesus and the disciples] could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

"Who IS My Mother and My Brother?"

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ.

So, who IS your mother and brother? Seems like a simple question right?  I mean, my Mother is Mary, my Father is Sherwood, and my sister is Cindy.  I don't have a brother. But, could Jesus mean something else entirely here in this little story?  I love it when Jesus answers questions with a question, from the temple elite, politicians, and others, usually trying to trick him into answering incorrectly so they can catch him in an awkward moment.  Don't you wish you could do that? Well maybe you can, but I can't. 

Anyhow, not unlike so many other times, Jesus is in a crowd. He's trying to snag a meal, and even here, those gathered are saying things like "he's out of his mind."  And Mark writes that Jesus spoke to them in parables, which means they likely didn't grasp what Jesus was trying to say to them.  But here, Jesus answers this question almost as if he's questioning the whole "family" thing when he says almost rhetorically, who IS (indeed) my family? I mean, can't you just hear that tone in his voice as he asks this rhetorical question?

But in the last paragraph, the crowd says to Jesus that his mother and his brothers are looking for him. First of all, it's rare that Jesus' family is even mentioned, especially siblings.  But Jesus, hearing this, again asks, "But who are my mother and my brothers"? with the emphasis, I would imagine, on the "are".  It's as if he's questioning who his family really is.  Is it just the nuclear family - parents and siblings? Or is family for Jesus something else entirely?  And I love the answer that he offers in the text when he says, "whoever does the will of God is my family". Wow.

So, this gets us into baptism - at least for me. Because baptized into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as we are, we join the body of Christ. The family of God, if you will.  Bound together by Water and Word into this eternal life together, like it or not.  So, family becomes something more than just our immediate family, but something much larger.

At a recent meeting this past week with some of us from the church, council President Dave Wallace opened the meeting with a little devotion, which we always do (don't we, meeting leaders???). And he read from 1 Corinthiuans 12, where Paul talks about many talents and gifts, but one spirit.  You know the text. Some have the gift of preaching and teaching, while others have the gift of speaking in tongues. But each has the same Spirit.  And so forth. Check it out for the complete content.

The point is that none of us, on our own, possesses all the gifts and talents needed to be complete.  For example, I stink at creating and reading spreadsheets, but my accountant is excellent at it. Together we do my taxes and look at my financial future.  I can't fix a car mechanical problem, but my auto mechanic can.  You get the point.  Each of us has something to bring to this thing we call life.  None of  us on our own can do it all, but our wider "family" - the baptized in Christ, can, together.

I'll say more on this tomorrow during my message, about family, baptism, and the like.  But I think Jesus sums it up precisely at the end of this text when he says, "whoever does the will of God is my brother, my mother, and my sister."  Amen? Amen.

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