During his ministry on earth, Jesus often spoke directly to those with him with words of instruction intended specifically for those individuals. Less frequently he spoke to all who would listen to him, using words of universal importance. Over these few weeks we reflect on some of the instructions from the Gospel of Mark that Jesus intended we, and all who follow him, should receive and obey.
Gospel of Mark 3: 31-35 (NIV)
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.”
The statement with universal application in verse 35 embraces all who do God’s will. This goes beyond intellectual assent to the spiritual consequence of willing obedience. Jesus has identified these as members of his family (“brother and sister and mother”) and thereby members, with the Son, of the family of God the Father.
We are to love those in the Christian family as members of our own family. We may find they are very different from us. We might find it hard to accept the backgrounds of some of these. It is salutary to remember the thief on the cross who, in his dying moments, received assurance from our Lord that they would be together in paradise (Luke 23: 43).
Some may know major challenges in their own earthly families; that makes it all the more wonderful to be among other brothers and sisters of our Lord.
Christians are called to live out their faith in community. The Christian who deliberately isolates herself or himself from others is withholding gifts intended to be shared and, at the same time, is unable to receive the gifts of others. Sharing of our gifts, both giving and receiving, is part of the communal life that God expects of his people.