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On your Mark

Misunderstood by family

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” (Mark 3:31,32, NIV)

For the first time in Mark’s Gospel, we learn Jesus had a mother.

Mark’s introduction of Jesus on the scene of human history came via John the Baptist. In Mark there is no mention of Jesus’ birth and childhood — no shepherds or Wise Men, manger or inn, angels singing “Gloria in excelsis Deo”; no Herod destroying the babies of Bethlehem, no flight into Egypt or childhood in Nazareth, and no visit to Jerusalem when He was 12.

In Mark, Jesus comes fully formed, grown, with His ministry commenced. Now we learn He has an unnamed mother and brothers.

Prior to the arrival of the scribes from Jerusalem, Jesus’ own family “went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind’ ” (Mark 3:21). The scribes had gotten to Jesus first — walking about 100 miles to accuse Him of being possessed by the devil.

His family never leveled such a charge, but they thought Him crazy. They arrive the 15 miles or so from Nazareth too late to prevent the heated exchange with the scribes.

It’s clearly a family intervention: “Let’s pull Him away and detox Him of His messiah complex before He destroys himself and us with Him.” They use a go-between in an attempt to fetch Jesus.

Notice: The family stands outside. Whenever you stand outside the place where Jesus is, you will really never know Him, even if you are family. The scribes were inside the house, but they didn’t know Him either. Inside or outside, it makes no difference if your heart is in a far country.

Clearly Jesus’ mother and brothers stand outside because they are not yet insiders to His saving mission. You are left to wonder if His mother had recessed too far into her memory the miracles attendant to His birth.

His brothers had played with Him, worked with Him, gone to synagogue and school with Him. They had slept together in the same small house, shared mealtimes day after day, year after year. Yet, they also did not know Him. They only knew Him as their Brother — they had no idea He could be more.

It must have been an awkward moment for everyone: the family, the crowd outside, the crowd within the house, and Jesus himself. It was an embarrassing moment as well — Jesus’ family reduced to talking to Him through intermediaries. Why didn’t Jesus’ family make their way through the crowd and come to Him personally? The failure to do so illustrates the breach that John talks about later: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11, NKJV).

But the family’s failure to understand Jesus was not permanent. We find His mother and brothers in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost, and they too receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14).

Perhaps, like Jesus’ own family, you too have misunderstood the Lord. He has not been what you expected Him to be for you. You wish that circumstances had fallen differently in your own life.

Take heart! Jesus knows the whole, and you only know a part. Trust Him even when you don’t understand.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times when I feel You do not know what Your are doing in my own life. I too have misunderstood You. You never gave up on Your family, and I'm grateful You'll never give up on me.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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