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On your Mark

The new family

"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. 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." (Mark 3:33-35, NIV)

Imagine you are sitting in a house surrounded by admirers, but your own family cannot get in. Your mother and brothers stand outside and send an intermediary to fetch you. You then ask the circle around you a question that seems to indicate you don’t know your own kin!

The mother who nursed you, taught you to walk and talk, shepherded you to school and synagogue, and invested her life and soul in you as her first-born — you do not know your own mother! Amazing!

But that’s exactly what Jesus does: “Who are my mother and brothers?” No one volunteers to answer the question. Dead silence.

So, Jesus answers the question himself. He redefines family. No longer does His family consist of blood relatives — rather it is made up of obedience-to-the-will-of-God relatives. And it’s not just mother and brother — but sister as well.

When Jesus posed the question, sister was not mentioned. In fact, His sisters are not standing outside with His mother and brothers — and we know He did have sisters (Mark 6:3). (Joseph, the husband of Mary, is also not there, having evidently died sometime in the period between Jesus’ 12th birthday and the beginning of His ministry at age 30.)

What is Jesus doing? He is redefining our relationship to Him both vertically (mother to son) and horizontally (brother to siblings).

What does it mean to be a mother of Jesus in the spiritual sense? It’s evidently an available role since Jesus includes it as a possibility for familial relationship. Does this not open the door for us to assume a nurturing role toward Jesus by lending our hearts and hands to help His body in every way possible?

And what does it mean to be the brother or sister of Jesus? Doesn’t that involve camaraderie, mutual support, honesty and a deep relational commitment that goes far beyond friendship?

I am very close to my family. I cherish the memories of my father and mother. My sister and brother, daughter and son, and their spouses and children are all living. I know who they are. In fact, I know them well. I am grateful for family — and I would never think to ask the question, “Who are my mother and brothers?”

Jesus came to create a family not based on bloodline, but on faith in Him. Having formed that family, He calls us to belong to it.

Yes, we will always have our family formed by the flesh — by our common bonds of DNA, parentage and ancestry. But we also have another family. It’s called the body of Christ, and we are to treat that family as Jesus does.

Mistreatment of a brother or sister believer is an offense to Jesus since that individual is a mother, brother or sister of Christ. If we would not mistreat our own blood family, then we must certainly love well the family of Jesus.

A prayer of response
I call You Lord. But You tell me that I am Your mother, brother or sister if I do the will of God. Your primary will is that I receive You as Lord and Savior. But I also like You calling me Your sibling. I know You are God’s Son — and that title stands far above me — but “Brother” or “Sister” or “Mother” binds me close to You. I’m thrilled to be a member of Your family!

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

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