Speak Lord, your servant is listening.
Mark 3:20-21, 31-35. I’ve lumped these two passages together because they are very related. Read just these verses at least three times through, stopping between each reading to consider what’s going on in the passage. Make notes in your journal and/or circle phrases that strike you as you read.
Whenever I read this passage, I get a little uncomfortable. Doesn’t it sound like Jesus is dissing his mom and siblings? Today, as I read it, though, it occurred to me that perhaps I could focus not on the apparent “diss,” but instead on the implications for everyone else (including me!)—”Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
To me, this passage is about identifying with Christ through embodying the will of God in our actions. All are welcome to be identified with Christ! We are welcome to be part of his family. And the invitation is free—but it’s not cheap.
“Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” He is my closest relation. She is my nearest kin. And the nuance here should not be missed: doing God’s will does not make you Jesus’s close relative. But if you are his close relative, in the spiritual sense, you will doGod’s will. It’s not about earning your place in the family of God. It’s about the fact that, if you are in the family of God, your actions will reflect that identity.
This reminds me of the passage from James 1:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
Statements about our behavior as it relates to our righteousness are always in danger of leading to a “works-based righteousness.” But that is backwards. If we are righteous, our works will reflect that. If our works don’t reflect righteousness, the authenticity of our righteousness (imputed by Christ, not earned) is in question. This doesn’t mean we need to question our salvation, however. But it does mean we need to spend more time seeking “first the kingdom of God.” When we seek God’s kingdom first and foremost, righteousness—and the acts that embody righteousness—will follow.
I am sometimes guilty of wanting to be identified in Christ even as I want permission to do my own thing. Rather than seeking God’s will, I spend an awful lot of time seeking my own. Yet I still want to have “close relative” access to God. Right now, let’s pray together that God would show us his will, and enable us to do it. Not to earn the title of “brother” or “sister,” but because he has already called us “friends.”
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I’d love to hear your thoughts as you’re going through these texts with me. Please share your own comments below. Perhaps you’d like to just list what phrases you circled, or write a prayer you prayed that we might also use as a guide.