Thought for the Week Sunday June 6th 2021
As we start our Sunday and a new week ahead let us bring to God all that we are – our hopes and worries, our joys and pains, the good things and the bad, trusting that God loves us and will protects us. Amen
Mark Ch3 20v-35v
As I was looking at the readings for today, I have to say that I found this particular part of Mark’s Gospel quite challenging and hard to interpret, especially the part where Jesus said that his Mother and brothers were not his family, but that his family were those of his followers who wanted to know more of the kingdom of God.
Here is a brief summary of the Gospel reading:
Jesus is in a house in Capernaum and a large crowd had gathered, so much so, that Jesus and his disciples were squashed and didn’t even have room to eat. It is said that the followers may have travelled from his home town of Nazareth, which was only about 20 miles away, so may have known Jesus as a child.
There were in fact three types of people in the crowd, those who wanted to learn more of Jesus’s teachings, the Pharisees and Jesus’s family.
The Pharisees were there to stir up trouble; they had been watching Jesus for some time and knew that he held great power so felt threatened by him. They try to discredit him by telling the crowd that only God had the power to heal and that according to the Jewish law and the 10 Commandments, the Sabbath should be kept holy, but Jesus healed the sick, and if needed, on the Sabbath.
The Pharisees informed his followers that Jesus was a blasphemer and was not the son of God. They stated that as Jesus had the power to heal people, he must be Beelzebub the devil. Jesus’s responds to this by answering in parables.
“How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.” Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven for the children of man and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”.
Jesus had casts out demons, so if like the Pharisees suggest, Jesus was Satan, he would in fact be casting out himself. How can the devil cast out the devil, he would just cancel himself out, so Jesus couldn’t be Satan…
If Jesus is binding the strong man (Satan) he is stopping him from doing evil. Jesus is stronger than the devil and plundered his wickedness changing it into righteousness and in doing so overcame him.
In the last part of the parable he was saying that our sins will be forgiven, that is unless we blaspheme against the Holy Spirit as the Pharisees had done when saying that Jesus was Beelzebub and had an unclean heart.
Mary, Jesus’ mother and brothers were also at the gathering, they had joined the throng and asked one of them to inform Jesus that they were there and waiting outside. They believed Jesus was out of his mind and had turned crazy so wanted to take him home, to protect him. They may also have been slightly embarrassed because of all the commotion he was causing. The person from the crowd informed Jesus that his mother was outside seeking him, Jesus said,
‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.’ ” (Mark 3:31-34)
I found this passage difficult to understand and I’m sure many people standing in that crowd felt the same way. What could Jesus mean? Could it be that Jesus knew that his family were there to take him away, therefore stopping him from being obedient to God spreading the Christian message, doing Gods Will?
And what about Mary, how did she feel? Did she feel she had lost her son?
I remember when we first moved to Essex and Steve hadn’t been in touch with his mum for a few weeks and then had to make a flying trip back to Cheshire for work reasons and didn’t get time to call in and see her. She had found out and rang me saying, “for the first time I feel I have lost my son” I could hear the hurt in her voice. Of course she hadn’t, and this is in no way comparable to Mary’s plight but still, both are mothers and must have felt that they weren’t needed in the same way as before.
I suppose some of us can relate it to when our own children or someone close to us leaves home and may meet someone else that may mean more to them than us or their parents; it doesn’t mean that they love us or them any less it’s just a different kind of love.
In a far more significant scenario as in the case of Jesus, although loving his mother and his brothers, his commitment was to God, to love and obey his command. In this parable Jesus is not saying that he has no responsibility to his blood relatives , even when dying he took particular care for his mother –John 19 v 25-27 he is saying that we have a prior loyalty to God and his kingdom.
The family was probably under a lot of pressure; and as mentioned previously feeling embarrassed at Jesus behaviour and thought they knew best, they didn’t. Jesus had the choice of leaving with them “going quietly” thereby pleasing the family and stopping their worrying and Jesus persevering with his mission of teaching and healing that would eventually lead to fatal consequences yet also the salvation of the world. Thankfully he stayed true to his mission at a cost that the family could not have known at the time.
I thank God that we have our own families to cherish and from whom we can gain support and wise council, but we can also gain other riches from our Christian family.
I know this from my own experience, especially when the girls were growing up. Being part of our Christian family was an integral part of their lives, sharing in fellowship with other youngsters, singing in KOGS (Kids of the Green) church outings etc. and generally having the council and love of the whole church fellowship, this has played an important part and helped shape who they are today.
Although these parables have been difficult for me to interpret and I thank those who have helped me understand them, it has been a good lesson in my faith journey and I hope that it hasn’t confused you but given you food for thought. I suppose like Mary we have to let those we love spread their wings and seek their own destiny.
The following is an excerpt from the writings of the poet, artist and philosopher Kahill Gibran.
“And a woman who held her babe against her breast said, speak to us of children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts
For they have their own thoughts
You may house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer seeks the mark of the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archers hand be for gladness
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable”.