Family

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:20-21)

Mark is the only gospel writer to give us this little tidbit. It is the first of his “sandwich” stories – where he starts one story, seems to lose his train of thought, tells another story, and then, surprisingly, comes back for the rest of the first story (there are nine of these in Mark). The story in the middle of the sandwich (the meat) helps to flavor the outer layers (the bread).

In this case, the “meat” story concerns the very foolish and absurd notion that Jesus is casting out demons by the power of Satan. How could his enemies be so stupidly blind? If Satan has turned on himself . . . well . . . his doom is sealed.

But what’s the difference really between those who think Jesus is nuts, and those who think he’s related to the devil?

No difference at all really.

Which puts his family in a rather precarious spiritual condition (to put it entirely too mildly). And where does that put those of us who find Jesus’ life, his lifestyle, his teachings and his expectations unrealistic and “crazy over the top?” In the same boat with his blood family who came to take charge of him – no real family at all.

Who is his family? Jesus says: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

The Call

“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mark 3:13-15).

Jesus called them one by one
Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
Next came Philip, Thomas too,
Matthew and Bartholomew.

So goes the children’s ditty to help them learn the names of the Apostles.  You will find all their names (though not the song) in the four verses that follow our text.

There is more  to the call however than just the call.  First, it was a call of grace.  Why did he pick these guys?  What made them special?  Evidently nothing.  He did not call them because they were special.  His call made them special. Second, it was a call of commitment, a call “to himself” (that part is repeated in the Greek text) and no one else.  Third, it was a call “away” from their previous lives  – a different life signified by a change in their names.  Fourth, it was not just a call to join his entourage, but a call to engage in Jesus work – with his full authority.  Finally, it was a call of conflict: the disciples were to be “with” Jesus, and yet they were to go out from Jesus into the world.

It was, in fact, the precursor and example of what it will mean to be a Christian.