The Family of the Spirit

Mark 3:31-35

OFTEN we overlook the rich truths contained in those little incidents in the life of our Lord which take up little space and, therefore, receive too little attention. One such is found in the visit of His relatives (Matt. 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21).

The brothers of our Lord were puzzled by His ministry. John tells us that they did not believe in Him (7:5). And Mary, His mother, was far from that faultless character which she has been made out to be; our Lord made clear to her several times by gentle rebuke His greater loyalty to the Father (Luke 2:49; John 2:4). Now, while He was teaching the people, it appears that His mother and brethren made a rather unseasonable visit, perhaps to caution Him not to overtax Himself or maybe to warn Him not to bring down the wrath of the Pharisees. It is easy to see how well-meaning relatives could interfere with One who was pursuing a course so certain to bring trouble and so dangerously unusual.

Our Lord’s answer, like so many of His replies, was abrupt and seemingly severe, but it was meant to bring out a great truth in a way that would command attention and make the audience sit up and take notice. He asks, “Who is My mother? And who are My brethren?” Then He declares, as He points out His disciples, “Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother and sister and mother.” He was declaring that His family was the spiritual fellowship of all who do the will of God. He was not ignoring or despising earthly relationships, which have their place and value; He was simply taking opportunity to illustrate the higher relationship of all who are children of God by faith in Himself.

This explains such sharp demands as that we must “hate” father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, and even our own lives, if we are to be His disciples (Luke 14:26). So much greater and higher is this heavenly relationship that our love for our relatives must be as hate compared with our love for Him. It also explains His terse refusal to let would-be disciples return home to bury their dead or bid their families goodbye (Luke 9:59-62). No ties of flesh and blood, no relationships of earth, are worthy to hinder our utter abandon to Him. We must ever beware of those, even of our families, who would tone us down or cramp our freedom with even the most well-meant advice if it runs counter to His will.

While, of course, this truth can be misapplied to the point of fanaticism, few today have reached its point. There must be loyalty to the highest that will brook no interference from even the closest hearts of earth. Many a man is hampered in his ministry today because of a divided affection. Unlike Jesus, he interrupts his work for the Father to confer with the relatives who wait.

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