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Mark 3:20-35

The Rev. Jon Roberts

7 June

2015

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

20 And the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Be-el′zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house. 28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” 31 And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers[a] are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

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Samuel and Saul, Claes Corneliszoon Moeyaert, 1618-1655

Who is my brother?
Who is my mother?
Jesus calls us once more to love one another. [1]

Last week was Trinity Sunday where the three become one. Within diversity we find perfect unity. It is the perfect family. We are called into it, but we can’t get there by ourselves. This week could very well be referred as Family Sunday as we here our Savior ask, “Who is my brother, who is my mother?” The larger family, outside of his biological mother and siblings is the one he is referring. How many of you come from a larger family? Do you have two, three, four, five, perhaps six brothers and sisters who belong to your family?

Have you ever noticed that the larger the family the more “interesting” it becomes? Today I would like to identify you with my family. Everyone pull together in the pews. Come around. Let me see if I can get you into the picture (photo opportunity). I will develop this picture later. God called together this Church to be part of His family. The kingdom of God far outstretches anything we have on earth. God is able to balance the six plus billion people worldwide into being part of His family. Even further, he goes beyond into history and has billions more. But all families have their struggles don’t they? To understand this further listen to this story.

Once, there was a strong young man at a construction site who was bragging that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He made a special target of one of the older workmen. He chided him about being too slow, too weak, and not in his prime anymore. After several minutes, the older worker had enough. "Why don't you put your money where your mouth is?" he said. "I will bet a week's wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won't be able to wheel back." "You're on, old man," the braggart replied. "Let's see what you got." The old man reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the young man, he said, "All right. Get in."

Jesus was confronted by what I call the bullies. They were sent to chide him and the authority given by God. One called him mad, crazy, “loco” because of things he said. “I’ll tear down this temple and raise if back in three days,” for example. Jesus responds with a good argument. If “I” were crazy then what about all the people who witnessed my miracles and their life was changed for the good? Are they following a crazy man? That seemed to put the one bully in his place. The second bully came with something more sinister. He said that Jesus was possessed by Beezebul, or the Devil. Jesus confronted this with another good argument. He said, “Why would the devil cast out demons that belonged to him?” Would the Devil want to keep people sick and mentally imprisoned? The second bully had no response. Jesus also cautioned anyone who referred to God as mad or crazy, or possessed by the Devil as that would be blasphemy. One cannot enter the kingdom of God with such thoughts.

Jesus, like the old man in the story, identifies that these bullies are still part of the family and simply needed to be taught a good lesson that would tear down their pride.[2] The rabbis of sacred tradition held on dearly to the Torah, the temple and all the commands made by man but forgot who the real king of the world, the human family, was. They thought this young Jesus was the prideful one but come to find out it was them. Pride often comes from fear of losing something. They felt they were going to lose their identity. Jesus simply told them, “Get in; I’ll take you the distance you can’t go on your own.” This was also the case in the first lesson from the Old Testament when the people of Israel demanded the prophet Samuel to consecrate a king in Saul. He became a terrible leader and taxed more than what their current occupier was doing to them.[3] But they rejoiced greatly to have a king. They wanted to flex their muscle to the rest of the world and show how strong they were. Flexing our muscle to the rest of the family is simply showing off and sooner or later the flesh becomes weak.

This is what we hear in scripture when St. Paul says, “Our outer nature is withering away. Our inner nature is being renewed every day.”[4] We come into this world wearing diapers and given time we leave with diapers. We begin with great physical strength but then that goes away. What we find is that we gain in spiritual strength. This family God has created has those who are strong and those who are weak. Those who are rich and those who are poor. Those who are liberal and those who are conservative. Jesus, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, puts his hands on the handles and tells the world to “get in.”

God expects that this part of the family will not chastise the world and call it crazy, but rather to love it through difficult times. That is what Jesus does. He makes the weak strong and he allows the strong to become weak. In this church there are those of us who are challenged and sometimes we become bullies to our other siblings. It doesn’t make us love them less. Look at the world as your family. Everyone you come into contact. At the grocery store, the post office, the driveway, especially in Church; they are all part of the family and God with good reason brought you together.

At the end of the story with Jesus, the last straw to send him away was when he was told to go outside to meet his mother, his brothers and sisters. He certainly would cater and show favoritism to his “own.” Jesus speaks most clearly that everyone who listens to my voice are my family. This morning, ask yourself, “Who is my brother, who is my mother?” It could be Jesus once more calling you to love one another. Enjoy the family that God has given to all of us. Proclaim the good news to the world that the Kingdom of God has been prepared for them. All they have to do is simply, “Get in.”

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Mark 3:20-35
[3] 1 Samuel 8:4-20
[4] 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

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