Of all the best sellers in the world, the Bible tops the list. It sells well but is not often read well. I’m mystified at the ongoing effort for further English translations when so many languages have yet to receive one book. That’s a blog for another day when I’m led to compare the resources of the ‘developed’ countries with those of the ‘developing’ and an assessment of the spiritual health of both.
I question how well I read the Bible. Haven’t you found verses that just were drawn to your attention, that you were sure were never there before that day?
Today’s Life of Christ account is however, one which I’ve read and studied a multitude of times, particularly trying to walk others through it who claim a special status for Mary in their understanding of the Christian faith.
In Mark 3:21 we learned that the family of Jesus, hearing about the gathering crowds with his disciples who together were focused on learning from him, went to ‘take charge of him,’ concluding he was mentally unstable. Mark then inserts the intense exchange between the teachers of the law and Jesus who accused them of committing the unpardonable sin.
In verse 31, the mother of Jesus (Mary) and his brothers arrive for their ‘intervention.’ The place is packed, and so they send word through the crowd of their arrival and their desire to speak with Jesus, presumably in private. Word spread through the crowd that His family was here (at least his brothers and Mary – Joseph is not mentioned, nor are his sisters). “….they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’”
Now remember Jesus had grown up, as a child demonstrating submission (Luke 2 accounts for this), and knew well, like any faithful ‘child of the covenant’ the command, ‘Honour your father and your mother.’
His question then may seem unusual as he asks, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” He is about to make a teaching moment from this event. He is about to press home the truth that being in relationship with him by DISCIPLESHIP is much more important than being in a relationship by DNA. His FAMILY, his true family, are his FOLLOWERS.
Mary possesses no special status anymore than any other follower. In Luke’s account of the Magnificat, she had rejoiced in God her Saviour, demonstrating her own need of salvation. But throughout his ministry, though respectful and loving (consider his concern for his mother on the cross as he entrusts her to John’s care), he demonstrates a new calling upon the lives of any in whose hearts the Spirit of God had cultivated a desire for the will of God.
What’s his final answer?
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” The next time I have a profitable conversation with someone who affirms a special status for Mary, I think I’ll have them read this text. Anyone choosing to do the will of God (e.g. Believing in Christ) may be close to Him!