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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 3:19b–35 

Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them 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 will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (NRSV)

It was a tough day for Jesus’ first family. Apparently, they learned that the traveling rabbi was back in Nazareth from the word on the street. The rumors were rampant that Jesus had lost his mind. On top of that, the religious leaders were accusing him of working for the chief demon. Understandably, his family went to find him. The gospel writer chose an intriguing verb for the family’s intended action: they went out to “restrain” him.

Perhaps their misplaced concern contributes to the scene at the conclusion of today’s reading. When the family locates Jesus, they send word through the crowd, by a messenger, that they are waiting for him outside. Instead of taking a break to see his family, Jesus questions out loud just who is his family? Then he makes a claim to which we cling tightly in our own experience. Whoever seeks to follow Jesus, striving to live out the will of God, are Jesus’ sisters and brothers.

What a rich gift of grace that Jesus broadened the boundaries of his family in this radically inclusive way! How intimate and empowering that we are able to lift our prayers in the name of Jesus, our brother.

Thank you, God, for your forgiving love that restores our relationships with our neighbors and with you. I am deeply grateful for Jesus’ radically inclusive welcome of his followers into his family. And I pray in the name of our brother and our Savior. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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