This passage is one of the greatest proofs of the resurrection of Jesus found in Scripture. Help me connect these dots:
“Your brothers are outside looking for You.” Mark 3:32
“For not even His brothers were believing in Him.” John 7:5
“James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James 1:1
How does James (presumed to be James the brother of Jesus) go from thinking his brother is insane to calling himself a “servant” to his “Lord Jesus.” Extra-biblical sources tell us that James goes on to become the leader of the church in Jerusalem and eventually a martyr for Christ. How is this possible if just a few weeks before Jesus died, James didn’t believe? Something extraordinary must have happened to prove to James that Jesus is Lord.
Answer: The Resurrection! If Jesus hadn’t returned from the dead, do you really think his non-believeing brother would go to his death claiming that Christ is risen?!
“…no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” -Jesus, John 3:5
Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. It’s no wonder then the same must be true of us if we are to be his brothers and sisters. It’s always been faith over flesh. Faith in Jesus begets spiritual rebirth, hardwired with a new spiritual DNA. Soon enough, we can’t help but look like family.
“For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” When Jesus proclaimed “the Kingdom of God is at hand” in Mark chapter 1, He was announcing that life would look and feel different as a citizen of this new kingdom. Being a citizen of God’s Kingdom would affect everything. Priorities, practices, prejudices, and now relationships were being redefined by love, service, grace, and obedience. Life in God’s Kingdom was/is larger and longer that people recognize. It is fitting that Jesus reshapes they way we should think and feel about other believers too- family. Vulnerability, forgiveness, sacrifice, accountability, and obedience all are distinguishing marks of the members in the “family of God”.
There will always be someone ‘outside’…someone close to you, related to you, or thrown together with you through circumstances…that will be set on distracting or diverting you from obedience to what God wants you to do. They may make a frontal assault or present as a caring companion offering a common sense approach. Even more insidious an enemy though is sin.
Sin masquerades as a harmless distraction that can do us no harm. (Picture trying to run a race when you are entangled in a fishing net.) In fact, we must recognize sin as a subtle and pervasive enemy that seeks to rob us of spiritual power and victory. If we call our sin a weakness or bad habit instead of confronting it for what it really is, we can never have victory. Hebrews 12:1 warns us to throw off the sin that so easily entangles us. Thank God there is no sin that entangles us that God’s grace does not abound more! (Romans 5:20)
Did Jesus need the intimacy of family – mother, brother, sister, father? To feel uncomfortable with that question is to recognize that we have deemed need a weakness, a frailty, a liability. But is it? Consider the kind of person for whom fellowship is not an integral part of that person’s being. That person would most certainly not be God, for God is revealed in the scriptures as an eternal fellowship of three persons. Moreover, the only way God is presented to us in the Bible is as a creator seeking fellowship with the created. To distill a “pure” form of God who exists apart from his desire to live with human beings is to suggest a God who doesn’t actually exist. We need fellowship’s intimacy not because we’re weak, but because we bear God’s image.
For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother. vs. 35
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. Exodus 20:12
Caring for each other seems to be a consistent thread of scripture. Whether it is to obey, or to assist, the Bible has much to say about how we should interact with neighbors (everyone) and family (believers). Bob Goff wrote a book confronting this topic called Everybody, Always, and the premise is that we are called to love and serve everybody, always. It’s what Jesus has been saying all along. In the wake of last week’s storms it was an incredible picture of the church to see phone calls and texts from all over the city making sure their brothers and sisters had everything they needed. We don’t need a crisis to act like Jesus. He has given us permission already.
“but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” vs 29
I often get asked by young Christians, “What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? And how do I know I haven’t committed it?” It is a tricky question to answer, especially when you are trying to explain to a new believer that there is no sin too big for God to forgive… except that one…
I usually end up explaining that the blasphemy of the Spirit is the rejection of the Holy Spirit’s calling on your life. In my study this week I was enlightened to a new way of presenting this idea. David Guzik described the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit as “an attitude of the heart that cares nothing for God’s forgiveness. It never has forgiveness because it never wants forgiveness God’s way.” The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not a one time event that leads to eternal condemnation, but rather a perpetual rejection of the forgiveness and grace of God. The attitude of a heart that is filled with the Spirit leads the individual into frequent repentance.
When you set yourself against something, you will believe almost anything.
The religious elite sent their brightest from Jerusalem to determine the source of Jesus’ power. His ability to cast out demons and heal the sick was not in question; that had become self-evident. And yet they had also decided he could not be sent from God on account of his “authoritative” teaching. They couldn’t stand him. They were offended by him.
It is here where they abandoned all reason, leaving them to be believe the most abhorrent things about Jesus-that he was demon possessed and in league with Satan himself. In their extreme prejudice they were only left with a few options. And in their defiance they would much rather embrace the most offensive lies than consider the truth of who Jesus was.
The lies they believed made them feel comfortable, at ease with themselves and their self-righteousness, but ultimately it would yield the fruit of unrepentance.
What is a parable? It is a short, didactic story using people as characters to teach a spiritual truth or principle. Our passage this week says Jesus began to speak to them in parables…but these don’t exactly look like parables. Parables often require the reader to recognize the allegory in the story and then to make the connection to the spiritual truth. These parables seem to be straightforward…no interpretation required here. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand…you cannot plunder a strong man’s house unless you first bind the strong man. Some of Jesus’ parables went right by the religious leaders of the day…they had no idea what He was talking about. You would think that these parables were very obvious in their truths.
Scripture has many straightforward principles…you must be born again…Jesus is the only way to salvation…I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again. These and many others give a clear message…to the heart that has been prepared by the Holy Spirit! Rejection of the Holy Spirit brings eternal judgment. The heart cannot understand without the Spirit’s enlightening work.