When Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived, they couldn’t break through the crowd, so they sent word in to Jesus that He should come out to them. The crowd was pressed in tight around Him when He received the message, “Your mother and brothers are waiting outside for You.”
Jesus looked around.
Jesus (answering them): Who are My mother and brothers?
He called into the silence. No one spoke.
At last His gaze swept across those gathered close, and Jesus smiled.
Jesus: You, here, are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does the will of God is My true family.
Jesus went out again to teach by the Sea of Galilee. When the crowd became unmanageable, He climbed aboard a boat and sat down to teach the people listening on the shore by telling them parables. One of His teachings went like this:
Jesus: Listen! A farmer went out and sowed his seed. As he scattered it, one seed fell along the hardened path, and a bird flapped down and snapped it up. One seed fell onto rocky places where the soil was thin, so it sprang up quickly. But when the hot sun scorched the fragile stems and leaves, the seedling withered because its roots didn’t go deep in the soil. One of the seeds fell among the weeds and thorns, which crowded the seedling out of producing a crop. And the rest of the seeds fell in good, rich soil. When they sprouted, the plants grew and produced a crop 30, 60, even 100 times larger than expected for every seed that the farmer had sown.
All who have ears to hear, let them listen.
This is another one of those poorly cut up stories. In verses 20 and 21, we read:
Jesus and His disciples went into a house to eat, but so many people pressed in to see Jesus that they could not be served. When Jesus’ family heard about this craziness, they went to drag Him out of that place.
Jesus’ Family (to one another): Jesus has lost His mind.
And in chapter 2, we find out that Jesus and his followers were in Capernaum, which was a fishing village on the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee (or Lake Kinneret). That’s the setting of the first part of our story. Jesus was traveling through the region and stopped at a home to eat. But, just like clockwork, news spread that he was there and the place became packed with people.
Word reaches his family and they are fearful for his sanity and safety. The decide to go get him. But, when they arrive, they can’t even get inside because of the crowds. A message finally reaches Jesus that his family is waiting outside for him. And then something strange happens.
Jesus says that the people who do G_d’s will are his family.
Notice what he didn’t say.
He didn’t say Jewish people. Or non-Jewish people. He said, “Whoever...” That’s anybody and everybody. There’s no exclusion here. Anyone can be a follower of Jesus. It doesn’t matter what religious tradition you belong to. It doesn’t matter if you don’t belong to a religious tradition. If you are doing G_d’s will, then you are part of G_d’s family. You are sibling of Jesus.
So, the big question is:
What is G_d’s will?
That’s a great question. And I find it interesting that the disciples didn’t ask it. Jesus answered that question in John’s telling of the Gospel, “This is G_d’s will: that all who see the Son and believe in him will have [aiónios] life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (amended).
As we noted previously, belief in Jesus is tied to our actions. That is, we decide to live the way he lived, because we believe that his way of being human is the better way. The best way, in fact. When we do that, when we “repent” - cast aside our way of being - and take up The Way Jesus exemplified, we will have the life of the ages now, in this world’s realm. The life that fills us up and transcends anything we imagine can be experienced right now. But we have to leave behind our way of doing things; our way of being. That’s not an easy thing. Which is the point of the rest of our story.
Jesus tells a story to help people grasp what he’s talking about. As we find out later, this story represents people who hear and respond to the Gospel, the good news that Jesus was ushering in G_d’s promised Realm. Some people just don’t get it. For a number of reasons, they just can’t grasp that G_d’s Realm is now a present reality. Others get caught up in in the excitement and join in. But once the hardships come, the quickly bail out. Another group sticks it out but soon those in the family become irritants and they can’t seem to see past them - they can’t grow. All they see are the problems and lump the whole thing in as a hopeless, hurtful, place. They suffocate and leave.
But there’s another group. This group hears the story of G_d’s Realm unfolding in history and embraces it. Their eyes are opened and they can see the multitude of G_d’s workers.
Also, I think this can be seen as the stages of spiritual growth. The first stage can be flat out rejection of the things we are being taught. I remember when I was taking a course in the Jewish Scriptures, all of my previous understanding were being shattered at my feet. I just couldn’t believe what they were telling me. It didn’t make any sense at the time. But when I managed to make it through that, I was a little too naive and stopped questioning things they were telling me. So much of it was making sense that I could see how my way of thinking beforehand was so off kilter. But then I hit a huge snag. As my studies continued, the questions the instructors were posing were very uncomfortable for me. There are a handful of things that I think are non-negotiable when it comes to faith. And these teachers were trying to get me to shatter those foundational things. I then felt trapped. Like their plan all along was to choke out any critical thinking on my part just so I could fit into what they thought clergy should be. But, I didn’t throw it all away. I hung in there, loaded with reason and questioning their questions. I have no problem with readdressing my primary positions. However, I can’t, in good conscience, remove some positions and continue call myself a follower of Jesus. During this process, however, I have grown deeper in my understandings and practices. Deeper than I would have ever thought possible before.
Lastly, with the idea of the seeds being stages of spiritual growth, I see them as cyclic, too. That is, those four stages happen over and over again. New thoughts, new teachings pop up and the old ones have to be reassessed. There will be periods of growth and stagnation. But the key, I believe, is too hang on, to continue the journey. If we are truly following Jesus, the Spirit of G_d will lead us deeper into G_d.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.