← back to list

Apr 17, 2016

Who Are My Mother and Brothers?

Passage: Mark 3:20-35

Speaker: Scott Jeffreys

Series: Mark: An Action Packed Gospel

When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (v.21)

Literally in the Greek, v. 21 reads, “those of him (meaning his family) went to seize him, believing that Jesus had gone berserk.”    

Why do they think he is crazy? It is one thing for the religious establishment to think you have lost it, it’s quite another for your own family think you’ve gone berserk.

He is Crazy

A look back at all that Mark has recorded in his gospel to this point will give us some idea as to why even his own family thinks Jesus has flipped.

Perhaps disappearing for 40 days on a mountain with nothing to eat and drink to be tempted by Satan struck his family as a bit extreme.

Then there is Jesus calling people to follow him- not God, but HIM. A religiously faithful Jew would never follow a person, only God. But maybe, just maybe, in a backhanded way, Jesus is claiming to be God. If there was any question about who he was claiming to be it certainly went out the window when the paralytic was lowered through the roof by his two friends in order to be healed by Jesus. The first thing Jesus said to him was, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

When the religious leaders in the house heard that they went ballistic. You can’t say that! “This man is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They were right. Only God can forgive sins, and maybe, just maybe, that is who Jesus is. He is God come down to us in human flesh. But understandably to his family, they thought he was crazy. After all, it’s not every day that someone claims to be God!

Besides, if he were God then what is he doing playing around with the rule book? He is working on the Sabbath. A violation of the fourth commandment, supposedly. Jesus ought to know better. No healing on the Sabbath, no walking too far, and no picking grain. If he really is who he says he is- God in human flesh- he would not be doing these things!

And look at those people he is calling to follow him. He went to Matthew’s house, a tax collector and traitor who ripped off his own people (the Jews) and stood in cahoots with the Roman Empire. And look at those people who came to Matthew’s conversion party! IRS agents, adulterers, prostitutes, and thieves. Jesus is eating with them! He is an embarrassment not only to the church but our family.

No wonder they think he has lost his marbles. If you were Jesus’ mother or father, brother or sister, wouldn’t you think he was crazy?

Possessed by the Devil?

So crazy that he even might be possessed by Beelzebub?

Beelzebub is a Greek word that is a pun on the Jewish word Baal-Zebul, which means “Baal-prince.” Baal was one of the main Canaanite gods that the Jewish people were commanded by Yahweh, the LORD, to avoid when they entered the Promised Land.

Do you remember the great showdown between Elijah the prophet and the prophets of Baal in the OT?

Elijah said to the prophets of Baal let us both make a sacrifice to our respective Gods. I’ll call on Yahweh and your prophets call on Baal and we will see which sacrifice gets consumed. Elijah then doused his sacrifice in water to prove his point all the more and he called on Yahweh while the prophets of Baal cried out to Baal. The prophets of Baal begged for Baal to consume their offering to no avail but Yahweh, the LORD, consumed Elijah’s offering. Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal for Baal’s silence. Yahweh won and the prophets of Baal left with their tails tucked between their legs.

None the less, Baal-Zebul, prince of Baal, eventually began to be mocked by the Jews as Beelzebub, which means “Lord of the Flies,” or “Lord of the Dung Heap.” It was derogatory term. So if you are ever camping way out in the woods and you have to go you know what will show up within a few seconds. Gold back flies. This is what the teachers of the law were saying when they called Jesus Beelzebub. I wonder if some in his family believed that about him as well.

A Parable about the Unforgivable Sin

Anyway, Jesus disposes of such tom-foolery by telling a parable.

How can Satan drive out Satan? If I am driving out demons by the prince of demons, is that not self-defeating? If it is the devil’s goal to destroy a man why would the devil himself cast out one of his own demons? The charge is utterly absurd. For Satan to work against himself by casting out demons is to destroy his own kingdom!

Actually the reason I was able to cast demons out is because I entered the strong man’s house (the abode of Satan) and I tied the devil up. So it’s not me who has lost my mind but it is you! How could you say something so foolish, that it is by the power of Satan that I cast out the devil’s demons? A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand!

Jesus then throws a counter punch that is even more serious than the one the teachers of the law threw at him.

Jesus says to them that by attributing his work, which is literally the work of God, to the work of the devil, they are guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. And that is the most serious of sins.

All sins are not equal. Again let me repeat all sins is not equal.

All sin, even the slightest of sin, is equally sufficient to condemn us, but all sin is not equal. Some sins are more severe than others and there is no sin more severe than blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because that is the one sin that cannot be forgiven. “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemies against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (v.28)

That’s good news for he sinner. God can forgive all sin in Christ, except one. Lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, lust, sloth, murder, violence, cursing, deception, greed, selfishness, and even self-righteousness God can forgive- which is probably second in rank to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

There is nothing you have done or have become as a person that God cannot forgive except this one sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and that is good news! But for these teachers of the law they were in trouble. Their sin was an eternal sin of damnation.

Who Is My True Family?

But back to the story. The family arrives. Jesus’ mother and brother have come to rescue their berserk son and brother. The crowd in the house informs Jesus that his mother and brother are outside.

In response, Jesus says, “Who are my mother and brothers?” And then he looks at those in the house “seated in a circle next to him” and he says to them, “Here are my mother and brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and mother.” (v. 34)

Who were those people seated in the circle? They were his disciples and because they were disciples of Jesus they were, by default, disciples of God since Jesus is God come down to us in human flesh.

There many truths when learn from this text.

First, as much we may love our biological families, ultimately there is one family that is more important and will outlast and transcend our blood line families. It is the family of God, the body of Christ.

Only this family will last for eternity. As hard as it may be for us to believe, followers of Jesus have more in common with a brother and sister in the church (isn’t that what Christians called one another in the NT) than we do with a biological family member who blasphemes the Holy Spirit.

You are going to spend an eternity in heaven in God’s Kingdom with all of your brothers and sisters in Christ, be they black, white, Asian, African, Middle-eastern, male, female, young, old, rich, poor, alive today or died 10 years ago, who were redeemed by Jesus and who trusted in for the forgiveness of sins and life with God, but that is not guaranteed for all of our blood line relatives.

So the only family that matters in the end is whether not we are in the family of God. If we are in God’s family then we are God’s sons and daughters and other fellow believers, those are alive now, who died yesterday and will be born tomorrow- are our brothers and sisters!

But what about Jesus’ biological family? Did they blaspheme the Holy Spirit? At this point in the story his family thought our Lord had gone off the deep end but did they blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

Maybe some of his brothers and sisters did blaspheme the Holy Spirit (we do not know) but we do know that at bare minimum, his mother Mary did not blaspheme the Holy Spirit, nor did least two of his biological brothers. His brother James became an apostle in the early church and wrote the book of James and his brother Jude wrote that last little letter in the NT before the big book of Revelation.

So it is likely (as it is with most families) that some of Jesus’ biological family believed, and some didn’t, even if most of them did.


None the less, the point still stands… the only family that will last is the family of God, the Body of Christ, and our true brothers and sisters are those who serve the Lord Jesus and seek to follow him in this life in the here and now. The family of God is our true family and it’s the only one guaranteed to last throughout eternity.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.