Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters[c] are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
In the concluding episode of chapter 3 we are reminded that the family of Jesus is still in his midst. We are still at “home” with Jesus. They send word into the house that they want to see him or speak with him.
They initially came to see him (3:21) in order to “restrain him” because folks were saying that Jesus had “gone out of his mind.” They react in a reasonable way. They want to protects a family member, or at least the family reputation. Jesus is drawing a massive amount of attention - from large crowds to heated and tension filled exchanges with the ruling authorities.
Kinship (family relationships) worked differently in antiquity. In our modern, individualistic society - where we are taught that anyone can make something of themselves regardless of background or family - we can miss the radical break that Jesus is making.
Chen Myers describes kinship as the “axis of the social world in antiquity.” He continues - “The extended family structure determined personality and identity, controlled vocational prospects, and most importantly facilitated socialization. For Mark, then, kinship is the backbone of the very social order Jesus is struggling to overturn, which explains his utter disinterest in Jesus’ family line (Myers, 168).”
Jesus breaks with the model for family in his time and redefines what family is based on his mission and ministry. He re-frames the family unit as those who “do the will of God (v.35).” Those gathered around him, those who have heard the call and aligned their lives with the kingdom of God, are his new family. And the new family of us who hear the call in our lives to day.
“The fundamental unit of ‘resocialization’ into the kingdom will be the new family, the community of discipleship (Myers, 168).”
Questions for Modern Day Disciples
- How do we re-imagine our own familial/social context through the lens of the Gospel?
- Do we recognize the “new family” of discipleship in others - especially those of different contextual and cultural backgrounds.