The Master’s Family
“There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)
In the previous verses (vv. 22-30) we saw our all glorious Savior accused by pompous, self-righteous religionists of being in league with the devil. They said, “He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of devils casteth he out devils.” But the absurd charges and scandalous accusations of the Scribes were not the only trials our Lord had to endure at this time.
In these last verses of chapter 3 we are told that, “His brethren and his mother came, and standing without, sent unto him, calling him.” In these five verses the Son of God identifies himself with his disciples and owns his disciples as his true family. Our Master’s earthly family didn’t understand the beauty of his life, the necessity of his obedience, and the purpose for which he had come into the world.
I do not doubt that they loved him as a brother. I have no doubt that they were, at least somewhat, concerned for his physical welfare. They must have been concerned about him over-exerting himself, not getting enough rest, exposing himself to too much danger. They understood very little, or gave little regard to those words spoken by the Lord Jesus when he was just a boy twelve years old, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) They probably did not understand the implications of their actions recorded in this passage. But these things are written for our learning.
Mary the Sinner
The words of this passage, and the many other passages in the gospel narratives, which identify Mary’s sinfulness and weaknesses in the flesh, were intended by God the Holy Spirit to prevent the idolatrous worship of Mary, which is so much a part of popish idolatry. We recognize, and the Scriptures clearly teach, that our Savior’s human body was conceived in Mary’s virgin womb by the Holy Spirit. But the papists would have us believe that Mary herself was immaculately conceived and that she had no sin. Nothing could be further from the truth.
No doubt, Mary was a woman of honorable character. But she was no more spiritual and holy by nature than Rahab, or you, or me. Mary was the sinful daughter of sinful parents. She was made holy and honorable by the free grace of God in Christ, whom she herself worshipped as her Savior and Lord (Luke 1:46-48).
Mary is to be called “blessed,” because she was and is blessed of God in Christ and for Christ’s sake. But we must never look upon her as being blessed in any way or to any degree, except as she was and is blessed of God in Christ in exactly the same way as all chosen sinners are blessed, eternally and immutably blessed of God in Christ and for Christ’s sake (Ephesians 1:3). Mary was a sinner loved and chosen of God, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and justified, regenerated, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit in exactly the same way we are. She was a sinner saved by grace.
Papists also assert, contrary to the plain statements of Holy Scripture, that Mary’s virginity was perpetual. But this reference to our Savior’s brothers tells us that other sons of Joseph and Mary were born after the Lord Jesus. His younger brothers are named in Matthew 13:55. The papists’ doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, like most of Rome’s teaching, is nothing but religious superstition.
There is no religious practice more completely destitute of biblical foundation than the exaltation and adulation of Mary. The blasphemous practice of offering prayers to Mary are as foolish and idolatrous as offering prayers to me! The only sinless human being ever to live in this world is the sinless Son of God, our Savior. The only Mediator between God and men, by whom and through whom sinners may come to God, is the God-man, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The only human being to whom prayer is to be made and through whom we may hope for grace is that Man who is God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here we see a clear example of the fact that even the best intentions of flesh and blood may often hinder us, as we seek to do the will of God. Regarding spiritual matters, particularly matters of obedience to the will of God, family and friends are never safe guides.
As I said before, our Savior’s family appears to have been concerned for his health and well-being. Perhaps they feared that he was needlessly exposing himself to danger. They must have been aware of the plots of the Scribes, Pharisees, and Herodians to kill him. So they sent a messenger to fetch the Lord Jesus home.
Some read into their words suggestions of impertinence and disrespect. But that does not appear to have been the case at all, especially on Mary’s part. She was, at times, a weak believer; but there is no doubt that she was a genuine believer.
Still, though Mary, and probably our Master’s other family members as well, had only the best of intentions and desired only that which they thought was best for him, they were in no position to make that judgment. This incident is not recorded here by accident. It is written for our learning. Be sure you do not miss the lesson here given by the Spirit of God. In spiritual matters we must not confer with flesh and blood (Galatians 1:16). If we would know the state of our souls, we must not be satisfied with the good opinions of others. If we would know and do the will of God, we must not take into account the desires of our own flesh, the desires of our families, or the counsel of human wisdom.
No one knows the will of God for you in any given area of your life, but you. It is your responsibility to do what you know the Lord would have you to do. Abraham would never have taken Isaac up to Mt. Moriah, if he had consulted with Sarah. Had Moses listened to Zipporah, the Lord would have killed him before he ever got back to Egypt. Nathan would never have taken God’s word to David, if he had considered what the consequences might have been.
In this passage our Lord Jesus exemplifies the fact that the one thing required in all true servants of God is faithfulness. In the face of constant opposition from his enemies and the misguided concerns of those people who were by nature dearest to him, our Savior’s resolve was firm and unrelenting. He had set his face like a flint. He had a baptism to be baptized with and was straitened until it was accomplished. He was determined to fulfil his Father’s will, to finish his work of establishing perfect righteousness for his people, and to drink the cup of wrath as our Substitute upon the cursed tree to satisfy the justice of God for us.
May God give us grace as his people and his servants to be like minded. Let nothing turn you from the narrow way. Have you put your hand to the plow? Let nothing persuade you to look back. Have you entered the race? Look not to the right hand, nor to the left. Look only to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith. If well meaning friends would dissuade you, reply like Nehemiah of old, “I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3). If those who truly love you and truly love Christ would unknowingly turn you aside from doing that which you know to be the will of God, respond as Paul did to his friends, — “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). — “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Keep the eyes of your heart, the eyes of your soul focused upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and the great host of men and women who have gone before us into heaven who were found faithful even unto death (Hebrews 12:1-4).
The Lord our God requires only one thing of us. And the one thing he requires of us is the very least that we can give. Yet, it is the best we can give. God requires faithfulness. May he give us grace to give it. — “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
The Lord Jesus tells us plainly in verses 33-35 that all who are truly his disciples, and only they, are the members of his family.
“And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”
Who can imagine the depth of love our Savior had for his physical family as a man? Who can imagine how he loved that woman who nursed and nurtured him as a baby? Who can imagine how he must have loved his brothers and sisters, those who were born from the same womb as he was? No mortal has ever come close to knowing the affection of Christ’s heart as a man for his aunts, uncles, and cousins. Yet, in comparison to his chosen, in comparison to you and I who believe on his name our Lord Jesus gave no regard to the desires of his own family and dearest kinsmen.
There is great comfort to be found in the things recorded here for every true believer. There is One in heaven, who is both God and man, One who is both bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, who knows us, loves us, cares for us, and counts us to be his own family. We may be poorer than dirt; but we have no cause to be ashamed. We are the brothers and sisters of the Son of God! We may be persecuted and mistreated, even in our own families, because of our faith in him. If that is the case with you, take David’s words for your own, “When my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up” (Psalm 27:10). To be numbered among those who are in this family is to be the object of God’s constant care, the beneficiary of God’s special providence, and an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)
This passage also contains a solemn warning for the persecutors of God’s saints. — All who abuse, harass, and persecute the children of God have reason to tremble. If you are inclined to slander, abuse, malign, or persecute one of God’s children, or one of God’s servants, you would be wise to remember, they are the sons and daughters of God almighty. Those who are the objects of your scorn are the true blood-kin of the Son of God. This is the family of him who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
We have a mighty, mighty Friend, who has sworn that he will avenge his own elect in all things. Our Redeemer is mighty; and he will plead our cause (Proverbs 23:11). The Lord Jesus Christ in heaven always pleads our cause. Let us ever be found faithful in his cause.
Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com