Jesus undeterred by misunderstandings

Posted Feb 24, 2018

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Daily Scripture

Mark 3:20-35

20 Jesus entered a house. A crowd gathered again so that it was impossible for him and his followers even to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they came to take control of him. They were saying, “He’s out of his mind!”

22 The legal experts came down from Jerusalem. Over and over they charged, “He’s possessed by Beelzebul. He throws out demons with the authority of the ruler of demons.”

23 When Jesus called them together he spoke to them in a parable: “How can Satan throw Satan out? 24 A kingdom involved in civil war will collapse. 25 And a house torn apart by divisions will collapse. 26 If Satan rebels against himself and is divided, then he can’t endure. He’s done for. 27 No one gets into the house of a strong person and steals anything without first tying up the strong person. Only then can the house be burglarized. 28 I assure you that human beings will be forgiven for everything, for all sins and insults of every kind. 29 But whoever insults the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. That person is guilty of a sin with consequences that last forever.” 30 He said this because the legal experts were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”

31 His mother and brothers arrived. They stood outside and sent word to him, calling for him. 32 A crowd was seated around him, and those sent to him said, “Look, your mother, brothers, and sisters are outside looking for you.”

33 He replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Looking around at those seated around him in a circle, he said, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers. 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother, sister, and mother.”

Reflection Questions

Jesus should have had a perfect family life, right? But Mark said his mother and brothers came to “take control” of him, fearing he’d lost his mental balance. The religious leaders went further, claiming Jesus was in league with the ruler of demons. Jesus’ response in verses 29-30 was forceful, but it was an ugly charge: “Attributing the Holy Spirit’s work to an impure spirit (v. 30) is roughly tantamount to calling God Satan.”* And family is important, but on this occasion Jesus reminded his hearers that family is not God. Maybe even without realizing it, some families demand that all family members agree, or avoid embarrassing the family. But Jesus said our highest loyalty is to God and who God calls us to be, even beyond our family.

  • How could Jesus’ mother have so drastically misjudged her son’s actions to carry out his mission? Have your parents ever misunderstood you, or you misunderstood your children or siblings? How can you offer wisdom and support to people you love, and yet not try to heavy-handedly control their lives? Jesus was serious about his bond with those who do God’s will. How can faith and shared life with God create ties as close as, or closer than, those we share with family? Do you have any added “family members” because you share in God’s family? How can giving Jesus your first loyalty make you, in the end, a better family member than ignoring your true self to “get along”?


Lord Jesus, it must have hurt to have your family think you were out of your mind. You kept on loving them, even when you had to act in ways they didn’t like or understand. Help me find that same balance in my earthly relationships. Amen.

Family Activity

Mark was one of Jesus’ earliest followers. Jesus asked His followers long ago and today to treat others the way He did. As a family, discuss how you would respond in these scenarios:

  • A new person comes to your Sunday school class and doesn’t know anyone.
  • The person in front of you at the grocery store drops a dollar.
  • Your neighbor is an older woman and lives alone. After a storm, all her trash cans fall over.

Talk together about ways to respond as followers of Christ in each of these situations. This week ask each other, “How did you follow Jesus today? Did you ignore any chance to serve? How can you do a better job being kind to others tomorrow?” Pray together and ask God to help you be a faithful follower of Jesus this Lenten season and always.

* HarperCollins Christian Publishing. NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Kindle Locations 226134-226135). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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Steve Langhofer

Steve Langhofer

Steve is a Congregational Care Pastor at Resurrection Leawood.

It’s been said we don’t get to pick our family—we’re born into it. It was no different with Jesus. His family didn’t see what others saw in him. They misunderstood his mission. They didn’t catch his vision. It must have weighed heavy on his heart.

So he enlarged his family, adopted a new one. “Those who seek God above all, from now on, will be my sisters and brothers.” Did he abandon biological kin? No, surely he loved them still. He redefined himself. He stayed in relationship while setting himself apart.

Prayer: Thank You, God, for being who You are, and how You are. Thank You for Your patience when we misunderstand who You’re calling us to be. Thank You for enabling us to differentiate ourselves, to stand apart from those we love while remaining grounded in our union. Even as Jesus did. Amen.

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