A devotional from Central Presbyterian Church. Find another day’s devotional here.
Friday, September 18, 2020
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
As we dive head-long into welcoming another child to our family through international adoption, things have been a little more complicated than I initially anticipated. Obviously, even though, according to UNICEF, there are over 150 million orphans worldwide, you can’t just pick up the phone and tell someone that you will take one and have them dropped off at your door the next day. Long before being found eligible to care for an orphaned child there is a lengthy application, evaluation, and review process full of paperwork, personal references, counseling, education, and all sorts of other bureaucratic hoops to jump through used by both non-profit adoption agencies and their corresponding governmental departments. The hope, of course, is that everyone involved does their due diligence to not only properly determine a family’s ability and capacity to deal with the needs of the child but also to be as prepared as possible to handle the additional stress and strain (financially, emotionally, socially, and spiritually) that comes along with that adorable little girl or, in our case, boy. Adoption is unique from the more typical method of adding to a family because the adopting parents explicitly make a decision and commitment to not just have a child, but to bring a particular child of their choosing into their lives forever and love them as their own flesh and blood. The incredible thing is that, at least in our case, the child does not share our DNA, does not know that anyone is pursuing them, is completely unaware that we even exist, and yet is about to have the entire trajectory of his life forever changed, all the while having absolutely no say in the matter at all.
As Mark mentions earlier in chapter 3, the family of Jesus truly loved and cared for Him, but they also believed He was going crazy. When Mary and His brothers heard about the massive crowds gathering around Jesus and the rumors spread by the Pharisees that He was dabbling in the occult and claiming to forgive sins, they attempted to come and remove Jesus from the mayhem and help Him come to His senses. So they gathered outside the house where He was ministering and passed word through the crowd that they wanted to speak to Him privately.
In the first century, the nuclear family was of the utmost importance, so although the crowd was making demands upon Jesus, they recognized that the request of His mother and younger brothers superseded even His desires, which makes what happened next all the more startling. Rather than leaving the crowd to speak with them privately or commanding that the masses make room so that they could be brought to Him, Jesus responds, by saying, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then He pointed to the crowd and said, “You are! If you do the will of God, you are my brother and sister and mother.”
We can only imagine the disbelief and disappointment Mary must have felt when she heard Jesus’ response. Mary vividly remembered the announcement of the angel, the faithfulness of Joseph, the arduous journey to Bethlehem, the unorthodox birthing location immediately followed by the arrival of bewildered shepherds, the gifts of the magi, and the harrowing escape to Egypt. She had watched her promised child, who was to be the Holy Son of the Most High, who would reign over the house of Jacob forever, learn to crawl and walk and talk and transform from a helpless infant into the protector and provider of His family. Like the crowds and the disciples Mary had great hopes for her son, that He would liberate His people from the oppressive Romans and restore peace to His land. But now here He was with a bounty on His head, attracting the wrong types of people and the wrong sort of attention, defying her pleas and denying her very existence.
Even though they were the biological family of Jesus, Mary’s and Jesus’ younger brothers’ ignorance of the true identity and mission of Jesus revealed that they were not yet members in the family of God. Although no-one knew Jesus better than His mother, even she did not yet understand who He really was. Jesus had not come to overthrow the oppressive yoke of the Romans, but to wage war against the ultimate enemy, sin and death. His throne would not be in Jerusalem, or in Rome, but in heaven. He would submit not to the commands of His earthly mother, but to the will of His Father in Heaven, and His perfect obedience would result in bringing many sons and daughters into His forever Family.
Our status in the family of God has nothing to do with where we are born or the name we are given, but everything to do with the choice of the Father and the Son. Scripture uses the imagery of adoption to help us understand that we bring nothing to the table except for our need, and all that is required of us to join the family of Jesus is to receive His free gift of grace. Jesus tells us that as members of His family we live in the freedom of His unconditional love and should take joy and delight in doing whatever He requests of us. Quite often we act like children by failing to recognize that His will is for our ultimate good and we disobey and even deny His authority, but the good news is that once we belong to Him, we belong to Him forever.
Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, we thank You that you choose us. By receiving your gift of grace and acknowledging Your Lordship, You promise that we can be a part of Your forever family. We thank You for all that You have done to open the door and make the way that we can be with and enjoy You forever. We pray in Your most excellent name, Amen.