All in the Family
Topic: Biblical Verse: Mark 3:20–3:35
The Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 9-10, 2012
“All in the Family”
With the arrival of the summer season, we’re also heading into prime time for family gatherings and reunions. This is often something that many folks look forward to, but sometimes these reunions can be kind of awkward. Reconnecting with members of our extended family – aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and grandparents, in laws and outlaws – can be a mixed bag. The good news is that we get to spend time with people we don’t get to see that often. The bad news is that we get to spend time with people we don’t get to see that often. Every family has its own cast of interesting characters and oddballs. Think back to Archie and Edith Bunker in the TV sitcom, “All in the Family,” with daughter, Gloria, and son-in-law, Mike (a.k.a., “Meathead”). This was a show that depicted the unvarnished truth of what family can really look like. We get a picture of this in today’s Gospel lesson as Jesus’ family comes together, not just for a reunion but for an intervention! Their misguided mission is to rescue Jesus from himself. People were saying that the teacher from Nazareth was out of his mind. No doubt Jesus’ divine sense of mission, his urgent drive to minister, his failure to eat and sleep properly must have led his family to conclude the same thing. There was even an official delegation from the ruling Council in Jerusalem sent to investigate what was going on. Something had to be done, and so Jesus’ brothers and even his mother come to take him home, by force if necessary. And in the midst of all this family drama, Jesus affirms the truth that contrary to what some are saying that his power to cast out demons comes from the prince of demons, the truth is that this power belongs to God alone. Jesus redefines family as he teaches us that “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). By the grace of God in Jesus Christ, we also are members of Jesus’ family. The message for this day is entitled, “All in the Family.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word, for Jesus’ sake.
Family dysfunction can run deeper than just having a few oddballs and weirdos in the family tree. There can be deep pain, fractured relationships, and terrible secrets within our families. People can bear these crushing burdens for years, trapped in a destructive downward cycle, even going to their graves without experiencing the blessing of God’s forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace. Where does all of this come from? We get at the origins of this in today’s first reading (Genesis 3:8-15) with our first parents in the Garden of Eden. Having disobeyed God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they then hide from the Lord God, refusing to take responsibility for their sin. They blame each other, the snake, even God himself. And so that recurring pattern of sin was set in place that we still live with today: disobedience to God’s will, self over others, avoidance and hiding, stubborn refusal to be held accountable. We live in a world wracked by sin and its effects: in our individual lives, in our families, in our communities. Our entire world is shrouded in this thing called sin. And yet even as Adam and Eve were still digesting that forbidden fruit they had just eaten, God makes an amazing promise: “I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). God here promises that the deceiving power of the father of lies will be crushed. At the right time, the God-appointed time, the offspring of the woman would do this: “In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5a). Jesus, born of Mary, Son of God and Son of man, is the One who did this. The Lord God’s question to Adam and Eve is one He still asks of us today: “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). God continues to seek and search for his lost children, and has sent his only Son to rescue us. He is the One who entered the house of that strong man, bound him, and plundered his goods. He suffered the punishment that should have been ours, and died the death we deserved. He paid the penalty not only for Adam and Eve’s disobedience, but ours also. Through the cleansing blood of Jesus shed for us, we look ahead to what is yet to be when the complete victory of Jesus will be fully and finally revealed. With joyful hope, we say confidently with Paul as he writes in today’s Epistle reading: “… we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence” (2 Corinthians 4:14).
Things can get turned around within the family. Here in the Gospel lesson for today, the leaders of God’s family, the sons and daughters of Abraham, attribute the healing and liberating ministry of Jesus to demonic power. Those who charge Jesus with demonic possession see light as darkness, goodness as evil, and so have closed themselves to the action of the Holy Spirit. This, Jesus says, is the sin against the Holy Spirit, for which there is no forgiveness. This is a matter with eternal consequences, and it is so serious that Jesus begins with that solemn declaration: “Truly, I say to you…” Within the family of faith today, brothers and sisters in Christ sometimes struggle with whether they have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit. A person so insensitive to the Spirit that he attributes what is of God to demonic power will not even be conscious of this ultimate sin. To anyone who is overwhelmed by fear that he or she has committed the sin against the Holy Spirit, the fact that he or she is so troubled is itself a sure proof that they have not committed it. Because we’re all in the family – the family of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior – we support, encourage, and bear with one another.
The new family that Jesus called into being is rooted and demonstrated in radical obedience. It begins with Jesus himself who “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Notice how the Gospel lesson for today ends: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). Not whoever thinks about the will of God, or whoever talks about the will of God, but whoever does the will of God. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we who are all in the family of God, this is our calling: to do the will of God. Amen.