In this three part series, discover how Jesus redefines our view of family.
A few months ago, I shared my testimony with a group of women. After our time was over, my friend Shannon approached me, asking how my “family situation” was going. I’ve known Shannon for seven years, so she was confused by my happy recollection that concluded with a tidy bow.
I had just spent ten minutes answering questions about what formed and shaped me as a woman of faith, yet one of the hardest struggles of my life, one that I am currently wading through still to this minute, was not mentioned. Why is that?
Because families are dysfunctional. All of them.
I should have shared that my dad was diagnosed with dementia at a very early age, just after he retired, about five years ago. I should have told them that it got really bad right at two years ago. My sister wanted me to move back to East Texas to take care of him as his sole provider so we wouldn’t have to transfer Daddy into a memory care facility.
I was chosen because I am not married, I don’t have kids, and I don’t have a real job.
I said no.
My sister and brother-in-law were appalled by my behavior. Why would I choose to leave my family in their time of need? How could I be so selfish?
I stood my ground.
I organized my father’s move to a memory care facility. Then, when I left the house in July of 2020 to return to Houston, my brother-in-law looked me in the eyes and told me I would never be coming back.
To this day, I haven’t been inside my parents’ home.
My sister and I rarely speak. And because of our strained relationship, things are delicate with our mother. I desire peace and need everyone to be okay. But I’m practicing what my counselor calls “boundaries.”
When we think about the word family, the immediate father, mother, and sibling unit come to mind. But when we read Mark 3, Jesus expands that tradition to include many layers. In this series, we will be breaking down the term “family” to represent your given family, your chosen family, your church family, and your heavenly Father.
To begin, let’s look at Mark 3:20-21. Here we get a peek into Jesus’ given family.
“Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him.”
How many of you ever think about Jesus being the oldest brother of siblings? Have you stopped to consider that His family thought He was out of His mind? They didn’t believe!
Consider what’s been happening in the previous months. Jesus’ popularity is skyrocketing. He’s casting out demons left and right and healing people non-stop. Folks are coming from hundreds of miles away for their chance at a miracle. Once Christ’s fame reaches tiny little Nazareth, His brothers probably assume He has started a cult.
Jesus’ followers are outcasts. He’s challenging the norms of religious traditions. He’s calling Himself the ultimate authority. As a result, people leave their jobs and sell their possessions to follow Him.
The Gospel of John confirms Jesus’ siblings’ unbelief in Chapter 7. Scripture doesn’t tell us why, but isn’t it interesting that Jesus’ brothers didn’t buy into His Messiahship? Let’s imagine what it was like growing up with Jesus.
Obviously, Jesus was brilliant. He was literally THE PERFECT brother. He never fought or said anything wrong or did anything naughty. Who hit Jude with an olive press? You can’t blame Jesus! Were you promoted at your job? Great. Jesus turned water into wine. Who can compete with that?!
When given the choice of labeling Jesus as Lord, liar, or lunatic, His own brothers are recorded in Scripture (Mark 3:20) as saying, “He’s out of His mind.”
Does this truth make you think twice about your family members who may not believe? Jesus knew what you were going through! Take His brother, James, for instance.
Jesus played ball with James. He slept in the bed with him, passed the hummus at dinner, prayed over him, walked alongside him, and endured his unbelief. Ultimately, Jesus paid the debt of James’s sin and then brought him to faith.
You see, the James we turn to in the back of our Bible is neither of the disciples. It’s Jesus’ brother. A man of prayer. A supporter of Paul. One who came to Christ after Jesus’ ascension.
Jesus’ entire ministry was carried through without the support of His nuclear family. Does that blow your mind? Does that offer you some relief? Whether your family is openly against you, dynamically healthy, or painfully hurtful, our identity is not rooted in them.
It certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t love and care for them. I’m sure Jesus prayed for His family. He wanted nothing more than to see them in heaven!
But He found the support He needed in another way. He chose His family.
Lincee Ray is an accidental blogging superstar, thanks to a little show called The Bachelor. Yes, the reality phenomenon is the opposite of quality television, but it did lead her to sweet writing gigs with Entertainment Weekly online and the Associated Press. Lincee is an active speaker, the author of two books (Why I Hate Green Beans and It’s a Love Story), the host of the pop culture podcast I Hate Green Beans, and can be found rambling on her website where she reminds women that it’s important to tell your story—even if it makes you seem a little crazy.