And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Mark 3:31-34
We are Family!
Believe it or not, the arguments around Mary go back way beyond the Reformation, sixteen centuries in fact. It was called the Theotokos (Θεοτόκος) controversy and was supposedly “settled” at the Council of Ephesus in 431AD when Mary was declared the “God-bearer” (Theo-tokos). Note: This fight was really about Jesus’ divinity, not Mary.
Over the centuries, some developed a theology surrounding Mary (Mariology), elevating her to superhuman status. Some even believe Mary has a share in redemption, a role as a mediator of grace, and perpetual virginity. Yet none of this can be supported by scripture.
Now don’t get me wrong; Mary was one extraordinary lady. Imagine being chosen by God to be the one to carry the Christ child in her body for nearly ten months, all along facing ridicule in a shame culture. I have preached that her submission to this task and acceptance of the angel’s words makes her the first Christian to profess Christ and an excellent role model of faith. But it also makes sense that Joseph and she would go on to have other children after Jesus’ birth.
Now to today’s scripture. Mary and his “brothers” show up in the crowd. (Matthew 13:54-55 names the brothers and mentions unnamed sisters.) When Jesus is told, he takes the opportunity to change and expand his definition of family to include all of the people present around him. Because he makes this contrast when expanding the definition of family, I favor that he had blood brothers, not just a metaphor describing his male followers.
Jesus’ expansion of the definition is by no means a denial of his blood relatives, but a hope-filled acceptance statement that the Son of Man has come to all, and he sees us all as family and expects us to do likewise.
Chipster, Sir Knight, and T.O. are my brothers and sister by blood, and I love them. But I also serve a community of people who are my sisters and brothers too. I even have some “moms” and “dads” in the church who check in on me now and then to see how I’m doing; one of them just turned 103! But this doesn’t mean that my Mom wasn’t my mom, or my Dad isn’t my dad.
Thank you for teaching us that our family is way bigger than we can possibly imagine.
I pray this in the name of Christ. Amen!