Rev. Rosemary Webb
7th June 2015

Families, whether we like it or not, we are all part of a family. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and fortunately most are loving and caring, but tragically some are abusive and dysfunctional, however they are still a family. Also however loving a family there can be one member who never quite fits in and of course many children go through phases when either mum or dad is an embarrassment.

I can still vividly remember walking into Woolworths here in Redhill many years ago when our three were young. I was chatting away merrily when suddenly I heard. shush, be quiet mum. What’s the matter I said, talk quietly I’m ordered, you have a loud voice which goes round corners and so and so is in here and we don’t want to have to spend hours talking to her. If you stop talking she may not see us, but at that moment she saw us!

In the passage we have just heard Jesus was drawing the crowds to him by his preaching, but far from being impressed his family were aghast, what was their brother doing? Their neighbours were complaining, the teachers of the law said he was possessed by Beelzebub. They feared for his life, what if the whole crowd turned against him. They knew he was called by God, but should it be that this, they were most probably acting out of love, but of course it was misguided.

But the reaction of the teachers was not out of any kind of love, but out of fear. They were not concerned with Christ’s safety, they were concerned about their own position in society, how the people listened to them. How dare Jesus show such a disregard for them and their tradition. Basically who does he think he is. They are jealous of his popularity; they are determined to put an end to his ministry. They didn’t doubt he had some form of power, but they doubted its source. But more than that they knew they were right, they knew the law, the Torah, there could be no doubt about it.

Of course, as we know the tragedy was that they did know the Hebrew Scriptures, but because they had a preconceived idea of what the Messiah would be like, they were unable to see that what they were witnessing was the fulfilment of the scriptures, of all the Old Testament prophesies. They knew they were part of God’s family, that they were the chosen people – they had all the knowledge but they lacked understanding, they couldn’t see the true meaning of the words.

And that can still apply to the Church today, for all our apparent knowledge; we can still fail to see Jesus as he truly is. There are still people who feel they wouldn’t be welcome in church because they think they are sinners. It surely is time that people realise we are all sinners; there is only one person who has walked this earth who wasn’t and that is Christ.

We teach that Christ died on the Cross for our Salvation, that all sins can be forgiven, we only have to turn to God and seek forgiveness, and we need to remember that Christ never turned anyone away who came to him for healing. There are still people who think divorce, their sexuality, something they may have done in the past means they are not welcome in church. But that is not what Christ taught he taught the only sin which cannot be forgiven is blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, but he also taught that whoever turned to God, and seeks forgiveness will also be forgiven.

In the reading from Corinthians Paul talks of the trials of life, of the struggles we can all face, but offers the assurance that in the midst of everything we can take comfort through the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is with us, will never leave us, is always surrounding us with love. That whatever happens in life, the promise of salvation of eternal life far outweighs the struggles we may face.

People may ask why Jesus didn’t stay on earth, why God instead sent the Holy Spirit who we can neither physically see or hear. Surely the answer to that is that the Holy Spirit is totally inclusive. The blind couldn’t see Jesus, the deaf couldn’t hear him and he could only be in one place at a time, but the Holy Spirit is everywhere and can communicate at all times with all people. The Spirit is always alongside all of us all the time, he is here now in this place, when he get home he is there also, and more than that we can always feel his love in our hearts.

Towards the end of the Gospel while Jesus was still speaking he was told that his mothers and brothers had arrived, and he gave that rather strange reply, which could seem unloving and uncaring ‘who are my mother and brothers?’ I don’t believe in any way was he denying his love for them, more that he was teaching that he is God and as God he is the Father of us all and loves us all equally, he has no favourites.

Jesus was moving from being the son of Mary, to living as the Son of Man, the Good Shepherd, drawing all people to him. His ministry had truly begun and he was taking the opportunity of teaching what is involved in a true relationship with him. To be able to enter into that close relationship we have to do God’s will, it is a total commitment, we have to demonstrate a total loyalty and devotion to him. And I don’t believe that means constant criticism of others, of thinking ourselves better than others. It means accepting not just others weaknesses but our own also, it means praying for the strength to overcome, to being open with God, to live as true disciples.

Our own earthly families like Jesus’ may try and dictate to us, tell us what we should do. God never dictates to us he gave us freedom of choice, he loves us, all he asks is that we lead our lives loving him and loving our neighbours as ourselves.

Heavenly Father give us the strength to see you as you really are, not as we think you are.

Mark 3 :20 – 35