Rev. Rosemary Webb
10th June 2018
True Love

Families we are all part of a family, and this applied to the earthly Jesus, he was born of an earthly family and until the day he re-joined his heavenly Father he had to cope with them and they with him. And as in all families there are days when disagreements arise, when there can be clashes of personality, when however much we love someone we just cannot understand their actions.

You have probably heard me say this before but one such event in my family was caused by a scout camp. My cousin ran home from his first and only camp. You are probably thinking, well I don’t suppose he is the only boy to have done that – no, I am sure you are right, but probably not many had a father who was the District Commissioner. My uncle’s anguish was extreme he felt humiliated but also guilty that he hadn’t listened to my cousin. Perhaps showing that even the most loving parents do not always know what is best for their children.

Isn’t this the same for the family of Jesus. They wanted the best for him, they were sure they knew what was the best, he was their family, they were as one in wanting to protect him. It seemed as if everyone was complaining, their neighbours, but most of all, they feared for his life – the teachers of the law said he was possessed, yes they had good reason to be worried. But in their concern they had forgotten who this brother of theirs was.

For their brother had changed, he was no longer on earth as their brother, but as God. His strange response to who are my mother and brothers, showing us that he knows us all as his family, as the family of God. But to truly be part of his family we must be truly committed to serving God, to doing his will, to loving him with all our hearts and our neighbour as ourselves.

The fact is whilst we must all feel concern for each other we must see it is the context of our Christian lives. Whilst Jesus’ family and neighbours were truly concerned about his wellbeing the Teachers of the Law weren’t. They wanted Jesus out of the way, they feared his popularity, they feared his interpretation of the Scriptures, and most of all they were furious at his lack of respect for them, they wanted rid of him, there could be no doubt. If he didn’t agree with them he must be Satan.

And in that fact there surely is a warning for us today. So many people accuse us of being prejudiced of not loving anyone except ourselves. Why else do we insist that children are taught about Jesus, why else do we want Happy Christmas instead of Seasons Greetings. Why else do we talk about Easter, Crucifixion, Resurrection, it can only be because we want to ensnare people into our prejudiced way of thinking. Just as we know the Teachers of the Law were so wrong so we must always remember that today’s critics of us wrong are wrong, they are as prejudiced as the Jewish teachers of the law.

Jesus proved his critics wrong and how. He withstood barbaric humiliation without losing his temper, his response was to ask God to forgive them, because they didn’t understand what they were doing. As the Son of God he truly knew the will of God.

In the Reading from Corinthians Paul was also trying to give strength to the early church. He talks of the trials of life, of the struggles we can all face, and assures us that in the midst of everything we must take comfort from the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is always with us, surrounding us with God’s love. That whatever we have to cope with, that promise to those who follow Jesus, that promise of salvation, of eternal life, far outweighs our present day stresses.

That we must not look at just what we can see or hear, but at what we cannot see and hear. People may say ‘why doesn’t your God do something abut it’. To which we must answer he does, he reaches out to us through the power of the Holy Spirit, he is here with us now. We must remember that if he was here in person those who are blind couldn’t see him even if they were standing next to him, and likewise if he shouted from the top of a mountain those who are deaf wouldn’t hear him. But through the power of the Spirit we can all see and hear him wherever we are.

As a child I was taught that the only sin which could not be forgiven was to deny the Holy Spirit, and I have heard that explained that it is the willingness to confuse God’s loving, liberating spirit with the imprisoning spirit of evil. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can be free, that if we deny the Holy Spirit we imprison ourselves.

We must not become like the Teachers of the Law in Christ’s time, they knew the scriptures but they did not understand them, they stood next to Jesus, the long awaited Messiah and did not know him, we must take heed of Christ’s words and let the Holy Spirit into our hearts to guide and strengthen us at all time, if we cannot do that we imprison ourselves in the world of fear and loneliness.

Mark 3:20-35