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Who are My Mother and My Brothers?
Text: Mark 3:7-35
Overview: Jesus’s ministry begins to expand numerically and geographically as crowds of people are drawn to his healing power, teaching ability, and divine authority. In order to meet the demands of an expanding ministry, Jesus appoints twelve apostles who will learn from Him, speak on His behalf, and confront evil in His name. The fact that these apostles would meet with various degrees of success in their subsequent ministries indicates that Jesus’s new movement ultimately rested on His shoulders. His ministry would continue to expand despite betrayal from a friend, misunderstanding by His family, and false accusations by outsiders. This text leaves us with the understanding that neither following Jesus from a distance nor claiming to know Him through family ties is sufficient for having a relationship with God—we must see Jesus for who He is and order our lives around His agenda.
01. If you are part of the crowd following Jesus at a distance, be sure to connect the works of Jesus with the claims about Jesus in order to help you commit your life to Jesus.
02. If you are part of the culture opposing Jesus at every turn, be sure to consider the words of Jesus within the stories about Jesus in order to help you appreciate the real Jesus.
03. If you are part of the church serving Jesus at every opportunity, be sure to continue loving Jesus by learning from Jesus in order to help you enjoy the family of Jesus.
Questions for Discussion and Discovery
1. Mark refers to the crowds several times in our passage (3:7, 8, 9, 20, 32), and he notes that they came from many different areas (3:7-8). Since there was no social media back then, how do you suppose people heard about Jesus’s ministry? In what ways does sharing our personal testimony reflect this same model of evangelism?
2. Without looking at other texts or any other reference work, discuss what you know about the lives of the apostles listed in 3:16-19. Which of the apostles stand out the most, and for what reasons? Which of the apostles seems less familiar to you? What does this lack of information suggest about how God works through people in the church?
3. Why did Jesus’s family believe that he was “out of his mind” (3:21)? What do you suppose they intended to say to Him as they tried to “seize” Him? Have your friends or family ever said the same about you because of your commitment to Christ? If not, why not?
4. Note the foolish logic from the scribes as they assessed Jesus’s ministry (3:22-26). Why were their assessments at that particular time in history so heinous as to be unforgivable (3:28-30)? In other words, if they saw with their own eyes what God was doing through His Son and still believed that it was the work of the devil, was there anything else that would possibly change their minds?
5. When Jesus defines his family as the ones who do the will of God (3:34-35), He is not dishonoring His mother (Mary) or His brothers, but rather highlighting the new community that God is creating. How has your family responded to your commitment to Christ? In what ways do you seek to honor your family through your commitment to Christ?
For Further Reading: John Stott, Basic Christianity (InterVarsity Press, 1958; Eerdman’s 3rd ed. 2017)