O6052021 – Mark 3. 20-35
This is “a literary style.” It has been called by various names. “BOOK ENDS” or “SANDWICHING” comes to mind.
It begins with Jesus’ family coming to “RESTRAIN him.” But “that story” is interrupted by still ANOTHER STORY about some SCRIBES coming down from Jerusalem. And then, ultimately, we go back to the ORIGINAL story and its COMPLETION. A “FRAMING DEVICE” is another way of explaining it…or very simply, “a story within a story.”
BOTH STORIES are important and both stories “play off” of each other. They are intertwined, interwoven, and knit together…as one.
Mark liked this “literary device” and uses it a couple of times. I love the story for a lot of different reasons.
In ANTIQUITY, family meant everything. It was the source of your STATUS “in the surrounding community.”
But it also functioned as the primary ECONOMIC, RELIGIOUS, EDUCATIONAL, and SOCIAL network for the individual. Family was (well) simply- put-everything!
For anyone to LEAVE family was considered both DANGEROUS and SUSPICIOUS. Why would anybody DO that? Why would you WANT to?
Not only was family your KEY SOCIAL SUPPORT but it was also your KEY SOCIAL OBLIGATION.
You were obliged, expected, required, compelled, and morally bound, to stay with your family.
To leave them, was to SHAME THEM and to shame YOURSELF forever for leaving. FOR-EVER!
And Jesus’ family came to “RESTRAIN him,” because people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”
“To GO TO HIM,” was about “protecting THEM and THEIR reputations,” as much as it was to “protect HIM.” It was to PREVENT FURTHER SHAME and further finger-pointing and accusation. It was proactive.
Jesus had gone off the deep end. He was crazy. A crackpot. A madman. A psychopath. Demented and deranged. Berserk. A nut job. A misfit. Insane. He was “suspect.” Out of his mind. Gone!
The things he was doing and saying…were “NOT normal.” He was an embarrassment to his family. People were saying he was “a few tomatoes short of a salad.” Insidious words were coming from his mouth…and devious accusations were being made “about him.”
He was OBSESSED, CONSUMED, HAUNTED, TORMENTED, and PLAGUED with this whole “God thing.” He was unduly excited and overwrought by it…he was beside himself. And somebody had to do something. So, his FAMILY reacted…and stepped in.
Family is (as much) a foundational concept in the Bible as is, anything else.
The Bible begins with Genesis, and not with talk about “the strongest nations” or “the great tribes of this earth,” but with THE FAMILY…the human family.
Big families, humongous families, real families, totally dysfunctional families, stories about families and individuals that you would never have thought – would have MADE IT INTO the BIBLE…and yet, somehow, they did!
Everything is addressed. Everything is on the table. Biblical misfits are a real thing. And nothing is swept under the carpet or under the table.
And once more – we meet the radical Jesus…who DOES NOT BACK DOWN!
He goes toe-to-toe with the Scribes of Jerusalem, and no doubt, sends them scurrying back from whence they came.
And he takes on his own family, at the same time. They are worried, embarrassed, and scared for him. He gets it! They know that because of his actions, because of his rhetoric, things may not end well for Jesus.
Jesus knows that, too!
He knows “how badly” it just might turn out…that old “worst case scenario…”
So, what does he do? Much to the surprise of practically everyone?
He OPENS UP THE TENT FLAPS…and allows everyone who wants to enter – the chance to enter.
You wanna come in…come in.
You wanna stay out…stay out.
“Come, do the WILL of MY FATHER.”
Listen to him.
Walk with him.
WHATEVER YOU DO…Do NOT harass, persecute, coerce, annoy, or try to bully others…rather, allow them IN…make your circle bigger…do not exclude others, include them, if they desire to come in…
Jesus’ family is an OPEN FAMILY. The door to the family homestead is always unlocked…and YOU are welcome.
Come, JOIN the family. Are we NOT all brothers and sisters anyway? Amen.