Jesus' Kingdom Kindred
Give us ears to hear Your Word today.
Convict our hearts.
And transform our lives by Your grace
that we may live according to Your will.
Some of you may know the Bill Gather song, “Family of God”. It begins:
I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God, I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood! Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, For I'm part of the family, The Family of God.
I was reminded of this song as I studied our passage at the end of Mark chapter 3. Let me read the text for us and as I do I want you to have two questions running through your mind: 1) Am I a part of the family of God? And 2) How can I know that I am part of His family?
For context, I want to read verse 20 and 21 and then jump down to verses 31 through 35 in Mark 3.
Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
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! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus’ physical family finally arrive in Capernaum. Because of the crowd they were unable to reach Jesus inside the house and they have to send someone in who relayed a message to Jesus.
And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.”
We know, based on verses 20 and 21, why His family was seeking Him! They wanted to seize Him. Interestingly, this word “seeking” is used ten times in Mark’s Gospel. 9 out of 10 times the word is used in the context of people wishing to control, to test, to arrest, or to kill Jesus. Certainly puts a different spin on seeking Jesus, doesn’t it?! His family wanted to remove Jesus from the heat He was receiving from the religious leaders. “Jesus, come home with us to Nazareth. Just let the situation cool down and go about doing your ministry in a different way.”
Jesus used this as a teaching opportunity to those inside the house. “Who are my real family?”, Jesus essentially asked. Now, it’s important to point out that Jesus was not disowning His natural family. Nor was He giving this as an example for His followers to do. He was simply teaching that His true family, the family of God, is not by genetics, but by grace. Here are the implications of Jesus’ teaching:
Physical family is not ultimately the basis for being in God’s family.
Race, ethnicity, or cultural background are not the determining factors for who is in God’s family.
Jesus’ true family supersedes all other relationships.
Jesus’ true family is inclusive, in that it is made up of sinners from all backgrounds, cultures, and languages.
Jesus’ true family is exclusive, in that it is made up only of those who do the will of God.
It may have felt to His family and to the crowd like Jesus was knocking the natural, nuclear family. In Jesus’ day, the family was the nucleus, the center of society. Everything revolved around the family. But here, Jesus is redefining the family. He isn’t saying His natural family doesn’t matter. Even in His dying moments, Jesus cared for His mother. Jesus is saying that there is a family that matters more than blood relatives. There is a family where you can experience a greater sense of belonging and blessing. It is made up of those who are blood-bought and blood-washed. This is a more superior, stronger, and satisfying family.
This family are Jesus’ kingdom kindred. Sinners adopted by God into the family of God by the grace of God given in the Son of God. And the distinguishing mark, Jesus says, that identifies a person as His brother or sister or mother is that they do the will of God. What does Jesus mean by that? What does it mean to do the will of God in the context of these verses and how does that prove a person to be Jesus’ true family member?
Well, thankfully, by looking ahead just a little in Mark’s Gospel we can get an idea. In chapter 4, we have the parable of the sower and the four soils. The whole point of that parable centers around hearing and receiving the Word of God so that it will bear fruit. So, in the context, these final verses of chapter 3 serve as a sort of prologue to this upcoming parable.
And if that doesn’t make it clear what the will of God is, then turn with me to Luke’s Gospel where we have a parallel version of this account in Luke chapter 8. Fascinatingly, Luke places this teaching of Jesus on the tail end of the parable of the soils rather than before it.
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
I’m so thankful when Scripture interprets Scripture for us! Luke interprets for us what Jesus meant by the will of God. Did you catch it? In Mark, Jesus says, “Whoever does the will of God are my family”. But in Luke, Jesus says, “Those who hear the word of God and do it are my family.”
All this to say:
Theme: Jesus' true family does the will of God.
This morning, we have the privilege and opportunity to gather around the Lord’s Table. But, we should be aware that His Table is only for His family members. And so, I would ask you those two questions again. Am I part of Jesus’ family? And, how can I know that I am part of His family?
I cannot answer the first question for you. You must be the one who answers that question for yourself. However, I can answer the second question for you. To do that, I want to treat our text as a light introduction to Mark chapter 4. And that will require us to jump around the New Testament a bit, rather than staying planted in Mark 3. As we do, I want to show you two marks of those who do the will of God and are thus in Jesus’ family.
1. Receive Jesus Christ believingly.
1. Receive Jesus Christ believingly.
The first mark that you are in Jesus’ family is that you receive Jesus Christ believingly. Humanly speaking, by faith a person enters into the family of God and by faith a person continues in the family of God.
From a human point of view we enter into the family of God by faith. The apostle John in the opening of his Gospel says:
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
In verse 12, the apostle begins with the human responsibility. He describes the steps of faith required for a person to become a child of God. Namely, those who welcomely receive Jesus Christ in love and those who truly believe in His name. Receiving and believing Jesus Christ are required to be called a child of God; to be part of Jesus’ family.
But then in verse 13, we have what could be called a spiritual paradox, as John pulls back the veil to reveal God’s sovereign activity within a person. We were not born into God’s family by virtue of our blood relations or heritage. We were not born into God’s family by virtue of any moral effort. And we were not born into God’s family by virtue of our will, John says. Divinely speaking, we were born into God’s family by virtue of God’s will and work.
Therefore we have a spiritual paradox when it comes to a person’s entrance into God’s family. On the one hand, a child of God is born completely of God. Yet, on the other hand, the proof or evidence that they are born of God is that they receive Jesus Christ with love and believe in His name as their Savior and Lord. We see the same order of events in John’s first epistle.
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.
And we know that receiving Jesus Christ by faith is God’s will for any who would be numbered among Jesus’ true family. Back in John chapter 6, Jesus is about to launch into His Bread of Life discourse when His disciples come to Him with a question.
28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
The disciples’ question is not too dissimilar from the question we’ve been asking today. “What must we do, to be doing the will of God?”, we ask. Jesus answers us as He did His disciples, “This is the will of God, that you believe in Me whom the Father has sent.” And if that isn’t clear from these verses jump down to verse 40 in the very same discourse.
40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Jesus made it abundantly clear for those who were listening then and who are listening today that God’s will for us is to receive and believe Jesus. Faith is the chief work of the child of God.
Of course, I think it should go without saying that if ever a person is to receive the Living Word of God believingly then they must first receive the written Word of God believingly. The written Word of God is where we encounter the truth of the gospel. How we treat God’s Word says a lot about how we regard Jesus Christ. Never has anyone valued and regarded the written Word of God more highly than Jesus Christ. If you would prove to be His family member, then you will receive, love, and devote yourself to the Scriptures. From Genesis to Revelation there is one beautiful, scarlet thread that weaves and binds these pages together. That thread is God’s redemptive plan to rescue and restore fallen man through His Son Jesus Christ to the praise of His glorious grace.
When you open your Bible and you read what’s inside, do you receive it for what it truly is? From Creation to Consummation, do you believe everything, and I mean everything, that God has recorded for us in His Book? Because this is where we have the most concrete revelation of His will for us. We cannot hope to do God’s will if we neglect to receive both His written and Living Word by faith. Both are absolutely and fundamentally necessary to be a child of God; to be in Jesus’ true family. To reject one is to reject the other. If you accept one, you must accept the other.
How can we know if we are part of God’s family? You are Jesus’ brother, sister, and mother if you receive Him believingly. That’s the first mark.
2. Heed Jesus Christ obediently.
2. Heed Jesus Christ obediently.
The second mark of Jesus’ true family is that they heed Him obediently.
Shortly after Jesus was accused of being possessed by Beelzebul and had taught about the binding and plundering of Satan, which we looked at last week, Jesus was confronted by a woman in Luke 11.
As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”
Perhaps this was what some in the crowd were saying in Mark chapter 3, when Jesus’ mother arrived with His family to take Him home. “Blessed be Mary, the blood mother of the Lord”, this woman cried. But how did Jesus respond to her and her claim?
But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Again, Jesus emphasized that experiencing the blessing of being part of His family has nothing to do with being His blood relative. Nor does this blessing have anything to do with your blood relatives. Your own mother could have been the most godly woman on earth and that would still not do you any good if you are not following after her example of faith and obedience to Christ. You cannot enter the Kingdom of God on the coattails of your parents’ faith, or on anyone else’s faith and obedience for that matter. There is something to be said that God has no spiritual grandchildren, only children.
Therefore, if we are to show ourselves to be in Jesus’ family, to prove that we do love Him and do believe Him, we must obey Him and His Word. It is obedience to God that most clearly demonstrates that we have a believing, saving relationship with Jesus. Faith is the root of our relationship with Jesus and obedience is the fruit of our relationship. We know that our faith is healthy and our relationship with Christ is in a good place when we are obeying God’s Word.
To illustrate, picture an apple tree. How do we know if that tree is healthy? If it produces good apples! And why does it produce good apples? Probably because it has a healthy root system absorbing the nutrients from the soil (among other factors). We can’t see the root system, but we know those roots are healthy if the apples are good to eat. But, if an apple tree is producing bad apples, or maybe no apples at all, chances are something could be horribly wrong with the roots underneath or even the soil.
Likewise, the fruit of obedience will tell us if our root system of faith is healthy or not; if our relationship with Jesus is right or not. The evidence that our faith is healthy and active is that our obedience will be budding and reproducing.
That is one way to understand what Jesus’ half-brother James wrote in James chapter 2.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
James was not teaching that we are saved by faith plus works. Rather, the evidence that we are saved by faith is that we will be doing good works. James would conclude his lesson on faith and obedience saying:
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
Faith is meaningless if it does not produce obedience.
Jesus made a similar argument in one of the scariest passages of Scripture. Jesus taught:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
James argued that faith, if not proven and backed up with works of obedience, is dead faith. Well, here Jesus essentially argues that works of obedience, if not rooted in a relational faith to Him, is equally dead, meaningless, and worthless. We see that obedience to the will of God must be inextricably linked to our faith and to Jesus’ intimate knowledge and acceptance of us. There are many who may be doing good works in the name of the Lord, but Jesus will say to them one day, “I never knew you” because those good works weren’t done in faithful obedience to the will of God. There are many out there in the world who appear to be doing great things in the name of Jesus, but at the end of it all it will be revealed that their apple trees had no root system and the apples were painted and plastic. Jesus wants the real deal that produces real fruit, not some decorative piece that looks nice inside your home and may get a few compliments from guests.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
That pretty well narrows down how we do the will of God and works of God! Obedience to Christ is the heartbeat of true Christian love. Jesus does not leave us wondering how we can best express our love to Him. He states it over and over in John 14 and 15. He went on to say:
21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
So, obedience to Christ and His commands, which we find in the written Word, proves that we do love Him. Conversely, whoever does not obey Christ does not love Christ and is not in the family of Christ. The most Christ-like thing we can do is to lovingly obey Him. I say that because Jesus Himself said that is what He does with His Father’s commandments! He has kept His Father’s commandments and thus abides in His love.
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Jesus has made it obvious that your relationship to Him has everything to do with faith demonstrated in obedience. Those are the distinguishing marks of His true family members.
After many of His teachings, Jesus would end by saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” To the seven churches in Revelation, He said much the same thing, “He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). In His Good Shepherd discourse, He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). This sort of hearing is that which pays close attention and responds in conformity to what is commanded. It is not absent absorption of information, but active attention to the Savior’s words.
As we shall see in Mark chapter 4, we need to take care how we listen to God’s Word. That is where we find God’s will for our lives. That is where we discover how to be in Jesus’ family and behave as Jesus’ family. Receive Christ and Heed Christ. Believe Christ and Obey Christ. That is the sum total of what it is to be member of God’s family; a commitment to do the will of God.
As I’ve already mentioned, doing the will of God is how we become more like Christ. Jesus Himself showed that He was God’s Son by doing His Father’s will perfectly. Listen to what the author of Hebrews says concerning Jesus.
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”
Our Lord proved His commitment to do the will of God when He humbly took on the body of flesh that His Father had prepared for Him; when He perfectly lived in obedience to God’s will for Him in that body; and when He sacrificially offered up His body and shed His blood on the cross. Because He did the will of God completely, His Father vindicated Him by raising Him from the grave. By His power and grace, anyone here today who would repent and believe in His name will be welcomed into His family. And we have the assurance that if we have received Him by faith and heed His Word in obedience we are His family.
There are so many blessings and privileges that come along with being in Jesus’ true family. One of the many privileges we have is the opportunity to gather around His Table and remember His saving work on the cross. Actually, this privilege is also commanded for us to observe. So, in a way, what we are about to do as we partake of the Lord’s Supper is verifying our family membership by doing God’s will!
But we are also exercising our family right by observing this ordinance from the Lord Jesus. It truly is a blessing to be part of the family of God in this respect. Because what we are about to do is designed to remind us of God’s grace for us in Christ; His atoning sacrifice and death for us. And it also is designed to convey to us the benefits of His sacrifice; namely that we have been made one body under Christ’s Headship and that His goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives and we shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever as His family.
So, let us come to the Table as the family of Jesus, who have fellowship with one another and who have been reconciled to God to have fellowship with Him through His Son. Let us partake of this meal together in faith and in hope of the banquet to come in Christ’s Kingdom.