Jesus' Crazy Family Tree
A sermon based on Mark 3:20-35
Sunday, June 14, 2015 – Pentecost 3B
A few years ago I found a website that really intrigued me. It's called FamilyHeritage.com. Even without the paid subscription, I've been able to find a lot of information on my family tree. I've made it back about 5 or 6 generations so far, and have contemplated an annual subscription, but want to be sure I can commit the time to digging deeper in their database before I pay for their full features. And I don't know why I find it so fascinating, but I love learning about my family history.
How about you? I assume you know who your grandparents are or were. But how about your great grandparents? Your great-great grandparents? How many generations back can you trace? Did they emigrate to the US? What brought them here? Where did they live before that? How they live? Do you know your family tree? Have any crazy uncles or great gradparents who did some crazy things? Do you have an ordinary, relatively boring, family tree like mine? Or do you have a crazy family tree?
This morning, we'll take a peek at Jesus' crazy family tree. Well, sort of. We'll meet his natural family—his mother, Mary, and his half-brothers—and see that they thought Jesus was a little crazy. And we'll see how his enemies went crazy and thought that he belonged to satan's family tree. But today, we won't just look at Jesus' family tree. We'll look at ours as well. We'll thank God that through Jesus, you and I are apart of his family tree.
Our text for consideration this morning is from Mark 3:20-35…
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."
22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons."
23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: "How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. 28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."
30 He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit."
31 Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."
33 "Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."
I. His natural family thought he was crazy.
Jesus' mother and brothers cared for him. There was no doubt about that. But they thought he was crazy. He wasn't taking very good care of himself, they thought. He was working himself to death and he couldn't sustain the pace! He was working so hard he didn't even have time to eat! They loved him so much they just had to stage an intervention. They went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."
"Jesus, you're a work-a-holic. And you're acting crazy! You don't even have time to eat. If you really care about your disciples, if you care at all about yourself, you'll slow down. You need to stop this right now! And we'll force you to if you won't do it on your own. We love you too much to let you do this to yourself. Stop this madness."
But of course, thinking they knew better than Jesus showed what they really thought of him. Had Mary forgotten Jesus' family tree? Had she forgotten that she was a virgin when Jesus was born—that he was not an ordinary child, but the God-man? Had his brothers forgotten that he is the eternal God who created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them?! They must have! How else could they try to correct him? How else could they try to stage an intervention and stop him from doing what he thought was best? How else could they scold the God-Man and tell him that they, not he, knew best?!
Well, before we pick on the unbelieving brothers and the stumbling mother in this account, let's be fair. Don't we often do the exact same thing? Don't we often tell Jesus that he's crazy? I know, you may never have voiced it in those words—at least I hope not—but isn't that really what we imply anytime we suggest that we know better than Jesus?
"Jesus, do you really want us to rely on the simple proclamation of the Gospel to grow your church?! Don't you think we need some gimmick? They won't listen to me! Your word's not really that powerful. You must be nuts!"
"Jesus, are you really saying that this water sprinkled on a baby's head can wash away sins? Are you seriously saying that this bread and wine is actually your body and blood?! You must be crazy!"
"Jesus, are you seriously suggesting that I ought to forgive my ex? My parents? My enemy who hurt me? Did you see what he did? Did you hear what she said? And you still want me to forgive?! Jesus, that's insane!"
Do you ever try to take charge of Jesus and tell him what to do? If we're honest we have to say, "Yes. Every time we sin, we really say to him, 'Listen, Jesus. This is how it's going to be…'" as we ignore his Word and live for ourselves.
Jesus natural family thought he was crazy. But if they had their misgivings about Jesus' divinity, the teachers of the law were absolutely certain that Jesus wasn't right in the head. They thought that if he were to trace his family tree it would go back to satan, not to God…
II. His enemies thought he was a part of satan's family.
"Beelzebub!" they cried, "The Lord of the Flies!" that's who he's working for! Or "Beelzeboul" the Greek literally says, "He's possessed by the Lord of Dung!" He's insane! Crazy! Possessed by the devil! "By the prince of demons he is driving out demons."
But Jesus loved his enemies and wouldn't let them leave with the wrong idea about him. He called them to himself and taught them the truth. "A house divided cannot stand!" Made famous by Abraham Lincoln in his plea to end the Civil War, it was really Jesus who said it first: "If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Satan isn't so stupid as to fight against himself! If he did that he would never win! "And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come." Jesus pointed out that he wasn't the one who was crazy, they were! "If you think I come from satan, that I'm driving out demons in his name, than you're nuts! That's not how a war is won! You're crazy!"
In fact, Jesus took it a step further: "In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house." In other words, Jesus said that he couldn't drive out demons if he were not more powerful than the demons himself. But he clearly had driven out demons. They had seen it! There was no denying the miracles! So Jesus is far more powerful than they are. He is far stronger than satan, far mightier than his demons, and he can tell them where to go and they must obey!
Make no mistake! Jesus is from Mary's family tree, but not from Joseph's. He is not from Beelzebub, or from satan! He is the God-man, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and by his victory on Calvary's cross, he has defeated satan once and for all!
What comfort we find in that truth, because we know he has defeated satan for us and has brought us into his family…
III. We thank God that he's brought us into his family.
It was about 11 O'clock at night when my phone startled me awake. The woman on the other end was hysterical. She wouldn't give me her name, but she was certain that she was damned. She was disappointed with God and angry with him that he wouldn't give her what she'd asked for. And in her anger and frustration she had uttered words she knew to be blasphemous, words that slandered God. She told me that she had screamed in her room, "I curse you, God! I curse you, Jesus! I curse you, Holy Spirit!" Now, she was convinced she could never be forgiven. For she had read verse 29: "But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."
But let's take a look at what that actually means. In the other Gospels, Jesus adds something. In Matthew he says, "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." So, did you ever wonder, how could one sin against the Son and not sin against the Spirit? After all, you cannot separate the Triune God. A sin against one person is a sin against the others. But the key to understanding this verse is understanding the work of each person of the Trinity.
We usually speak of the work of God the Father as creator and preserver of life, the work of God the Son as redeemer and savior from sin, and the work of God the Holy Spirit as the enlightener and sanctifier. Well, one could slander the Father in anger as Job did, suggesting that God was not caring for him the way he ought. That's not wise, but it's not an eternal sin of which one cannot be forgiven. One could slander the Son and suggest that he didn't know best as Mary and Jesus' brothers' did, as we do. Again, that's not wise, but it's not an eternal sin of which one cannot be forgiven.
But if one slanders the Holy Spirit by refusing to believe in Jesus, if you sin against his office and reject the truth that he brings, then there can be no forgiveness, because you refuse the one and only way to find that forgiveness. It would be like severing the pipe that brings water into your house. You can no longer get water because you destroyed the means of bringing it to you.
So I comforted that hysterical woman with this truth and assured her that if she was concerned that she might have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, that she hadn't. She certainly sinned against God in her blasphemous words, but forgiveness was not out of reach—not yet. She was not "guilty of an eternal sin," and " [would] not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."
When we tell Jesus we think he's crazy and that we know better than he does—and that's really what we do any time we sin—we really side with satan who thought God should not be in charge, but he should. But that doesn't mean that we are guilty of an eternal sin and will not be forgiven. It means we must repent of our foolish rebellion and our stupid sin. But we're not without hope.
You know what Jesus has done for you by the work of the Holy Spirit. You know how he has brought you into his family.
He lived a perfect life pleasing his Father in every way. Nevertheless, he was forsaken not just by his mother and his brothers, but his Father forsook him on the cross. And as Jesus endured hell itself being forsaken by him, he paid for every sin you or I have ever committed—for every time we've told Jesus that he was crazy and that we would do things our own way. And now, we've been brought into God's family by the work of the Holy Spirit!
John 1:12-13 says, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." Hebrews 2:11 says, "Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them [that is, us] brothers [and sisters]." God has brought us into his family! Sounds crazy, doesn't it? "After all we've done? You mean we're just forgiven! You must be crazy!" But it's absolutely true! 1 John 3:1 says, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
And now, we are eager to be a part of the family and join together with each other to listen to our Father! To rejoice in our awesome big Brother! And to live for him and for each other!
"Who are my mother and my brothers?" [Jesus] asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."
Don't know who your great-great-grandmother is? No worries. Can't find the name of your great-grandfather? Who really cares?! You know all you need to know about your family tree. You know who Jesus is. He's not crazy like his natural family thought. He's not in league with satan like his enemies thought. He's your Savior. And through his work on the cross and the Holy Spirit's work in the Gospel, you are now a son or daughter of God. You are a brother or sister of Christ himself. You are adopted into his family. And you are an heir of eternal life. Crazy as it may seem, it's true: You are a part of God's family tree. In Jesus' name, dear friends, amen.