Mark 3:31-35

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Some will speak about the positive connections between family and christian faith. This passage, and its broader context in Mark’s gospel, does not sit well with that.

Jesus’ family wanted him to come home and to be “normal”. To contribute to the family enterprise and to stop bringing their name into disrepute. That Joseph is not mentioned suggests that he is no longer part of the family either through death or separation. This would mean that the responsibility of leading and managing the family affairs would fall to the eldest son, Jesus. To their way of thinking Jesus was shirking his responsibility. The context of the passage also suggests that he is “mad” or demon possessed. I can understand that they wanted their son/brother back. But Jesus’ call was to offer a new vision of God which challenged the way in which his society worked. His family are those who choose to follow him.

Jesus offers a new way of being family that goes beyond the constraints of birth. The first followers of Jesus called each other “sister” and “brother”. This was more than a formality. it was an expression of a new relationship with each other that they had found with God through following Jesus.