Jos 19-20; Mark 3; Psalm 141-142
As we read Mark 3 – we cannot escape the theme of Conflict. It has already arisen with the scribes in Chapter two – life in the forgiveness of sins is breaking into the world, and the world is disrupted.
Over and over again we see this disruption in Chapter 3 – Jesus comes into conflict of the life denying tradition of the Pharisees. As He is troubled in his gut before the tomb of Lazarus, so also he is angered before the life denying of the Pharisees. Life breaks forth and Death stalks the scene – conflict
The crowds crush in on him – Life is being squeezed out – the demons get in on the act. Seeking to push Jesus into their deadly mould – to announce himself, rather than Life.
He chooses 12, but even amongst these there is one who will be the means by which the Conflict will be brought to a head
He is accused of casting out demons by the prince of demons – Life is called Death by those that would negate it, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
And finally even his family try to restrain him. Here perhaps of all places in this passage we are challenged too. We may side with Jesus easily, and perhaps unthinkingly in all the other situations (although our actions may well betray us . . .) But here, Jesus takes that which is often most precious to so many, family and declares it a hindrance to Life. And of course it so often is. How often ‘family matters’ close us off to other people, and to the Life that is to be known in the community of Christ’s people.
Family values it strikes me, are a way in which we cloke our discipleship in a form of deceit. We say we have given up all to follow him, but our family in a sense becomes our last line of defence against this Life.
This life so evident in Christ, redefines family in terms of the Kingdom of God – we are invited to a new, huge family – one which does not act as a barrier to the outsider – but one which welcomes one and all.
That may well be the key way we find ourselves in conflict with Jesus.
But having found ourselves with him, and remember that the key question we ask is not ‘is he with me?’, but ‘am I with him?’, now we find ourselves in the midst of the same conflict – Life versus death, healing versus tradition, exclusive relationships versus open ones. [A reminder also that Jesus isn’t all that taken with marriage either – see Luke 18:29, 20:34-35 ]