Are you like me feeling like you got cold water thrown in your face reading this week’s texts? Maybe shaken up is a better phrase. We’ve spent a few weeks in the beautiful, comforting farewell discourse of John, then the joy of Pentecost, then the complex meditations of the Trinity, and now this! The crowds cryiing out for a king, the destruction and glory of God, exorcisms and an attempted seizure by Jesus’s family.
We all breathe a sigh of relief on the second Sunday after Pentecost. The Altar Guild can put up the green hangings and leave them there for a while. The congregation can fall into a regular Sunday routine. The preachers can build on their sermons week by week.
I usually succomb to the Hebrew texts in the summer Sundays. The stories are so great, relatable and it is easy to pull together something intergenerational around them for those two or three months without Sunday School. When we get to all those weeks about bread coming up I might just do that but, for now, I think I will stick with Mark. It has its own excitement.
Kate Huey offers some really intriguing preaching paths to take with Mark this week. I am considering Jesus’s family. It’s such a strange situation compared to the actions of his family in the other gospels. When you consider His mother’s behaviour at the Wedding at Cana in John 3, she seems to know exactly who Jesus is and what He has come to accomplish. In fact, she is pushing Him to make Himself known. Here she is using her matriarchal authority again basically sending the message, “Tell Jesus it is time to come home for supper!”
Jesus’s response is harsh and seems to suggest that his family is jealous. “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.”” Or, perhaps, Jesus is trying to provoke his family into getting out of the house.
The thing that is constant about Jesus’s mother is she always knows that Jesus is the Messiah. Could it be that Jesus’s family is not jealous of the time he is spending with the crowds, but genuinely afraid for Him, his safety, maybe even His sanity?
Having spent so many weeks in John, it may be helpful to remind folks of the events of the first 2 chapters of Mark. They are full and non-stop. Jesus’s ministry and power continue to build to the point that he is now exorcising demons. The temple authorities have taken notice and they are angry. This would be a great gospel to read dramatically with shouting to really grasp the aggression of some in the crowd and the frustration expressed by Jesus. Could it be that the request from Jesus’s family is actually what calms things down?
While there may be some grace in the distance Jesus’s family has from the whole episode, He doesn’t let them stay distant. Family doesn’t just sit back and let their loved one get hurt. They walk with one another.
Reflecting on the words of Jesus’s family could lead the preacher on the ways we respond in community out of fear. When the Spirit gets to work, there is a lot to react to. How does your community react when they are afraid? What happens when they look past their fear and join in the fray?
What else are you considering this week? Are you looking at a series or two this summer?