Via Chaos and Confusion (A Sermon on Mark 3:20-35)

“Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He’s out of his thoughts.” And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons, he’s driving out demons.” (Mark 3:20-22)Thus begins the passage of Scripture allocated to us this morning, and it doesn’t start well, in the sense that it is not a happy scene. As the story develops, things don’t get any better either. The conflict between Jesus and the teachers of the law escalates, as does the tension between Jesus and His family.I don’t know when you envisage this scene whether a particular word or emotion comes to the surface for you. For me, as I read though this passage again this week in preparation for this sermon, one word came to mind for me immediately – ‘lonely’.That’s the word that came to mind, though whether Jesus really lived a lonely life is hard to say. Jesus shared the mind of God in a way that we don’t share in the mind of God, and so it’s impossible, I think, to really enter into the mind of Jesus. Even so, what came through clearly to me in this scene was that, if it had been me in Jesus’ situation, I would have been feeling the isolation very intensely!I see my life as broken down into a number of areas – the church, the campsite, the fight club, the websites, and my family – each of which are highly significant to me. I find, in general, that something is always going wrong in at least one of these key areas but that, thankfully, they never all fall apart at the same time.When, many years ago, my first marriage fell apart and I wasn’t coping on my own, it was the church community here who helped me get through that with their love. When, at other times, I’ve been in tension with the church community, or have been struggling with other external pressures, I’ve generally had my family to fall back on, and the Fight Club has always been there to help relieve stress. What becomes really difficult for me is when I have to fight the battle on multiple fronts. It seems to me though, that this is exactly what Jesus was doing all the time!As the story opens in Mark chapter three, we see Jesus in head-on confrontation with the demons and, at the same time, He is battling with the religious authorities. Does He get support from His family to help sustain Him in this conflict? Not a chance! On the contrary, his family, we are told, are a part of the problem. Instead of cheering Jesus on, they accept the evaluation His opponents have made of Him and conclude that He is mad! Indeed, by the end of the story, Jesus’ family are at the house where He is teaching, with a view to shutting Him up and taking Him home.Jesus’ response to this though is even more shocking: “”Who are my mother and my brothers?” he requested. Then he checked out these seated in a circle round him and mentioned, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Mark 3:32-35)This brings to mind for me a second word – namely, dysfunctional.Yes, I’m referring to the family of Jesus – the Holy Family, which is generally held up for us as some sort of ideal that we are all supposed to try and emulate.”Christian kids all should beMild, obedient, good as He”So say the words of the Christmas Carol (“As soon as in Royal David’s Metropolis”) but even if it were true of Jesus as a youth (and there are a number of good reasons to think that it was not) it is hardly a good description of Jesus as we see Him here, where Jesus is neither mild nor obedient, and where He seems to disown His own mother!”Listed here are my mom and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mom”” (Mark 3:35).That was a really optimistic phrase of affirmation for the individuals who had been encircled round Jesus, – recognized as Jesus’ actual household. On the identical time although, it was a devastating assault on those that are NOT His household – specifically, His flesh and blood kin who’re ready for Him outdoors (and who should have continued to attend)!It’s weird, is not it, that Jesus is so typically invoked as being the writer and protector of the nuclear household, to the purpose the place ‘Christian values’ and ‘household values’ are thought of to be synonymous, and but the scenes within the Gospels the place we see Jesus interacting with His earthly household are hardly like episodes of The Waltons!The earliest interplay that we see within the Gospels between Jesus and His earthly dad and mom includes them dropping Him, solely to seek out they boy three days later within the temple, saying “did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). On the different finish of the Gospel story we have now Mary watching her son die on the cross! (John 19). In between these two extremes, a collection of encounters between Jesus and His mom and siblings are depicted, and but they’re all tense and tough!”What have you to do with me, woman?” we hear Jesus say to his mom in John, chapter two, and right here in Mark, chapter three, and in parallel passages elsewhere – “who is my mother? Who are my brothers and sisters?”As I say, that is an affirming factor to say to those that you might be recognising as your new household, and but there isn’t a escaping the flip-side. It is a devastating factor to say to your individual flesh and blood mom and brothers and sisters:’You aren’t my mom!’ ‘You aren’t my brother!’ You aren’t my sister!’I do not know if there’s one other single phrase that may sum up the battle between Jesus and the academics of the legislation – ‘battle’, ‘violence, and even ‘damnation’?I believe that each one of us are acquainted with this part of the textual content as these are well-known verses (Mark 3:22-30), and well-known as a result of that is the one occasion within the New Testomony the place we ever hear Jesus inform somebody that they’re NOT forgiven – certainly, that they can’t be forgiven, ever!This reference to the unforgivable sin has been the main target of a variety of dialogue through the years. Extra considerably, it has been the reason for a variety of pointless struggling, I consider, as quite a few folks, through the years, have determined, for one motive or one other, that they’ve dedicated ‘the unforgivable sin’.Soren Kierkegaard’s father was one, I keep in mind. If I recall the story accurately, the person cursed God one night time throughout a horrible storm and was satisfied afterwards that he had dedicated the unforgivable sin. He subsequently turned a really exhausting man to dwell with (and his son adopted in his footsteps in that regard)!I do not understand how many individuals have lived lives which were plagued with worry on the considered having maybe dedicated the unforgivable sin. I do keep in mind being perplexed by this passage as a baby, to the extent that I keep in mind asking my Sunday Faculty instructor whether or not this meant that swearing, utilizing the Holy Spirit’s title, reasonably than swearing utilizing the title of Jesus or just saying ‘My God’ was unforgivable. I used to be informed that it was.I keep in mind, certainly, telling my father that my Sunday Faculty instructor had taught me this, and I keep in mind my father saying that he was going to have a phrase to that Sunday Faculty instructor. That is the place my reminiscence of these occasions ends.Simply in case although there are individuals current who’ve lived in worry of getting dedicated the unforgivable sin, let’s pause and take an sincere have a look at the textual content.The context of the assertion is Jesus’ ongoing work of therapeutic and exorcism. Folks in every single place are having their lives remodeled by Jesus, and that is affecting totally different teams of individuals in numerous methods.For many who are sick or possessed, Jesus is thrilling information. Jesus’ household, then again, are apprehensive about Him. Maybe they only need Him to get a haircut and get an actual job, or maybe they’re involved concerning the social upheaval that He’s inflicting and the way it will have an effect on them. On the coronary heart of the upheaval, at any charge, are the spiritual leaders, who aren’t solely seeing their very own authority undermined, however who’re additionally seeing a degree of agitation of their neighborhood that they worry may carry them into confrontation with their international occupiers – the Romans.These spiritual and neighborhood leaders had been in a clumsy state of affairs. That they had each motive to be suspicious of Jesus and of the damaging impact He may have on their neighborhood. However, it was changing into not possible to disclaim each His phrases and His works! Not solely was He instructing issues that they should have identified had been completely according to any actual understanding of God that that they had, however the miracles He was doing had been changing into more and more exhausting to disregard!There comes a degree the place, regardless of how a lot you do not need to face the reality, the proof turns into overwhelming and it’s a must to finally settle for the info.I am not lengthy again from a convention in Iran the place quite a lot of my fellow audio system had been American whistle-blowers – women and men who had began out working for his or her authorities in good religion, believing that they had been serving to to carry freedom and democracy to nations like Iraq and Afghanistan by means of wars of liberation.It was fascinating to listen to the testimonies of those women and men as they talked about their rising consciousness of what was actually occurring and their need to dam it out in order to not disrupt the course they had been on. For every of them although there got here a degree the place they only could not dwell with the lies any longer!C.S. Lewis, you might know, described his personal coming to Christ in comparable phrases:”You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England” (Stunned by Pleasure, chapter 14).There comes a degree for all of us, once we are confronted with a transparent reality, the place we have now to present in to the overwhelming proof that confronts us, regardless of how a lot ache that causes us. The one different is to enter some sort of schizophrenic state the place we have now to reshape actuality to suit the absurd beliefs that we insist on persevering with to cling to, and that is precisely what we see Jesus’ opponents doing.These academics of the legislation – they’re there. They’ve seen first-hand the work that Jesus does – how He heals the sick, offers sight to the blind and frees those that are possessed – and but reasonably than admit the reality and align themselves with Jesus, they assert the ridiculous – that Jesus Himself is the satan, ‘casting out demons by the prince of demons’. Jesus’ analysis is that these individuals are past assist.Loneliness, dysfunctionality, battle, aggression, violence – these aren’t the one phrases that come to thoughts as I take into consideration this scene. Once I take into consideration the way in which during which that home was so crowded, such that they weren’t in a position to eat, I believe too concerning the degree of noise.Whether or not we envisage the ‘demon-possessed’ as particular person whose heads spun round (like these within the films) or just as individuals with common psychological sickness, I think about that they had been loud and tough to manage. Phrases like ‘chaos’, ‘confusion’ and ‘mayhem’ come to thoughts. I don’t doubt that Jesus was bringing order to the chaos. Even, the scene as I envisage it begins in chaos and confusion, and because the solar units and his household offers up and returns house, there may be nonetheless chaos and confusion.The place’s the excellent news? That is the query.If you recognize me as a preacher, you recognize that I take into account it my principal position as a preacher to carry you the Good Information, and at first sight there would not appear to be a variety of excellent news on view on this passage. There’s loads of chaos and confusion and battle and dysfunction and ache on view, however I struggled for fairly some time to see the Good Information right here, after which it occurred to me – the Good Information is just the truth that this story is within the Bible!What I imply is that this story is not lifted from the Sydney Morning Herald. It isn’t simply one other story of chaos and confusion. It is part of the story of Jesus, and the story of Jesus is the story of the liberation of the cosmos!We all know how this story ends. It ends with the Kingdom coming! Sure, there may be a number of chaos and ache and loneliness and dysfunctionality first, however the Kingdom comes anyway! I believe that’s excellent news – actually excellent news!We battle, we fail one another, we get overwhelmed, we do not know learn how to deal with the battle and we do not know learn how to deal with the isolation, however God’s Kingdom comes, forgiveness occurs, and love wins. Amen!