Family (naked runner/ Lesson 5)


The Gathering Church/ Pastor Barry: Gospel of Mark: Memoirs of the naked runner

Following Jesus Mark 3:7-12

The above passage tells us that “many people came” to Jesus from all over! Crowds followed him everywhere he went.  They came to be healed of their maladies, to hear what he had to say, and to simply say that they had seen him. Yes, Jesus had become a first century celebrity!   Jesus would even preach from a small boat in order to keep the crowds from pushing against him. When a demon possessed person would see Jesus the demon would cast them to the ground and proclaim “You are the Son of God!” With a word Jesus would rebuke them into silence.  Demons were not to proclaim his name.  The masses would soon do that and then he would die for their sins and complete his mission (John 3:16).

Jesus Picks Twelve Mark 3:13-19

The scripture says that Jesus “called to him those he wanted”. Why did he choose these from among the many that followed him? We know that Judas would go on to betray Jesus thereby sending him to the cross to accomplish his mission, but why Peter, James, John and the others listed in Mark 3:16-19? They would all fail Jesus in his hour of need (Mark 14:37-42, 50) but they would also return to fulfill his great commission (Mark 16:15-20) even unto death:

Deaths of the Apostles:

Simon (Peter): Crucified upside-down in Rome (John 21:18). James (Son of Zebedee): Put to death with the sword (beheaded) by Herod (Acts 12:2). John: Unsuccessfully boiled in oil in Rome, sentenced to the prison island of Patmos (where he wrote Revelation). John was later freed and returned to what is now modern-day Turkey where he died as an old man. Andrew: Whipped then crucified on an x-shaped cross in Greece where he preached for two days   before dying. Phillip: Scourged, crucified and then stoned to death. Bartholomew (Nathanael): Beaten with staves, crucified, and beheaded in Armenia.  Matthew (Levi): Killed by a sword in Ethiopia. Thomas: Stabbed with a spear in India. James (Son of Alphaeus): Crucified. Thaddaeus (Judas/ Jude): Slain under King Augarus in Mesopotamia. Simon (The Zealot): Crucified. Judas Iscariot (The Betrayer): Hung himself after betraying Christ (Acts 1:15-20). Matthias (Chosen to replace Judas: Acts 1:26): Stoned and then beheaded. Paul (Saul/ “least of the Apostles” 1 Corinthians 15:9-10): Tortured and then beheaded by Nero in AD67 Mark (not an apostle) preached the gospel in Egypt and there was drawn with ropes and burned alive over a fire under Trajanus the emperor. Ancient Church history compiled by John Foxe (1518-1587), The Acts and Monuments of the Christian Church AKA Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, first published in English in 1563.

The fact that Jesus “Called” these men to him proves two things. 1.) Jesus foreknew those He called and predestined them to take His gospel where He wanted it to go. (Romans 8:29-30) 2.) These men truly believed Jesus to be the Messiah for they all died without renouncing their faith in Him.

 Family & Foe Mark 3:20-34, Matthew 13:54-58, Hebrews 10:26-29, 1 John 3:1-3

We all know… sometimes “family” can be the hand that holds you down. Unbelieving “Family”, relatives and town folk was the reason that Jesus did so few miracles in his home town. Even Jesus’ own brothers (Matthew 13:54-58) didn’t believe in him (Mark 6:4-6, John 7:5). It was only after Jesus’ resurrection that the brothers became disciples (Acts 1:14) and we don’t know if his sisters ever believed. Jesus’ brother James went on to lead the church in Jerusalem for 30 years and also wrote the Epistle of James. James was eventually martyred for his faith by being thrown from a tower and beaten to death with clubs, but in Mark 3:21 he was likely one of the brothers who went to “take charge of him” because they thought Jesus was “out of his mind.” We know from the book of Matthew (Matthew 12:46) that Mary was also with the brothers.  We must never forget that Mary was prone to human failings too. She was, after all, a mother worried about her son’s controversial fame.

While Jesus’ family thought he was simply “out of his mind” the teachers of the law were proclaiming that Jesus was “possessed by Beelzebul”(Prince of Demons). Jesus made clear the foolishness of their speculation and then warned them of the unforgivable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. If anyone should have recognized Jesus for who He was, it was the Pharisees. Yet they chose defiance. They purposely attributed the work of the Spirit to the devil, even though they could clearly see the truth.  The unpardonable sin is the state of continued unbelief despite the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit currently convicts the unsaved world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11). To resist that conviction and willfully remain unrepentant is to “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit. There is no forgiveness for a person who dies in unbelief (Hebrews 10:26-29).

Jesus clearly draws a line here between family and foe. In Mark 4:31 Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived with unbelief.  His expressed allegiance was not to the village people he was raised with, nor to his relatives, nor even to his own immediate family or mother.  The family of Jesus is “whoever does God’s will”— which is to believe. Even Judas Iscariot at that moment was more family than Mary and his brothers (although that position would change). His foes were those who bad mouthed his works and insulted the “Spirit of grace”, his mission was (and is) to any who came to sincerely hear and consider the truth he told.

Through the gospel of Christ we have all been called to be in the family of God!  Will you join? Those outside of the family will think we are crazy or even hate us, but we who follow must strip off disbelief and embrace the promise that Jesus will return for his family. Continue to do his will… you who choose to be a child of God (1 John 3:1-3).

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