How family friendly is Jesus, anyway? If a presidential candidate said what Jesus does in our text (Mark 3:31-35) for this Sunday (or in Luke 12:52-53 or Luke 14:26), it would probably be the end of that campaign.
On a couple different levels this text challenges us not to presume too much on our familiarity with Jesus. First, as I’ve suggested, we might want to revisit our assumptions about what He thinks about family. Our Lord’s position is more subtle than just “pro-family.” Second, the narrative itself suggests that those who might have the claim to know Jesus best (His immediate family) are the very ones left outside the circle closest to Him at this point. We might want to consider our own sense of closeness to Jesus and whether it’s based on unfounded presumption or on the true discipleship of one who “does God’s will.”
Yet the text also offers a marvelous sense of inclusion to those who might feel outside the “family” when confronted with the Christian community. A committed and faithful relationship with Jesus by doing God’s will trumps natural connections like friendship and family. And on the basis of discipleship everyone has a place with Jesus. This is seen by Jesus deliberate inclusion of women in His family in verse 35 by adding the phrase “and sister” to what up till now has only been a mention of His mother and brothers.