As we continue to look at Jesus’ interactions with His mother, we come now to a point a bit later in His ministry where there was some clear tension. As Christ preached and healed the sick, huge crowds were gathering everywhere He went. To the extent that He could often not even take a meal. The Bible says that His “people” thought that He had “lost His senses”.
Jesus had avoided publicity as long as possible. And though it was His mother that helped initiate His debut into the public eye (see the last post here), now she’s trying to rein Him in!
Mother Mary decides she needs to take some action, so she grabs Jesus’ brothers (yes, He had brothers and sisters, my Catholic friends!) and goes to have a face-to-face meeting with her eldest. But the crowd is so thick they can’t even get close to Jesus. Instead they send “word” to Him that they need to talk to Him muy pronto.
That’s when Jesus said something that seemed uncharacteristic. It looks as if He is being insensitive to His mother:
“Who are My mother and My brothers?” Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:33-35)
Sometimes in saying “yes” to God, we have to say “no” to those we love, even our mothers. But be assured that Jesus is not simply “blowing his mother off” here. Rather, He’s showing us that only One Person can have ultimate authority and influence in our lives: Father God.
We cannot afford to let sympathy with the short-sightedness of family members or the sting of misplaced shame derail us from our primary allegiance to God.
This is one of the most difficult responsibilities of those in leadership: It’s very easy to say “yes”, and difficult to say “no”. But our “nos” define us far more than our ‘yeses’ do! We will often say “yes” to folks for little more than the motivation to keep them happy with us. But being willing to disappoint them by saying, “no” is often rooted in a much higher motive and principle. That’s when you find out who you truly are.
Again, our supreme devotion must be to God. Mind you, this is not an excuse for self-centered avoidance of responsibility or rebellious living! Sometimes folks say “no” because they are lazy or covetous. Certainly this is not what Jesus was doing.
Sometimes one of the most difficult costs of obedience is having to say “no” to someone . While we must be committed to follow the Lord supremely, it should never be “easy” to do things that separate us from our loved ones. Nonetheless, sometimes it is necessary.
I remember the story of how the famous 19th-century minister, George Mueller, met the Lord and realized God’s missionary calling on his life. All through his teens and college days Mueller had been a profligate, thief, and heavy drinker. Somehow he was able to gain his degree at the university. Then his father decided he wanted George to become a Lutheran minister. This seemed okay to George, because he figured he could fleece the congregations for all kinds of money. So in keeping with his father’s wishes he entered divinity school and meanwhile carried on his partying and riotous night life.
One night for humor he went to a cottage prayer meeting with a friend. There he was touched by the gospel and the sincerity and spiritual reality of some people present who really loved Jesus. Within a week he was born-again. His entire life changed. Next he heard a missionary speaker and his heart was touched by God and he knew he was called to be a missionary. He decided to transfer from seminary to a missionary training college.
Somehow he knew even before he told his dad what the man’s response would be. His father demanded that he immediately stop all talk and plans to be a missionary. Mueller respectfully had to disregard his father’s command. At that point he was disowned by his dad.
Mueller was not rejecting his father but simply saying, “no” to his dad’s agenda for his life. This interaction uncovered massive self-centeredness and anger within his dad’s heart. It was difficult to say “no” to his dad. But saying “yes” to the Lord of the harvest required Mueller to do so.
Sometimes our saying “no” to someone becomes a tool from God to show them the selfishness in their own heart. (And often our refusal to say “no” exposes our own selfishness!) A man I greatly respect told me recently, “You never know what is in a man’s heart until you cross him.” And we may not know what’s in our own hearts until someone says “no” to us!
If even Jesus Christ’s human family had trouble when He obeyed the heavenly Father, we should not be surprised if people close to us at times do not immediately see God’s hand in what we are doing. Jesus’ own brothers were not believing in Him…until after He was raised from the dead. Then they humbly accepted Him as their Lord and Savior and through faith became co-heirs with Jesus in the family of God!
And you also are co-heirs with Christ if you continue to trust and obey Him.
I will finish this series next time with Jesus’ fourth and final interaction with His mother.