RELATED (Article) by Dr. Abidan Paul Shah
(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on January 7, 2020)
I have been pastoring for about 21 years. In my experience, one of the major issues that people struggle with in life is family relationships—How to deal with people we grew up with? How to get along with people who are connected to us for no other reason other than the providence of God!
On one hand, our family can be a great source of blessing and comfort to us. They can give us a sense of belonging. They are a reminder that we are not alone in this world. On the other hand, our family or a family member can also be a great source of consternation and pain to us. Someone said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” There are family members or a family member who for one reason or another have/has turned toxic towards us. They (he/she) use two weapons of mass destruction to make our lives miserable—shame and blame—and the result is devastating! Even though Jesus came for the primary purpose to redeem us from our sin, He was not immune to the daily struggles of life. He too had a family that tried to use those weapons of shame and blame against Him. But He dealt with them with wisdom and grace.
The gospel of Mark tells us in chapter 3 that Jesus’ ministry was growing by leaps and bounds. People were coming to Him from everywhere and He was healing them and setting them free from demonic oppression. Just when you would think that His own people would be proud of Him, listen to Mark 3:21: “But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’”
In other words, His extended family was not in favor of His success. So they came to drag Him back physically because to them He had gone crazy!
Has that ever happened to you, maybe not physically but verbally and emotionally? You work hard and smart, hoping to hear a “well done!” from your loved ones. Instead, you get nothing. You put pictures on social media, hoping that your family will like them, but they ignore them. You check your post 100 times an hour and feel hurt and angry! Take heart, Jesus had the same problem.
Why were Jesus’ extended family like that? Mark 6 tells us that it was because they never got over his “questionable” past. To them, He was still the illegitimate son of Mary. They had known His humble beginning and they knew His brothers and sisters. “So they were offended at Him.” The Greek word is “skandalizo,” which gives us our English word “scandal.” In other words, they were trying to shame Jesus.
How did Jesus handle this? Mark 6:6 “He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.” He knew His true identity and He kept ministering. Do you know your true Identity in Christ—redeemed, forgiven, made new, child of God, more than a conqueror. Always remember: Some people will never get over your past. Make sure you know who you are in Christ.
But it’s not over yet. Mark 3:31: “Then His brothers and His mother came.” Maybe the hometown crowd pressured them to talk sense into Jesus. “And standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him.” Why were they unwilling to go into the house? By refusing to come in, they were showing their disapproval of his success. Not only that, but they were also blaming him for making them come all the way to Capernaum.
What was Jesus’ response? 33 “But He answered them, saying, ‘Who is My mother, or My brothers?’ 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.’” In other words, Jesus did not submit His ministry to His family’s approval. He stood His ground and refused to go out to meet them. He did not alter God’s vision to please His earthly family. So also, if you keep seeking the approval of those who only blame you, you will never complete the vision God has for your life. It’s great to have the blessing of your loved ones but, ultimately, it’s God’s approval that counts.
If we were to end here, this would be “us against the world (family)” sermon. This is not what Jesus did. He demonstrated grace towards His earthly family.
As He hung on the cross, He noticed His mother standing by the cross and the disciple whom He loved standing by. In the midst of this cataclysmic event, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. So also, after Jesus rose from the grave, He revealed Himself to His disciples. Then, He made a special visit to His brother James (1 Corinthians 15:7). Is it any wonder that James became the head of the Jerusalem church and wrote his epistle in the New Testament? Another brother who also received Jesus as his Savior and King was Jude, who also wrote the short letter in the New Testament that bears his name.
Ultimately, our goal with our family should not be approval or validation. It should be salvation through Jesus Christ and a growing likeness to Him. In the end, that’s all that will matter. When was the last time you prayed for your lost family member to be saved? When was the last time you encouraged them to walk with Christ? Are you saved?