The image to the left is my idea of the world to come. Yes, it’s New Zealand. There is a reason Peter Jackson made Middle Earth here. And this post is about having the world to come here and now while we wait for it to appear (which is a description, actually, of the essence of Yeshua’s teaching).
The commentary below on Mark 3:31-35 is not a sermon. It is concise and tries to deal with the issues of the text somewhat thoroughly while getting to the message.
I’m reading Ched Myers Binding the Strongman at the moment (just started) and I’ve been doing commentary for weeks now on Mark as the culmination of several years of reading the gospels and a lot of historical Jesus material. While Myers is a bit extreme, I find that those who have followed Yeshua in general have not been extreme enough in the right ways. By extreme, I mean extremely into love and community and healing the world.
Yeshua has a family. It is those who do God’s will. It transcends literal family. As Myers says, the gospel of Mark has three interwoven strands: (1) the creation of a new community, (2) the mission to the crowd, and (3) the confrontation with the powers, including political and religious powers. If we understood and committed to live together the kinds of things hinted at in Mark 3:31-35 and filled out in the rest of Mark (and beautifully augmented in Matthew with its emphasis on kingdom living, Luke with its emphasis on the needy and humble, and John with its emphasis on union with God), what a beautiful thing Messianic Judaism and Christianity could be. Commentary after the jump.
MARK 3:31-35 Mary and Yeshua’s brothers arrive (31), the crowd informs Yeshua (32), Yeshua dismisses his family and teaches a deeper meaning to kinship (33-35).
NOTES: This story illustrates perfectly how Matthew and Luke use Mark as a source and yet feel free to adapt and change what they receive from their sources. Both Matthew and Luke include this story (Matt 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21). Yet neither includes a parallel to Mark 3:20-21, we might guess because they found it too disturbing.
In Mark’s account, part of the dynamic of the story is that Yeshua’s family thinks he is out of his mind. Perhaps they think this because of his miracles and the crowds or perhaps because he is speaking defiantly to dangerous leaders who can have him killed. Matthew and Luke use the story somewhat differently. They both emphasize more the positive sense of Yeshua’s saying. Thus, Matthew does not have Yeshua speak of the “crowd” but rather the “disciples” as his family (this is not a discrepancy as many in the crowd were disciples in the broader sense beyond the Twelve).
In Mark’s version, we are to understand that there is tension between Yeshua and his family. They wish to prevent him from completing his work by talking him out of either the public spectacles or, at the very least, the defiant words to dangerous leaders. Thus, in Mark, the idea that we have a deeper kinship in the community of faith is in part a message not to let actual kin keep us away from the work of God.
Yeshua’s family, including Mary (an important part of our understanding of Mary’s journey through the trials of her son’s life), is among the outsiders, those who are not in Yeshua’s inner circle. They are not among those who do the will of God. How can Mary, if the stories in Luke 1:26-56 really happened, think her son is out of his mind? Is this evidence that Mary had no idea about Yeshua’s exalted identity? Not necessarily. There are multiple possibilities. One is that throughout his childhood Yeshua did not work miracles and after so many years, Mary does not recognize this new power in her son which was hidden. Closely related is the idea that she may have expected a much more conventional savior-ruler identity for her son instead of this upstart who takes on the Israelite leadership and defies common ideas of fidelity to God. Mary must make the same journey of understanding as everyone else, finding out who her son really is. She must become an insider.
Much of Yeshua’s teaching in Mark is about those inside and those outside. Yeshua has been calling disciples and naming the Twelve as his innermost circle. In 4:11, he will further describe the dynamic of those on the inside and those on the outside. The spiritual kin of Yeshua are a cohesive group whose bonds exceed family ties. Those outside will see the attributes of the kingdom in the Yeshua-community and want to become insiders. Doing the will of God is choosing to be part of Yeshua’s spiritual family and making new bonds with each other that transcend even normal familial love. Some scholars call this fictive kinship. It is a social re-ordering, people coming together and finding a new purpose by living out Yeshua’s teaching and thereby doing the will of God.
MORE ON COMMUNITY AND DISCIPLESHIP AT YESHUA IN CONTEXT
Part 1 on Yeshua and Community (the series is not yet finished). These are just notes at the moment. I will be writing much more when I have completed my notes. I’m teaching “Mark for Disciples” right now at synagogue and developing a lot of specific ideas for application.
Mark as Apocalyptic. This worldview should be our worldview. And Yeshua applies it for us so we can see how it works.