Family Matters | Mark 3:31–35
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
By this point, Joseph seems to have died, but not before fathering children with Mary. Matthew 1:25 suggests that they engaged in marital relations after the birth of Christ, and Luke 2:7 says that Jesus is her firstborn. Over the years, the Roman Catholic Church developed the false idea that Mary remained a perpetual virgin, a theory never taught in Scripture and disproved by this text. Jesus had siblings, but there are even more powerful truths here.
First, Jesus’s earthly family weren’t His first priority. He sought to turn His mother’s eyes to kingdom priorities (Lk 2:49; Jn 2:4). However, His family had taken on an adversarial role, seeking to detain Him because they thought He’d lost His mind (Mk 3:21). So, Jesus was living what He taught in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” This doesn’t mean that He didn’t care for them; His younger brothers could handle the finances, and He’ll later leave Mary in the spiritual care of the Apostle John (Jn 19:26–27). Even so, He commands us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mt 6:33). We must take care of our families (1 Tm 5:8), but they don’t come before obeying the Lord (Acts 5:29).
Second, true kinship is in Christ. Mark’s contrast is between Jesus’s flesh-and-blood relations and those who God adopts into the family of Christ. Christians become God’s children (Jn 1:12–13; Rm 8:16; 1 Jn 3:1–2). This brings new meaning Him sticking closer than a brother (Pv 18:24), and that God’s a Father to the fatherless (Ps 68:5)!
Thankfully, Jesus’s family comes to believe in Him (Acts 1:14). Our family coming to Christ is a possible result of our salvation and faithfulness (Lk 19:9; Acts 16:31). Still, many converts to Christ find themselves rejected by an earthly family, and must therefore cling more closely to the family of Christ.