To Whose House Do You Belong?
Good Morning Friends,
If I had lived as a Jew in Israel and had heard Jesus first hand I might well have expected the restoration of a Jewish King, the rededication of the temple, the liberation of the land from foreign rule and the archiving of proper census results as to people’s ancestry and claims of nationality. And if you told me that this King would have the heart of a shepherd herding a flock ushering in a new covenant, I most definitely would have thought of the reign of King David who brought all the tribes together. I would not have likely thought that Jesus had come to help all the Gentiles of the world, at least until I had heard Paul’s eloquent explanation. Who knows I might thought as Mary the mother of Jesus along with Jesus’ half-brothers, that Jesus was mad. It is interesting that this embarrassing fact made it into the Bible. But it is there for a reason. For as Jesus selects the disciples, allegiances are being formed in new ways. New history is being written. And given this dynamic we might well have in time greeted people with today’s question and a new understanding of family. To Whose House Do You Belong?
Scripture: Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, even the blind and the lame will turn you back” —thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, which is now the city of David. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.
2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10 (NRSV)
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3:22-35 (NRSV)
And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:13-15 (NRSV)
And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'”
Luke 15:23-32 (NRSV)
In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses,
Colossians 2:11-13 (NRSV)
Message: Abraham as the father of the nation of Israel, was celebrated initially, not so much the fact that he was father of many nations but that he was the genealogical root of Israel. The Bible has a lot of lists of names making these genealogical links. It would take Paul to map that out the importance of Abraham to our faith as Gentiles beyond this focus. The religious leaders that claimed Jesus was possessed would have claimed Abraham in the nationalistic sense. They thought in terms of an earthly kingdom. But their timing and focus was off. The Son of God came to save the whole world. So, this whole episode we have been studying in Mark is more revolutionary than we might think. We can easily miss the shock of what is going on here. We miss the revolutionary nature of Jesus’ retreat into the wilderness of the mountains – up a mountain, alluding to key moments in history, like Moses and Abraham – to inaugurate a new Nation, a new Twelve. We miss the culturally seismic declaration of Jesus in ignoring his family and declaring what constitutes his true family. You see the Jewish family was the local expression of the wider Jewish family of God. You were who you were in God’s kingdom because of your family. The family was your means of salvation. You did not disrespect the family, and that is one of the shocking aspects of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Remember that one of the key defining moments of Jewish identity was the yearly family meal of Passover. Once the lamb had been slain in the Temple, the family would gather and eat together, doing this in remembrance of the Great Escape from Egypt and looking forward to a greater rescue. Not only does Jesus radically redefine the key family meal of Passover around himself, but Jesus redefines those who he calls family not along blood lines or ancestry but as whoever does God’s will. That is why the book of Revelation indicates another book of names that is about the faith family not a genealogy linked to Abraham. This is radical stuff and should make us pause and reflect on what this really means about how we are to live.
Pray we realize the importance of not rejecting Jesus. Pray we honor the importance of family and especially our spiritual family as children of God. Pray we help rescue people from the house of darkness. Pray we be the concrete realization of God’s covenant promises to Abraham. Pray we show ourselves to be in the family by our love for Jesus, our love for each other and by doing God’s will in the power of the Spirit. Pray our family is an eternal family that calls us to a deeper allegiance than blood or nationality. Pray we see true resurrection power at work in us as we do our part in bringing more names into the Book of Life that document those who are part of the eternal family of God. Pray we give thanks for the gift of life in being born and reborn. Pray we rejoice as part of the family of God redeemed by the Word made flesh.