Witnessing God’s mercy in Our Desire to Learn More of His Grace

Good Morning,

Mercy and the love of God for all of His creation has been a theme running through each of our Tuesday prayer and worship helps over the past month or so. How a person treats the least of these and takes into consideration their daily bread says a lot about someone. We witness this compassion from Christ at every turn. He had more important work to do at many times in His ministry, but when a person came to Him in need of healing Jesus was quick to respond not taking into any thought what His own needs were in the moment. It is easy for us to make excuses as to why we can’t do likewise. We make claims about our busyness. Who had more on their plate and less time to get it all done than the One who knew His moment in the flesh walking the earth was limited by the plan and purpose of God? Yet what do we see consistently from our Lord? Patience and priority.

A scene where this is put into stark reality is when Christ is confronted by His mother Mary and His brothers in Mark 3:31-35. In that scene Jesus has been teaching and preaching to those who had followed Him after His calling of the disciples and the healing of the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. It was a shock to the people. He had transgressed the tradition of the elders (but not the fourth commandment) and was speaking to them as a person with authority, they could not but follow and find out what more this man of mystery was saying. They forsook whatever plans they had that day in order to be near His counsel of wisdom. In this chapter there are two groups of naysayers: the Pharisees and Jesus’ Family. The first we should expect to see, they were always in His way and sought from the beginning to have Him destroyed by any means necessary. It’s the others that give us some pause, especially since Mary had witnessed such great faith in the early days.

There is something to be learned here with those with ears to hear concerning Mary’s sinful heart. That she could forget/forsake what the word and the angels had said about her son should give us a word of caution. For whatever reason Mary didn’t fully understand what Jesus was about and what His mission was to do, and it wasn’t the first time this reared it’s head. When our Lord was twelve it was He who had to remind both Mary and Joseph that His calling was to always be about His Father’s business. The situation (spoken also in Matthew 12 and Luke 8) in this case sees Jesus respond that it is not only He who should keep God’s purposes in mind as He went about His day, but all who confess faith, and trust then in the grace and love of Jehovah should likewise be all-in on doing what God had revealed.

For our design this morning let’s look at the whole passage real quick:

Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.” But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”

There are some who read what Jesus says here and allow some incipient questions to rise up in their own mind about whether or not Christ is disrespecting His mother. We know as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity He can neither sin nor can He witness to others sin. What we see Him do is learn up His mother and His brothers (and by extension the crowds and us). His goal here is to use this as a teaching moment for everyone so that they understand what matters. The apostle Paul has a somewhat similar opportunity given to him in his ministry when Peter acts the fool among the Jews and Gentiles at Antioch. He confronts this man whom Jesus loves, and was for many the apostle, and declares to His face that believers are never to be double-faced. In the same letter where we read this account Paul also says:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

From where do you think Paul learned this order of things? Was it not from the Lord’s brother himself? Remember it was James who received him gladly, and James the brother of Jesus, in his letter also is clear to refer to himself as a bondservant of Christ. There is nothing in the believer’s life which will better express his or her understanding of their own faith then how they approach chances to learn of Christ. We know that Mary and the brothers all moved past their reticence and ignorance expressed in Mark 3 to the point that it’s His mother who is with Him at the very end, and whom the disciples take great care in protecting and providing for in her time of widowhood. Her devotion is born out of her son’s willingness to remind her in her weakness of His strength and calling.

In closing, there is much more to say on this matter and we’ll pick back up on it next week. For the little time we have remaining one of the lessons we can take with us is the importance of correction tied into learning. Even in Paul’s case his ministry after his conversion was delayed until he had spent three years humbly being taught the truth of God’s word by those he had been sent to destroy. Imagine the two-fold act of mercy that was. Not only did those being sought for death need to put aside their fleshly anger and discomfort, but so did Paul need to rest in the forgiveness of sins and that whatever he had learned in the Jewish schools was of dung to him now. It took a lot for both sides to come through that in grace and love, yet when you remember the object of their desire, the Lord Jesus Christ, and what He had done in His life, death, and resurrection and the example thereof He had been to those who came to hear His preaching it even more provides for us a reason to go and do likewise.

Here is a last word:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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