David Kolander

What Would It Be Like to Have Jesus as Your Brother?

by David Kolander on June 9th, 2024
Mark 3:20-35

Dear Brothers and Sisters through the Blood of Our Great Brother – Our Savior Jesus. Amen.

If you are blessed to have a wonderful brother – a brother whom you love and respect and maybe even adore, that’s obviously a great thing. But whether that is the case for any of you or not, What Do You Think It Would Be Like to Have Jesus as Your Brother? I would have to think that everyone of us would think that that would be a wonderfully awesome thing, but don’t you also think our lesson from Mark’s Gospel presents us with a very weird family dynamic, when we are told that Jesus’ family had come “to take charge of him” because, as they said, “he is out of his mind” – and, when Jesus was told that his mother Mary and his brothers had arrived, he replied to the man with the message, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  That doesn’t sound like what you’d expect to hear in a loving family relationship. Let’s think about what all this is all about, as we wonder what it would be like to have Jesus as our brother.

In order to figure this out a bit and in order to have this be something that means something for our everyday life and for our eternal life, we have to talk a bit about the unpleasant topic of Satan and his demons. Satan and his demons are at the heart of today’s message about Jesus, but always in a way that shows Jesus is in total control and that you and I are totally safe. 

This part of the Bible is only the third chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel, so we are very early in his ministry, but in the previous chapters Mark has been talking in quick succession about many of the miracles Jesus had already performed, like healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law who was confined to bed with a fever, like healing a man with leprosy, who said, “Jesus, if you are willing, you can make me clean,” like healing a man who was paralyzed and couldn’t walk and had to be lowered down through the roof by some friends, who so much wanted to see their friend well. 

But time and time again in these early weeks and months of our Savior’s ministry, he performed many other miracles that involved demons and impure spirits. It happened during a church service in the city of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee right next to his home town of Nazareth. “I know who you are,” the possessed man cried out in front of everybody there – “the Holy One of God.” “Be quiet,” Jesus said, “Come out of him,” and with a shriek the impure spirit came out, shaking that man, we are told, violently. A little later that same evening Jesus drove out many demons, we’re told, but he would not let any of them speak, because, Mark says, “they knew who he was.” Not that much later more people with impure spirits fell down before Jesus and cried out, “You are the Son of God,” but he again gave them strict orders not to tell others about him. And then right after all this — right at this time at the beginning of his ministry — he chose his twelve disciples, and he gave them a two-fold job description for their ministry – “to preach,” of course, “and to drive out demons.”

What is it with all these demons? Well, we heard in our first lesson from Genesis 3 how God cursed the snake and Satan, who had spoken through that snake, by saying that the coming Messiah would crush his head. And now thousands of years later was the time for the Messiah’s Satan-crushing work. There’s so much more we might like to know about this, but it’s no wonder that the devil and all his evil demon angels were going to do everything they could to discredit this Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Son of God, especially early in his ministry. It just seems that Satan was unleashing one massive brutal attack on the almighty God’s plan of salvation by taking advantage of the spiritual darkness of that time and afflicting so many people – people who had demons inside them saying Jesus was the Son of God, because of which Jesus had to tell them to be quiet, since no one would take seriously the claim of the devil about the work of God. 

That’s the backdrop for why Jesus’ family members – at least at this early time in his ministry – thought he was out of his mind and that he needed to be taken away. If we had asked his brothers what it was like to have Jesus as their brother, they probably would have said something like, “It is totally embarrassing… And we just don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

The religious leaders thought they knew what was wrong with him. “He is possessed by Beelzebub – by the devil!,” they said. “By the prince of demons he is driving out demons,” they said. And that’s when Jesus said that if you want to think about what’s crazy, it doesn’t even make sense that Satan would drive out demons, because that would be doing the very opposite of what Satan would want to do. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Jesus said. Satan doesn’t want there to be fewer demons. He wants there to be more demons. So, when Jesus says in verse 27, “No one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up,” he is saying that is what he had come to do: To rid the “strong man” Satan of any ability to bother his people. They belong to me. I have come to die for them. And three days later I will return to life so I can live in them. And I will return on the great and final day so I can forever live with them. All you blasphemers, Jesus was saying to these religious leaders and enemies of the cross of Christ, “You are saying that I am part of the devil’s work, even though the Holy Spirit of God is making it clear beyond any shadow of a doubt that I am not a tool of Satan. I am the conqueror of Satan.” “Truly I tell you, whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” And verse 30: “He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an impure spirit.”’ He is filled with the devil.

Brothers and sisters, who have the Son of God as your brother, two things about the sin against the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit, since this often gets asked about, so we never, ever misunderstand it and let Satan get us all confused in the way Satan wants us to be confused, especially if you ever wonder if you have committed the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If that thought has ever or does ever come into your mind or the mind of someone who asks you about it, you or they can’t possibly have committed it, because – like these people about whom Jesus spoke – you wouldn’t care about it one bit. “Let his blood be on us and our children,” many of them said with total disgust a couple of years later as went to his cross… You know he went to his cross – and he went to his cross for you. You are his… That’s one thing – the comfort of knowing that your brother does not ever want you to worry about this as you simply keep listening to his voice. 

And now the second thing that is also very important: While we do need to warn people not to reject Jesus, especially in the kind of way that would lead to this horrible judgment, we don’t know what’s going on in their hearts. We are simply called upon to keep reaching out with our words and our prayers to anyone who doesn’t know Jesus – so, in that sense, we don’t really make the sin against the Holy Spirit even one part of our share-the-gospel thinking, though we recognize there will be some, due to their own fault,  who will fall victim to this ultimate lie of the old evil foe – the devil. We simply continue to share the love of Christ, as it has been shared with us and continues to be so.

But because of all this, we remain humble, and we must remain humble. We know we deserve none of God’s love that allowed us to know Jesus as our Savior, but, as we sang in our Psalm for the day, we cry to our Lord “out of the depths” – out of the deepest part of our soul, as we confess we have been like those brothers of Jesus who at that time in his ministry were honestly confused by what they were hearing and seeing. What a blessing that, like for those brothers later on in his earthly family, so for us, the Lord has given us the faith to believe that Jesus went to the depths of his death in order to take us out of the depths of our sin and a life that would otherwise be nothing but tragic and without any purpose – and a death that would maybe seem like the end of our misery, but there would only be untold misery more. But Christ has rescued us from that by paying a price that Satan could not ever match – his holy precious blood – the price that guarantees we belong to the family of God and therefore can say with total humility, but with complete confidence, “Jesus is my brother.” He really is a brother we can one hundred percent respect and love and adore.

Years later as the New Testament about Jesus’ life and teaching was being written, the apostle James began his letter of the Bible by saying, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” To the best of our knowledge, it seems that this James was one of the brothers of Jesus. Perhaps one of those who earlier said his brother Jesus was out of his mind and needed to be taken charge of, now said for all the world to know and to believe that you and I need to know the mind of Jesus and the love of Jesus, because he is in wonderful charge of us – and he said here that he was not just the servant of any Jesus, but a servant of the “Lord Jesus Christ,” someone he respected and loved and adored… And then someone named Jude wrote a tiny little book right before the book of Revelation that it is very easy to miss. Jude began his letter of the Bible by saying, “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James.” Again, from all we can tell, two of those who could literally say they were brothers of Jesus wrote as spiritual brothers of Jesus so that more people could be brought into their brother’s family and have Jesus as their brother, too.

So back to our Lesson from Mark’s Gospel for one more moment. At the end in verse 33 Jesus asked, as we mentioned at the beginning, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” About God’s will the Bible says, “This is God’s command (This is his will): to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” God has given you the faith to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he is your Savior from your sins, and God has given you the desire to love others out of love for your Savior, because they need the Savior, too. What would it be like to have Jesus as your brother? Thank God that by faith in what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for you, you already know… And, because of what the love of the Lord Jesus Christ will continue to do for you and me, we’re going to keep learning…. So, be quiet, Satan! I need to keep listening to the one who has crushed your head – my Lord, my Savior, my Brother! Amen.

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