The families we grew up in have an enormous impact on us as adults; all the wounds we received as children will continue to cause us hurt long after we’ve moved away from home. Each person unconsciously holds on to the various verbal and nonverbal messages communicated from his or her family of origin and these messages are hard to shake. Such messages might include: kids don’t matter; I have to sneak to take care of myself; if I want anything done, I have to do it myself; don’t trust adults; my needs don’t matter; I have to be bad to be noticed; or I have to be perfect.
Jesus also grew up in a family, who, no doubt, communicated certain messages to his maturing self, as well. In his day and age, families were much closer-knit than ours. His culture was more a culture of shame than ours, so family loyalty was highly prized. Especially as a Jew, fidelity to the family was the penultimate value, right behind fidelity to God. In fact, “honor your father and mother” was the hinge on which the Ten Commandments turned.
As we learned in a past devotional, Jesus’s family didn’t support him or believe in his mission. As Mark 3:21 clearly stated, they thought he’d gone mad. “He is out of his mind,” they said. True, Jesus was not a child anymore at this point, but, we still have to believe that messages like this are hard to absorb from one’s family, even at the age of thirty. Can you imagine if your family thought you had legitimately gone insane? There you are, sitting at home with some friends, when you hear a knock at the door. Your mom and siblings were there to take you away to put you into a home for the mentally ill. How does this scenario sit with you?
This scenario was not hypothetical with Jesus, but this is precisely what happened. Let’s pick up where we left off with Mark 3:31-35. “And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him” (31). They wanted to take him away, because they thought he was insane. How would Jesus deal with his family? In a sense, the fate of the world rested on how Jesus responded to the knock at the door.
Everyone knows family conflict is the worst kind of conflict, so let’s pay attention closely to how Jesus navigated these troubling waters. He did something I call “the reframe,” which I’d like to teach to you, so you can better handle conflicts in life.
“And a crowd was sitting around him [Jesus] and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you’” (Mark 3:32). They were seeking him to put a stop to him. They wanted to take him away by force, shut him up, and disband his ministry, because they thought he was a lunatic. In fairness to them, people were probably giving his family a bad name because of Jesus.
Let’s be honest for a moment, what would we have done? You have a direction or idea for your life, but your family doesn’t support you. You begin to express yourself a certain way and your family mocks you. You start to hang out with people nobody else likes and your family tells you to your face how much they hate your new friends. You start to become more spiritual and your family wonders if you’re in a cult or dabbling in the demonic. All this and more was happening to Jesus. You or I would have been tempted to have a pity party. We would have seriously questioned ourselves, wondering if we’d missed the mark. We would entertain doubt and probably despair, as well. We may even drop our goals and cave to the pressure of our mom, dad, brothers, and sisters. Even as a thirty year old, it’s nearly impossible to outrun the messages of our family.
But here’s what Jesus did, he reframed the entire situation. To reframe is to step back, look at the situation objectively, and retell the ‘story’ to yourself in a positive light. Think of it like this, just like the modern media seems to put a negative spin on the day’s news, to reframe is to put a positive spin on the day’s news. As we’ll learn, the very best way to reframe is to put a ‘gospel’ spin on your life.
So, Instead of falling into the pit of negativity or self-pity, this is what happened:
And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers? And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.’ (Mark 3:33-34)
If Jesus’s family of origin wasn’t going to support and encourage him, he wouldn’t let it ruin his mission—and thank God for that! In a flash of divine inspiration, he looked at his aggravating situation and put a new frame on it, saying, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”
A family is supposed to stick together and help each other achieve goals. The profoundest and truest definition of family is people who help each other do the will of God. Jesus continued, “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” True family members help each other love God, do his will, and stay the course. In that moment, Jesus reframed who his true family was, not the ones banging on the door to take him away from the will of God, but those eager strangers who’d gathered around him to hear more about his mission.
“Here are my mother and my brothers!” What a way to reframe family conflict! Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he took joy in the good he could find around him. And you could do the same.
Maybe your spouse works nights and, as a result, you don’t get to have family dinners together. Instead of bemoaning this, reframe it: you can have breakfasts together and be the first people each other sees every day! Maybe you went through a horrible breakup in a relationship. Instead of beating yourself up and repeating to yourself all the predictable putdowns, reframe your story by celebrating the person you can become. You have the opportunity to learn more about yourself, grow in character, find a new ministry, and become a well of compassion to others in need.
Or perhaps you just had a really bad day. Reframe it and say, “Everybody has bad days and I know good days are to come; one thing I know for sure is God’s mercies are new every morning.”
By reframing your life, you take yourself out of the victim’s seat and learn to see the positive things that are happening in your life. It may take some time to get the hang of, but keep at it and you’ll get better.
Here’s one more thing about learning to reframe. The best “frame” you can use is the cross. The cross is the secret power behind Jesus’s words about his new family. Because Jesus knew about the cross, he was able to foresee it’s profound and eternal effects. The cross tears down walls between people and unites us all as one. Strangers and enemies become family, because of the cross. By peering through the frame of the cross, Jesus could see the reality of his eternal family, even while his earthly family rejected him.
There will be moments in your life that feel cursed, but don’t let the curses of this world write your story. The gospel means your story is actually “good news.” The gospel turns every failure into good news, every loss into good news, every disappointment into good news, and every struggle into good news. How? Jesus absorbed all curses on the cross and exchanged them for blessing. Look through the frame of the cross to reframe your life and discover a treasury of blessing.
We’ll help you along the way as we continue to dig deeper into Mark’s gospel. But for now, that’s the end of chapter three! If these devotionals have been helpful, be sure to share them with your friends!
- Do you have family conflicts? How does knowing a little more about Jesus’s story help?
- What are the negative ‘stories’ you’re telling yourself right now? How could you reframe one of them?
- The cross is a treasure chest of riches for us. Can you name some of the treasures that come from the cross? Try to name at least ten of them.