I can visualize the story as if I were part of it. There was a large crowd. Jesus had just finished casting out demons, and the crowd was circled around him. I envision the scene probably looking similar to an underdog basketball team hitting a game-winning shot to beat their archrivals, and the crowd rushes the court to surround the hero. All of a sudden, Jesus’s mother and brothers come out of the stands fighting through the crowd to see him. They can’t get through but send someone into the madness to let him know his “family” was there. Upon receiving the news, Jesus responds with the odd question, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” as if he had a lapse of amnesia. After looking around, Jesus points to his disciples and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
I can only imagine the confusion created by this story in Mark 3:20-34. While the world defines family by blood, Jesus defines family by those who hear and obey God, otherwise known as Christians. Jesus just flipped what it meant to be “family” upside down, leaving the disciples, who all came from multiple geographic regions and birth mothers, looking at each other in confusion.
To be honest, prior to becoming an adoptive parent, I probably would have read this story without much thought. But now, having somewhat experienced what Jesus was explaining firsthand, it stands out more clearly. You see, when my wife and I adopted our son, we became an interracial family. There was absolutely nothing an outsider could physically see that would make them think that I am his father. In fact, that is made clear to us every time we go to a new doctor, check in, and answer the question, “what’s your relationship to the child?” and get the confused look as we respond, “We’re his parents.” These questions obviously come because the world doesn’t understand God’s definition of family. As a result, adoptive families can put the gospel on display in a unique way. Adoptive families are able to offer a picture of God’s family that sometimes more closely resembles God’s definition of family because of their diversity in backgrounds. This, in turn, allows others to more clearly see what it means to be a Christian and adopted into God’s family!
The Ultimate Adoptive Father
It’s exciting to see how God is moving in Mercy Hill’s adoption and foster care ministry, which is evidenced by the number of people getting involved. As our local church family becomes more aware of adoption, I feel certain that we will better understand how God defines family from the story in Mark chapter three. The more we encounter the question, “why does your son or child look different from you,” the more we are able to answer with the gospel in that God’s family includes all races, ethnicities, colors, and ages. By grace, we’re all adopted by God through Jesus into his family!
This awareness should also change how we approach the local church and meeting the needs of those in our Community Groups as if they were literal blood-related brothers and sisters. When a family-member goes through something hard, the family gathers around for support. Conversely, when a family member experiences success, the family celebrates together! As we better understand our adoption into God’s family through Jesus, passionate worship is the only natural response because we became an undeserved heir of the King!
-Matt Watts (MH Member)