For whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother."
I. HOW FAR RESEMBLING HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS.
1. In laying down the condition of Divine relationship, Christ does not absolutely displace human relationships. It would have been hard for him so to do, since men were being addressed, and the relationships sustained by them would depend upon the religious sanction they might possess for the measure of honor and faithful observance they would receive. That the terms of human relationship were still employed showed that an analogy at least existed.
2. The terms denoting the distinctions of natural relationships are used in speaking of the heavenly. The "brother "and "sister" and "mother," therefore, express a real distinction in the heavenly family. And there are differences of mutual service and affection which must exist within the common "bond of charity," even as on earth. In the case of those who believe in Christ, then, the beautiful variation which God has created in the affection of the domestic circle will have a use and fitness in fulfilling the duties and realizing the ideal of the Divine life. The latter has its sphere for the sisterliness, the brotherliness, etc., even as the human life; and these are modes through which the Divine love will express itself. Indeed, it may be said that the human affections of father, mother, etc., do not fully manifest or realize themselves in the merely human life; it is the Divine life in which the ideal of each is rendered possible.
II. IN WHAT RESPECTS DIFFERING FROM THESE.
1. The affections characteristic of human family will spring from a spiritual principle and express Divine love. "The will of God," or "the will of the Father," will take the place of blind instinct or selfish gratification. Thus springing from a new source they will be transformed, purified, and freed from limitation and defect. "The will of God" will be the law according to which they will express themselves; but as that will has been interpreted as salvation and universal benevolence, so the distinctions of human affection will be brought into play in furthering the redemptive scheme of the Father amongst his sinful children; and through them phases of the Divine love will be realized that would otherwise find no expression. They will thus, also, be universalized and directed into channels of service and helpfulness.
2. The Divine relationship is therefore based upon a new nature. It is only those who are born of the Spirit who can do the will of God. It is the life of the Spirit in them that changes and adapts them for the unselfish affections of the family of God.
3. The Divine relationship is a moral possibility of every one. Every woman may become a sister, a mother, of Christ; event man his brother. - M.
There came then His brethren and His mother.
(C. M. Southgate.)
(M. F. Sadler.)
I. AS REGARDS OUR TIES OF NATURAL RELATIONSHIP ONE TO ANOTHER. There is a bond stronger even than the strongest bond of nature. We may not say that Christ, as Divine, had an independence of natural affections. Yet these considerations are not to diminish the duty and affection which are to fasten relations together; no book invests our home relationship with such sweetness and power as the Bible. Yet there is a bond stronger. It is of the very last importance that the ties which fasten us together in blood and kindred should be exceedingly and paramountly strong. What parent does not feel it with his child? What husband does not feel it to his wife? Or what brother and sister do not feel it one to another? See, then, the immense necessity that the spiritual and the natural attachment run in one. Otherwise, there will be a want of sympathy. Otherwise, look at your position, worldly parents, if you have a pious child; or you, worldly children, if you have pious parents; or worldly brothers and sisters, if you have pious ones. With all you love, there is an influence at work in this world — and it may spring up any moment in your family — which may clash with the natural affections and the human obligations. And remember (it is almost awful to say it), remember, it has in it the elements of an infinite separation forever and ever. Do I say, that if your child is religious he will love you less? God forbid. But this I say, that if a worldly parent has a religious child, that child may be, and indeed sometimes must be, placed in the most difficult and perplexing of all possible relationships — a relationship of which the result may be most disastrous to peace. On the other hand, what and if the tide of grace rolls into the current of nature? What and if the omnipotence of a heavenly love wrap round and bind the human attachment? What and if relations are one in the unity of the mystical body of Christ? What and if we have our natural fathers spiritual fathers, and our natural children spiritual children, and our natural brothers and sisters brothers and sisters in Christ? How exceedingly, how eternally happy the bond! Now then, brethren, if it be so, what an argument there is here! Never voluntarily form any connection which is not "in the Lord!" And what an argument is here for continual, earnest prayer, and efforts for the conversion and salvation of those who are nearest and dearest to us. For then are they fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children indeed when the one Christ in all hearts makes one body and one soul; and the ray from heaven meeting the ray from earth, they blend together, till they glow into a perfect flame of light and love. But there is another relative duty which necessarily grows out of these words.
II. And now, God is gathering such a family around Him, and all the feelings and affections which He has planted in these hearts of ours, even the fondest, ARE ONLY THE DIM TYPES AND SHADOWS OF THAT HIGHER LIFE, when before admiring hosts He shall say, "Behold My mother and My brethren." But who are they who are so very dear to Christ? Now mark everywhere Christ's jealousy for the Father's glory, "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father." That is the road to the heart of Christ — do God's will. The determining question is, What is the will of God? Am I doing it?
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
I. What is the distinguishing trait of a BROTHER'S LOVE. The idea is not congeniality of tastes in every respect, but active support in all the struggles and difficulties of life. This, then, is the first phase of the love which is in Christ — the love of active support.
II. "The same is MY SISTER." A love remarkable for its tenderness and delicacy — different from that entertained towards a brother. This, then, is the second phase of the love which is in Christ — the being sensitive to the feelings of the person loved.
III. "The same is MY MOTHER." The love entertained for a sister and mother have the one element in common. But superadded is a feeling of reverence, honour, and gratitude (1 Kings 2:19). "Them that honour me I will honour" (1 Samuel 2:30). That God and Christ will honour sinful man confers great dignity. Such, then, are the several ingredients of the love of Christ towards all those who come under the terms here specified. Nay, all love and affection, existing among men, in whatever quarter and under whatever circumstances, may be said to be comprised in His love, into be a mere emanation from the fulness of love which is in Him. Again I recur to my image of the light. Light is one thing, though comprising in itself several hues. All the fair hues of nature inhere in the light — so that where there is no light, there is no colour. Wherever the light travels, it disparts its colours to natural objects — to one after this manner, to another after that — the emerald green to the leaves — to the flowers violet, and yellow, and crimson. And in the same manner all love is in Christ, and is from Him, as its Fountainhead and Centre, disparted among the various relations of human life. A ray from His light struggles forth in the care of the father, in the tenderness of the mother, in the active support of the brother or friend, in the sister's refined sympathy — nay, in the affectionate homage of the son. And this whole love, in all its manifold elements, is brought to converge, with unshorn beams, upon that thrice happy man or boy, who does the will of God.
(E. F. Goulburn, D. C. L.)I. CHRIST DETERMINES THE CLAIMS OF EARTHLY RELATIONSHIP WHEN COMPARED WITH THE CLAIMS OF GOD AND DUTY.
1. His mother and brethren presumed on their relationship.
2. The multitude concurred.
3. Christ practically declared the superior claims of duty — or of God, to those of earthly relations. Relations and duty often clash. But for this decision, how much difficulty, etc. How much support has it given.
II. THE WEAKNESS OF THE TIES OF NATURE, WHEN COMPARED WITH THOSE TIES TO WHICH THE GOSPEL GIVES EXISTENCE.
1. Christ asked who His mother and brethren were, i.e., who stood to Him in nearest relation?
2. He answered the question — His disciples. The one temporary, the other eternal.
3. Their comparative strength has been tried.
4. How beautiful when united!
III. THE HONOURABLE POSITION OF BELIEVERS — the kinsmen of Christ.
1. He has entered the human family.
2. He has introduced them into the Divine family.
3. As a kinsman He redeemed the inheritance which was lost.
4. He is not ashamed, in heaven, to call them brethren.
5. They take rank from Him, not He from them.
IV. THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST'S KINSMEN.
1. It is in respect of the moral nature that man is born again.
2. The Divine nature, which through regeneration is imparted, is holiness.
3. Hence the family likeness, i.e., holiness.
(Expository Discourses.)I. ITS IMPORTANCE. It is an everlasting relationship.
1. It delivers us from what is earthly and vain. It is only by the formation of a higher kinsmanship that we can be severed from the drag of the carnal.
2. It connects with salvation and eternal life. It is the grafting into the living stem of the vine.
3. It connects us with honour and glory. All that our kinsman has becomes ours.
II. ITS FORMATION (John 1:12). This is the first point at which we commence doing the will of God.
III. ITS MANIFESTATION. A life of service, of doing the Father's will.
1. Are our hearts doing the Father's will?
2. Are our intellects doing the Father's will?
3. Are our purposes doing the Father's will?
4. Is our life doing the Father's will?
5. Is our family doing the Father's will?
6. Is our business life doing the Father's will? Thus let us test our relationship to Christ.
(H. Bonar, D. D.)
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