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For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. (Mark 3:35 ESV) With these words, Jesus declares our new identity in Him and our relationship to Him. This morning at International Lutheran Church we gather to hear God’s word and to grow in our faith in Him.

The Gospel of Mark helps us see how the Holy Spirit guides and leads the ministry of Jesus, the promised Messiah. Mark’s gospel does not waste time in showing us the real-life struggle and challenge that Jesus’ teaching brought into His relationships with the wider community and even His own family. As His popularity grew, so did the concerns of those who loved Him and knew Him. Or at least they thought they knew Him.

Two striking elements of this early passage is that Jesus is perceived by His own family of having “lost it” and by the religious leaders of “stealing away” by demonic authority the hearts of the people. Both perceptions perhaps had an element of concern or care both for Jesus but also for the people who were coming after Him. But in the end this event shows us how Jesus means to redefine all things including the primary relationships in our lives as well as those on the periphery. He does this in two main ways.

First, Jesus has not “lost it,” but rather “found us”! Sometimes we may feel like we are going out of our minds with the pressure that we face each day. We may feel like we are on the verge of mental collapse when we are overwhelmed by the endless list of expectations that we face each day or that we create for ourselves. Yet this is the good news: Jesus has not “lost it.” He has found you and me in such a way that we are incorporated into His family by work of His Holy Spirit. He has removed all our guilt and sin and given us new life in Him through Holy Baptism. He even gives us His own body and blood to live a new life in Him. As He gathers us around Himself, as He gives Himself away, we are found, we are connected, we are a part of His family. We are His mother and sister and brother.

Second, Jesus came to do the will of the Father. This is clear. That this would be seen as the work of the devil himself is of course our natural and normal response. We are not able to see or know the work and will of God except through the Spirit’s work and activity in our lives. But to reject and deny that work only can leave us under the power and influence of the devil, the father of all lies. Jesus, though, has declared that He has come to set us free and in doing so to bind up the “strongman” and to “rob” him of his possessions – you and me. Jesus came to do the will of His Father and that meant suffering the consequences of our sin. He would give His life for ours on the cross that we would be stolen out of the house of slavery to sin and death. In and through His sacrificial death, in His Baptism and in His Supper, we receive that very promise of the Spirit and the new life in Him. All our sins are removed, and we are now a part of His family forever.

Perhaps we will have an opportunity to gather with family or friends this week. As we do, we remember how Jesus has gathered us around Him and His Word this morning and every day.  We celebrate how He has brought us into this new relationship to grow in our faith and trust in Him and to see how His family continues to grow around us and through us.

Pastor Carl