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Unclean spirits testify to Jesus’ identity

In Mark, Jesus begins his ministry with a bang.

His first act of ministry after his baptism, his temptation, and the calling of his disciples is to heal a man with an unclean spirit.

The spirit recognized him as the Holy One of God and Jesus cast the spirit out. He continues to heal, and preach, and confront the Pharisees on controversies about fasting and working on the Sabbath. Then when the crowds pressed around him at the side of the sea, unclean spirits “fell down before him, and cried, ‘You are the Son of God!’” (Mark 3:11). In other words, it has been clear both to the crowds and to the unclean spirits that Jesus is working by God’s power.

But even with all this evidence there are some who question and do not believe. Obviously, the Pharisees did not like their authority to be questioned. And others thought Jesus was crazy with the outrageous claims he made about himself. Even Jesus’ family was worried. People were saying that he had gone out of his mind. His family did not know what to think. They came to see for themselves. They loved Jesus and were proud of him. Now they were perhaps a little embarrassed. They stood on the fringe of the crowd and tried to get his attention.

People saw what was happening and said to Jesus, “Behold, your mother, your brothers, and your sisters are outside looking for you.” (Mark 3:32). Jesus responded by asking, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (v. 33). And then he answered his own question: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (v. 35).

Jesus was not being disrespectful to his family but was setting forth an important principle. In Christ, there are ties stronger even than blood. Anyone who does God’s will is Christ’s brother and sister.

When Jesus calls us to obedience, he is not being a tyrant. He knows more and sees farther than we do. He designed the Kingdom of God. We need him to show us how we fit into that Kingdom. Obedience to Christ is not optional. It is an important part of Christian discipleship. Until we obey Christ, we are just part of the crowd. Once we obey Christ, we become part of his family––his brothers and sisters. Let us devote our lives to obeying his will––so that we too might be sons and daughters of our Father who is in Heaven.

REV. DALE BROWN is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian Churches. His email address is dalembesq@aol.com.