Greg Laurie - A New Kind of Family

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    Greg Laurie - A New Kind of Family

It was comedian George Burns, who once said, and I quote, "Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close knit family, in another city", end quote. So you can probably relate to that. Guess what? Jesus had a family too. He had a mother named Mary, and a father named God, top that. Jesus also had brothers and sisters, and Jesus had a childhood, a mysterious childhood, no doubt. After all, there's never been a man who has ever walked the Earth that was fully God, and fully man. He was not a man becoming God, that's impossible. He was God who became a man.

I know it's hard for us to wrap our mind around the fact that God became an embryo, that God came among us as a helpless little baby, born in a manger, that needed to be cared for, and nurtured and nursed, like any other little baby. But that's exactly what happened, and what we call the nativity. When he was in that manger, he tried like any other baby, and he grew up like any other child. It's not like was in the manger, and with the ability to speak, "Hello, Mary, Joseph, I'm Jesus, I'm here on a mission". No, he was just a little baby, that grew up like any other baby, and grew physically, and grew in every other way.

In fact, Luke 2:52 says he grew in height, and wisdom, and was loved by God, and by all who knew him. So he had the privileges of deity, that he laid aside, as he walked among us as a man. He he never ceased to be God, but he walked among us as a human being. Well, now he's beginning his public ministry, as recorded in the gospel of Mark. And remember, Mark is a gospel of action. The word immediately is used over and over again. Jesus is on the move. Jesus is healing people. Jesus is delivering people from demonic possession. Jesus is forgiving sins, and he has been confirmed by his Father, at the baptism. When the Father says of Jesus, "This is my beloved Son in who I am well-pleased," and the Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus in the form of a dove.

So question, how does the biological family of Jesus respond to all of this? How does Mary respond? How do the other siblings respond? That brings us to our text, Mark 3:20-21. One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn't even find time to eat. When his family heard was what was happening, they tried to take him away, saying, "He's out of his mind". Wait, what? He's doing all these miracles. He's busy doing the work of the Father, and his family shows up, and they wanna take him back home, because they say he's out of his mind.

This brings us to point number one, the hardest people to reach for the gospel are those who are closest to you. The hardest people to reach for the gospel are your parents, or your children, or your husband, or your wife, or your brothers, or your sisters. Now this was especially true in the hometown of Jesus, where we read that he could do no mighty works there, because of unbelief. And Jesus himself said, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country". But now as our story progresses, we see the family of Jesus showing up again.

Now, I'm not sure what happened to bring this event about, but they let him know that they were there, and maybe they wanted special attention, or a better seat in the house, or whatever it was. But word came to Jesus, "Your family are here to visit with you". And we read in Mark 3:31, Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, they stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. And there was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, "Your mother and brothers are outside asking for you," and listen to this response of Christ, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers"? Then he looked at those who were around him, and he said, "This is my mother, these are my brothers and sisters. In fact, anyone who does the will of my Father is my brother and sister and mother".

Bringing us to point number two, when we become Christians, we're placed in a new family. Jesus could have elevated his mother at that point, or even his siblings. But he's saying, "Hey, who is my mother? Who are my brothers and sisters. Those that do the will of God," reminding us that when you become a Christian, you become a part of a new family. Now that doesn't mean you're not still part of your biological family, but sometimes the bond between Christians can be closer than what we call the blood bond. We say that we're related by blood, but when we become followers of Jesus, are we not also related by blood?

The blood of Jesus Christ, that was shed on the cross, for all of our sins, bringing me to point number three. Jesus now establishes his new family of disciples. So we're gonna read a list of the men that he used to change the world. Some are familiar names, others not as familiar. But as we look at these people, we see they had such diverse personalities. We see these people because we recognize them. They're probably like relatives we already have. An eclectic bunch, no doubt about it. But these are the ones that Jesus called. We might call them questionable hires, but each one was hand selected by Jesus. And they could not be more different from one another. We read about them in Mark 3:16.

Now he appointed Simon, to whom he gave the name Peter, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means sons of thunder. There was Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed them. So right at the top of the list, a very familiar name, Simon Peter. Apart from Jesus himself, no other name is mentioned in the New Testament more than Simon Peter. He was a central figure of Jesus' three years of ministry. And also for the first three years of the early church. And Jesus spent more time with Peter, than anybody else.

Another thing I would point out, no other person speaks as often, or as spoken to as often, as Simon Peter. I might also add, no other disciple is reproved and corrected as often as Simon Peter was. See, what distinguished Peter from others is he would just say what he was thinking. You know how you have inside thoughts and outside thoughts? And you veto a lot of things you think about, and don't say them. Peter seemed to just blurt out whatever he was thinking. You always knew where you stood with the big fishermen. I think he always meant well, he just didn't think things through.

So if we were to compare this to a family reunion, Peter's sort of like your lovable loud uncle, who will hold court, you know, after the meal, telling great stories, and entertaining everybody. That was Peter, very outspoken. Listen, Peter was not only inquisitive, he had initiative. On one occasion, Jesus said, "Who do men say that I am"? And Peter says, "Well, they say a lot of things, but I'll tell you who I think you are". And Jesus said, "Okay, go ahead". He says, "I think you're the Christ, the Son of the living God". And Jesus says, "Flesh and blood did not reveal that to you, Peter, but my Father, who is in heaven". And then he says, "Your name is Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church". Not on Peter, of course, but on the statement that Peter made, "You're the Christ, the Son of the living God".

The church has not built on the foundation of Simon Peter. God help us, if it is. The church is built on Christ himself, the chief cornerstone, but Peter got it right. And then Jesus went on to talk about the fact that he was gonna be betrayed, and crucified. And Peter begins to rebuke Jesus, right to his face. He rebukes him, saying, "Be that far from you, Lord". And Jesus said, "Get behind me, Satan, for you do not understand the things of God".

So on one hand, Peter was being led by the Father in what he said. And on the other hand, the devil got in the details, and he made that statement, discouraging Christ from going to the crucifixion. Flood character, yes. According to church tradition, Peter did die the death of a martyr. And according to church tradition, Peter was crucified upside down. But he was faithful to the end. Oh sure, he denied the Lord, but he was there with Jesus in the last hours of his earthly ministry, along with the apostle John. And though he had his lapse, and his setback, he also had his mega comeback, when Jesus recommissioned him again. Yeah, he was part of God's family. Then we have Andrew, the brother of Peter. They couldn't be any more different. If Peter was like your loud uncle at the family reunion, Andrew was like the quiet cousin. While Peter's talking, Andrew's clearing the table, and working behind the scenes. In fact, it was actually Andrew who brought his brother Peter to Jesus.

In John 1:41 we read the first thing Andrew did, after he realized that Jesus was the Messiah, was he brought his brother Peter. And he said to him, "We've found the Messiah," and he brought him to Jesus. And that's what Andrew was always doing, bringing people to Jesus. And what a great thing to be known for, bringing people to Jesus. You remember the story of the feeding of the 5.000, and the people were hungry, and they didn't know what to do. And Andrew went and found a little boy, with some loaves and fishes, and he brought him to Jesus. And you know, we give a lot of attention to the Simon Peters of the world, but we must not forget the fact that there are also the Andrews. Remember, if there were no Andrews, there would be no Simon Peters, people that work faithfully and quietly behind the scenes.

So we've got Peter, the loud one. We've got Andrew, the quiet one. And now we have James and John, the fiery ones. If Peter's like your loud uncle, and Andrew's your quiet cousin, these were the brothers who were always arguing. You know, they're at the family reunion, and they turn everything into a big debate. And they get very upset about things. These are the kind of people, that when they post on social media, it's all in caps, right? They're always fired up about something. And that is a good description of James and John. They're described as the sons of thunder for good reason. They had fiery temperaments. On one occasion, the disciples went into a village of Samaria, and the people were not responsive. They were not hospitable.

So James and John come to Jesus, and they said, "Lord, shall we call fire down from heaven on these people, like Elijah did"? Jesus was like, "Wait, what? Call fire down from heaven"? And then he had to remind them what his mission was. He says, "Guys, you don't know what kind of spirit you're of, the Son of Man did not come to destroy people, he came to save them". So he's saying, "Guys, I didn't come to toast people. I came to forgive people, kapisch"? I mean, give me a break. But these guys were very full of fire and passion. And so they were upset that people were not responsive to what Jesus had to say. They can also be very insensitive, because Jesus talked about his impending crucifixion with them, on one occasion. And he says, "The Son of Man is gonna be betrayed, and he's gonna be condemned to death, and they will flog him and kill him. And three days later, he'll rise again".

I mean, imagine hearing Jesus say that, that's heavy stuff. You would just sit in stunned silence. You wouldn't know what to say. Well, not the son of thunder. They had plenty to say, because then they blurt out, "Well, we were wondering if you would do whatever we want you to do"? Wait, what? Jesus just got done saying that he is going to die, And they say, "Oh yeah, interesting. What can you do for us"? That would be like somebody is saying to you, "Why, I just found out I'm very sick, and I'm dying, and I only have a few weeks to live". And then you respond, "Yeah, so what are you gonna do with that car you just bought? Could I have it"?

So the conversation continues on, "We want you to do whatever we ask you to do". And so Jesus says, "Okay, I'll bite, well, what do you want me to do"? We would like to sit on your right and left hand in glory. Well, they should be thankful Jesus did not answer that prayer, because what happened shortly after this? Jesus went and was crucified. And who was on his right and left hand? Two criminals who were crucified next to him. See, if he would have answered their prayer, they would have been the ones on the crosses on each side of Jesus. So thank God for unanswered prayers, right?

So we've got the loud one, Simon Peter. We've got the quiet one, Andrew We've got the fired-up ones, James and John, the sons of thunder. Now we have the skeptical one, and that of course is Thomas. When you're at a family reunion, you know everybody sees things a certain way, and Thomas is like that relative, who will say, "Well, I see it completely differently than the rest of you". That's just his nature. He was a guy who thought for himself. Of course, we remember Thomas, because he did miss the resurrected Christ, after Jesus was crucified, he rose again, and he appeared to the disciples in the upper room. And they told Thomas, "Hey man, you shoulda been there last night. Guess who showed up"? "Yeah, who"? Thomas says. "Jesus, he appeared to us". "Oh, right, yeah," Thomas says, "I'll believe that when I can put my hand in the prints of the nails, and put my finger into his side".

Well, the next time they got together for a meeting, Thomas was there, and guess who shows up? Jesus. Well, Thomas, seeing the risen Christ, just said, "My Lord and my God," and he believed on the spot. See, we call him doubting Thomas. I don't think he was a doubter, I think he was a skeptic. And he wanted what everybody else had. He wanted to see and know for himself. And by the way, you don't have to live off somebody else's faith. It's okay for you to say to the Lord, "Make yourself real to me, help me with my doubts. Help me with my questions". I certainly did that when I was a brand new believer. I was filled with skepticism. And I said to Jesus, "If you're real, you're gonna have to make yourself known to me, 'cause I have a hard time believing some of these things for myself".

And you know what, he did, and he does. And he'll do the same for you. Yeah, Thomas, if he didn't understand something, would talk about it, out loud. One occasion in John chapter 14, Jesus said, "At my father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, and where you go, you know, and the way you know". I think all the disciples are probably nodding in unison, in agreement, "Yeah, that's deep, that is really true". And it's Thomas who says, "Excuse me," I don't know if he raised his hand, but, "I have a question". "Yes, Thomas"? "We don't know where you're going, and we don't know the way". I liked that, he was honest. And what does Jesus say? He doesn't rebuke him. He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no man comes to the Father, but by me".

Listen, skepticism is not a sign that a person is wrong. It may be a sign that he is thinking. You may have children who are pushing back on the way you've raised them in your Christian home. They have their own questions. "Hey mom, how can I know the Bible is the Word of God"? "Hey dad, I'm grappling with this question". You're thinking, "Oh, what have we done? We failed our kids". No, they're thinking for themselves, they're like Thomas, to help them work through those things, and help them develop their own faith. Now I wish I had time to go into all the others that are on our list, but there's one last name that I wanna end with, and that would be Judas Iscariot.

So Peter's like your loud uncle. Andrew's the working behind the scenes guy. James and John are always fired up about something. Thomas is the skeptical one. Who's Judas? He's not the evil guy you may think. You know, when we see movies about Jesus, or religious art depicting the disciples, you can always figure out who Judas is, because he looks so treacherous. He's always hiding over in the shadows. If all the other disciples were wearing white robes, he's got a black robe, a black leather robe, with the collar turned up, wearing sunglasses, right? Not really, but you get the idea. Oh, that's Judas. That is not the way Judas appeared. He appeared as the most virtuous of the lot. Judas is sort of like your self righteous relative, who's always moralizing, judging, and putting others down. And one day you find out he is the biggest hypocrite of them all. Judas is the literal definition of a hypocrite.

Now, I don't think we even know what the word hypocrite means. We throw it around a lot. We say someone who claims to a Christian, and slips up, that's hypocrisy. That's not hypocrisy, that's humanity. Every one of us, as followers of Jesus, mess up. We make mistakes. We say the wrong thing. We do the wrong thing. Hopefully we own it, and admit it. That's not a hypocrite. A hypocrite literally defined is an actor. It's a performer, it's a person who is pretending to be something they are not. And that was Judas. He appeared to be the most virtuous guy of all, when in reality, he was the most wicked.

Here's a perfect example, all the disciples were gathered together for a meal. And we read how Mary began to wipe the feet of Jesus, with some very expensive perfume, and the fragrance filled the air. So this perfume that she wiped his feet with, because she was given an insight into the fact that Christ was gonna go suffer and die on the cross, she wanted you to do something extravagant, something next level, something to demonstrate to Jesus how much she loved him. So this has probably a family heirloom, worth thousands and thousands of dollars.

So she's anointing the feet of Jesus, with this beautiful fragrant perfume. And Judas says, "That perfume is worth a small fortune. It could have been sold, and the money given to the poor". The other disciples probably nodded in unison, and said, "You know, that's true, Judas". "And Mary, I don't know if that was good stewardship, to waste that perfume on the feet of Jesus". But then we're given this little detail, in the gospel of John, in John 12:6, Judas said that, not because he cared for the poor. He said it because he was a thief, and he was in charge of the disciples' funds. And he took some for his own use, wow. So at the moment he appeared to be the most virtuous, he was actually the most wicked. And it's this greed for money that destroyed the life of Judas Iscariot.

Let's not forget, he sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. And how did he betray Christ? When a handshake, with a pat on the back? Oh no, you know the answer. He betrayed him with a kiss. He told the religious rulers, "The one that I kiss, he's the one you're looking for". So they're in the Garden of Gethsemane, here's Jesus, and Judas approaches him, and kisses him. And in the original language, it's implied he kissed him over and over again, not just a peck on the cheek. He kissed him like, "Oh, I love you so much, Jesus". But he was just identifying Christ, so he could be arrested. He was the worst kind of hypocrite out there. But you wanna know something amazing? He could have been forgiven. Jesus knew Judas would betray him. Jesus knew Judas would abandon him. But Jesus offered to Judas an opportunity to repent. When the disciples gathered together in the upper room, for what would become the Last Supper, we read that Jesus washed the disciples' feet.

Now, that doesn't make a lot of sense to us. But back in these days, when you would go visit a person's house, the servant in the home would wash your feet. So Jesus was taking the role of a servant. He washed their feet, and he came to the feet of Judas Iscariot and washed them. If I was Jesus, I would not have washed the feet of Judas. I would have broken the feet of Judas, but the Lord even washed his feet. And then he identified Judas as the betrayer. And then he said to Judas, "Whatever you do, go and do it quickly". And we read that Satan filled the heart of Judas. So he was not some helpless pawn, no. He made a deliberate decision to betray Jesus. But even there in the Garden of Gethsemane, as Judas approached, we read, Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come"? If Judas had repented of his sin, Jesus would have forgiven him even there. But he was never part of God's family. He could have been, but he was a wicked man. Listen, we can all be a part of God's family.

You say, how do you do that? Well, you're born into the family of God. Oh, you're saying you have to be raised in a Christian home? No, not at all. You need to be born again, into the family of God. Jesus said, "You must be born again". So when you turn from your sin, and you ask God to forgive you, you become a part of God's family. The Bible says for as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God.

So you can be in this incredible family of God, no matter what you've done. Maybe you relate to one of the people I've talked about in this message. Maybe you're like Simon Peter, and you walk with the Lord for a time, but you messed up, and you failed, and you sinned. And in the case of Peter, he denied three times that he knew Jesus, but he was forgiven. Or maybe you're like Thomas, you believe, but you've had your doubts. Or you're like some of the others, who have had setbacks, but Jesus loved every one of these men. He loved every one of these women that followed him, and he loves you. And if you're a part of his family, he wants to maintain fellowship with you.

You know, when we're sinning against God, we don't break off relationship, we break off fellowship. You're still in the family, you're just not communicating. And it's 'cause we've broken communication down by our sin. But the Bible says if we'll confess our sin, he's faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and communication can be restored.

Hey, thanks for watching our TV program. And I wonder if you yourself have accepted Jesus Christ. You know, a lot of times people tune in to programs like this, who aren't believers, and they're kind of checking it out. Maybe you're laughing at it at first. Maybe you think it's not real, but something has happened, and maybe something that's been said, you've suddenly discovered you need Jesus Christ. You know, the day I accepted Jesus, let me tell you, it was the last thing I planned on doing. I didn't plan on becoming a Christian that day, but that was the day that was appointed in eternity for me to believe in Jesus. I wonder if this is not that day for you?

You've been eavesdropping, you've been checking it out, but now God's speaking right to your heart, and you realize you need Jesus Christ. Would you like to have your sin forgiven? Would you like a second chance in life? Would you like to go to heaven when you die? Would you like your guilt removed? Listen, it can all happen, because Jesus Christ went to a cross, and died for your sin, and then rose again three days later, and he'll come into your life right now, and be your Savior, and your Lord, and the best friend you've ever had. Let's pray together. Pray this after me:

Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I believe you died on the cross for my sin. And I'm sorry for that sin. And I turn from it now. And I asked you to come into my life, and be my Savior, and be my Lord, and be my God, and be my friend. I choose to follow you from this moment forward, in Jesus name I pray, amen.

If you just prayed that prayer, I want you to know, on the authority of God's Word, that Christ himself has come to live inside of you. The Bible says these things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. But let me say, God bless you, and welcome to God's family.
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