Mark 3:20-35 begins and ends with references to Jesus's family. They seem to be not only interested in him, but concerned about him, judging by the text of the passage.
In the beginning, they are responding to what others are saying about how he's doing, and they seek to "restrain him". Restrain him? It makes sense, for as the Scripture tells us, "people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind’". Seems like a very logical and appropriate time for family to step up and help out, when someone's mental health and/or coping skills are being challenged, when the stress is making that person "crazy".
At the end, they are still hanging around, waiting for him, and they send word that they're still there, "Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you'". Again, seems like a logical and appropriate time to let him know that his family "has his back". What could be more supportive in the midst of the stress, and what would demonstrate that support more than being there and hanging with him, however briefly.
We'd all like to have family that "has our back". But that doesn't seem to be how Jesus sees it: "And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’"
Jesus seems to dismiss the concern his family has for him, and seems impatient with their presence, and perhaps with their demands. If even Jesus had family dynamics like this, then I suppose we can take heart that our own family dynamics, whatever they are, are not automatically not "worthy" of God's blessing, or sinfully imperfect, or don't live up to the standard Jesus has for family. Because it looks like that here the Savior of the World has family struggles.
Is it that they misunderstand what he's doing, or what his priorities need to be? After all, he says "anyone who does the will of God" is his family, and maybe that isn't clear to his own family, just how much Jesus is "brother" to everyone, and not exclusively to his own family. Or is it that he doesn't get how much he matters to them, and how much they want to be with him in that seemingly unique way that is family--or maybe how needy they are, in ways that are different than non-family members, and that seem (in our own experience) to call for an attention and focus beyond those of non-family? Does Jesus "not get it" rather than his family "not getting it"?
I once preached a Good Friday sermon on one of the Seven Last Words--the one where Jesus, while dying on the cross, asks the disciple John to care for Jesus's mother. I said that the interesting relationship Jesus and his mother had--somewhat strained, as this passage gets at--didn't take away from the love he had for her, and that his dying on the cross to forgive sins was for her just as much as for anyone else. Maybe that's the point here, too. Family does matter, but for Jesus it seems that ALL are family, not just those in the same household. How we live out that balance isn't always easy, or clear. It didn't even seem easy or clear for Jesus.
GOSPEL Mark 3:20-35
20 . . . the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
28 ‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— 30for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’
31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ 33 And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’