Welcome to the Family

John McKeel
Sunday Morning Sermon
April 23, 2017
Mark 3:20, 21; 31-35

Jesus had a family

The family of Jesus loved him very much. The Bible tells us he had four brothers and some sisters (Matthew 13:55). At first, they followed their older brother (John 2:1, 12), but something drove them apart. If it was hard for the people of Nazareth to accept Jesus as the Christ, think how much harder it must have been for his family to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah! Unlike the scribes and Pharisees, his family knew Jesus wasn’t a charlatan, but according to Mark 3:21 they said, “He is out of his mind” and they came to take him home.

There are only three opinions you can have about the claims of Jesus. Either he was who he said he was, in which case Jesus is the Son of God, or he knew what he claimed was false, in which case Jesus was a liar, or Jesus believed his claim, but he was deluded in which case he was insane. Bernard Ramm put it this way: Jesus is either Lord, liar or lunatic.

In this passage, Jesus again teaches us how to deal with rejection (he never stopped loving his family), but more importantly, Jesus taught that his disciples would be a spiritual family.


“The new model of family is not biological kinship but adoption. Sometimes our biological kinfolk desert and betray us. Sometimes our own life journeys take us far from kinfolk, or death separates us…. The church must follow Christ by ensuring that no one in the family of faith is familyless – that everyone is adopted into family…. The adoptive family has become the ideal, the model, the witness that there are no limits to God’s ability to create goodness, not even the limits of biology.”[1]

1 Timothy 5:1-2
Titus 2:4-7

What do you expect from a family?

♦ Protection
♦ Acceptance
♦ Love
♦ Tradition
♦ Discipline

What should the family expect from you?

♦ Participation
♦ Support
♦ Protect the family name

The Rest of the Story

After the resurrection, the family of Christ became disciples (Acts 1:14). Why? Paul tells us Jesus appeared to his younger brother James (1 Corinthians 15:7)! Wouldn’t you like to know more about that appearance? From that point on the family of Christ were unshakable followers of Jesus. James and Jude penned letters that are a part of our New Testament and James became an outspoken leader among the Jewish Christians (Acts 12:17; 15:13 ff.; 21:18 ff.).

Welcome to the Family!

Some Things to Think About


♦ Why would it be so hard for Jesus’ family to believe he was the Son of God?
♦ What evidence do you think convinced his brothers that he really was the promised Messiah?


♦ What should we expect from our families?
♦ What should our families expect from us?
♦ How does that help you understand being a part of the family of God?

  • John quoted Diana Garland in the lesson this morning: “No one in the family of faith is familyless,” but some people still feel like outsiders. Think of something you can do this week to change that.

If you have any questions about this week’s lesson, or you’d just like to talk, please call John (xxx-xxx-xxxx) or drop him an email:


[1] Diana Garland, Family Ministry, quoted in The Strategically Small Church, p. 130.


John 11:1 – 44

John McKeel
Sunday Morning Sermon
April 30, 2017

A Taboo Topic

Death has replaced sex as the forbidden topic of polite conversation. People don’t want to think about death much less talk about it. In the 4th century, John Chrysostom said, in talking about this morning’s passage:

“Every man is afraid of the death of the flesh; few, of the death of the soul … Man, destined to die, labors to avert his dying; and yet man, destined to live forever, labors not to cease from sinning.”

Death is inescapable. We will all die and unless we give some thought to the subject, when death knocks at our door, we will be caught unprepared. The ancient sailors marked the end of their maps with the phrase “beyond this point there be dragons.” Perhaps death is a fearful dragon because it truly is the last frontier, but what if we saw death as a doorway and not an inky void?

Crossing the Jordan

  • Because of persecution, Jesus has been forced to flee across the Jordan River to the country of Perea (modern Jordan).
  • While he is there, two sisters from Bethany, a town on the outskirts of Jerusalem, beg him to save the life of their brother and Jesus’ friend, Lazarus.
  • Notice they do not command Jesus. They don’t tell him what to do.
  • Jesus knows it is too late. Lazarus had died while the messengers were on their way.

ASIDE: We often call Thomas “Doubting,” but that’s wrong. Thomas was an amazing realist (John 11:16).

Events in Bethany

  • Martha and Mary greet Jesus in exactly the same way, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died,” (11:21, 32).
  • Verse 25 is our key:

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Notice: Jesus does not say, “I promise” or “I bring” but “I AM.”


  • Now pay attention to Martha’s response. She doesn’t just repeat, “I believe.” Rather, she says (in a literal translation), “I have believed – I have made this belief my own.” (See the NASB: ““Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God”)
  • I find verse 33 particularly revealing. Notice Jesus’s response to death. The Holman translation captures his emotion: “He was angry in his spirit and deeply moved.” Peterson’s translation says, “a deep anger welled up within him.” (same verb in v. 38)

The Miracle

The miracle itself is told simply: “Lazarus, come forth!”


Frankly, this story is frightening. Did you notice what Jesus told the apostles? “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe,” v. 14.

This story shows us how much value the Lord places on our faith. He will not screen us from the trials which strengthen our faith! (James 1:2)

  • It strengthened the faith of the apostles.

“Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith.” Charles Spurgeon.

  • It strengthened the faith of Mary and Martha.

At the worst, Christ can still work. Here we see divine sympathy most clearly.

  • It even strengthened the faith of those who witnessed it.

Afflictions often lead to faith because they cause us to stop and think.

Some Things to Think About

  • Maybe there is nothing beyond the grave. If that’s the case, the Apostle Paul observed, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” (1 Corinthians 15:32)
  • But consider this, there were two empty tombs that spring: the tomb of Lazarus and the tomb of Jesus.
  • Just as Jesus called Lazarus, he is waiting to call your name. Will you be listening?