Mark 3:20–21, 31-35
Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. But when [Jesus’] own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.”… Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.” But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”
What is Christmas? It is the public celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior. On this day we celebrate that the eternal Word of God, the only begotten Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity joined Himself to human nature and was not only conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary but was born of her and manifest among men. He was wrapped in cloths and laid in a manger. He was proclaimed by angels and worshiped by shepherds.
Christmas is intended to be a joyful affair – thanksgiving for the gift of forgiveness and new life and light that God has given to men. The angels announced, Glory to God in the highest! And on earth, peace, goodwill toward men. For the shepherds this was glorious news. They longed for the glory of God and so went and worshiped the Christ Child.
But for those who will not give glory first to God and only then to one another, Christmas is not an occasion for celebration. Christmas divides: the shepherds celebrate; Herod plots and plans. Christmas announces that there is a new King and that His Name is Jesus and that all men and nations are called to worship and serve Him. It announces that peace with God comes only through the sacrificial death of this King who reconciles us to God. It insists that goodwill is the fruit of His reign, the product of His Spirit at work in the lives and characters of men and women and children.
And so we read our text today: Who is My mother and who are My brothers? Jesus’ words often shock us. Who is your mother, Jesus? She is Mary – that woman who bore you in her womb, who carried you on her knee, who fed you at her breast. She is your mother! We remember her every Christmas; we have memorialized her in song, in statuary, in painting. We see her in our minds’ eye, bending over the manger, caring for the newborn child. Who is your mother? How can you ask such a question?
But Christmas cuts. Christmas divides. And at this time Mary, even Mary, appears to have been wavering in her loyalty to her son; his brothers, who did not yet believe in Him, were petitioning her to control him – “He’s gone too far, mom! We’ve got to protect the family name! Let us go speak with him.” And so Jesus asks, Who is My mother and who are My brothers?
You see there is a reason that it is profitable to have a Christmas service every year. Having a Christmas service reminds us that Christmas is not ours. Christmas does not belong to me; it does not belong to my family; it is not a nice family tradition. Christmas belongs to the Church, it belongs to the people of God, it belongs to the family of those who say, “Jesus is Lord!” Christmas summons us to consider our allegiance: Is Jesus your Lord or do you worship some other god? Christmas calls us to declare with the angels, Glory to God in the highest! And on earth, peace, goodwill toward men.