Nowadays, when someone appears to be insane their defense attorneys seek a “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity” judgement while prosecutors seek “Guilty”. I think it was the same in Jesus’ time. When reading Mark Chapter 3, Jesus’ family members seem to be acting like defense attorneys while the scribes/pharisees seem to represent the prosecuting attorneys charging that Jesus is guilty because He heals through Satan’s power. The purpose of this new post is to posit that Christ’s own family members (acting like defense attorneys) seem to be pulling the “Insanity” card. Let’s see if you agree…
Verses 7-8 show that there were great multitudes of people following Jesus. Anyone whose family member was healed by Christ would then tell others about the miracle. So there were large masses of people — both Jews & Gentiles — searching for Jesus.
We see from verses 9-12 that Jesus kept a boat nearby for times when He was nearly crushed by the crowds. We see this same thing also in Mark 4:1. In verse 12, Christ silenced the demons…it was not yet time to spread the word about His Messiahship.
In verses 13-15 there were many who followed Him — and from among those many people, Jesus chose 12 to be especially near Him. These men walked with Him, listened to Him, memorized His words, and questioned Him. They watched His miracles, watched His interaction with others, and watched His response to opposition. He called these 12 so He could send them out to preach, to proclaim the gospel, to heal, and to cast out demons.
Jesus’ family didn’t embrace Him as Messiah. We see this in John 7:5…His brothers didn’t believe in Hm. Jesus was the oldest brother in the family, and it’s easy to imagine here in Mark 3 that His other half-brothers were keeping a close eye on what He was doing. And it’s not a long stretch to imagine how they brought their concerns to Mary.
I can see a dialogue something like this developing between His brothers and their mother…
“Mother, he’s stirring up the people. He’s in danger – from the crowds, the scribes/pharisees, and from Rome. They’ve already arrested our cousin John…Jesus will be next. We have to do something mother”
Now it’s a fact that the Scribes saw and knew of Christ’s miracles (Mark 3:22). Although they never denied them, they did claim Jesus’ power came from Satan. They believed it was due to Satan’s power.
Even so, in verses 23-27 Jesus reasoned with them (my paraphrased argument follows):
“Why would Satan be involved in destroying his own kingdom? Kingdoms divided against themselves cannot stand. So why would Satan do such a thing? The evidence suggests the opposite of what you’re claiming. I AM venturing in on Satan’s territory. I AM taking from him what he claims is his…that which he has stolen from its rightful Owner. Far from being in league with him, I AM in fact plundering his house! The way to plunder a strong man’s house is to first bind the strong man. If you were looking at My actions objectively (rather than through evil eyes), the truth would be self-evident”
So far, Christ is reasoning with them much like He did with the two men on the road to Emmaus…explainingthe meaning of Scripture to them and logically reasoning with them. But that’s about to change.
Jesus now takes the offensive position in verses 28-30. Not only were the scribes and pharisees dead wrong, but they were on very thin ice.
Recall how Peter denied/cursed Jesus…yet Christ forgave him and restored him. Recall how Saul of Tarsus was a Christian terrorist…yet Christ forgave him and used him mightily. Recall how the thief on the cross reviled Him…yet Christ forgave him.
Jesus now gives the scribes/pharisees a very very serious warning: they are in danger of not being forgiven! And that’s because the unpardonable sin is to believe that Christ’s power comes from Satan. Jesus is telling them in effect: “God is patient and longsuffering, but you are walking very near the precipice.”
Now let’s turn away from the scene involving Christ and the scribes/pharisees and let’s consider His half-brothers and mother and their concern for Jesus’ well being. Even though Gabriel had appeared to Mary to tell her Christ was the Son of God, we see in verses 31-32 that her faith becomes strained…just like it would for other ordinary, fallen, sinful persons.
Along with His half-brothers, I think Mary began to think that maybe Jesus had gone overboard. We see that they arrived on the scene in verse 21 and they now seem to want to try to convince Jesus to take a little “R & R”.
Is it such a long stretch to think perhaps they wanted Jesus to return to Nazareth in their care because they felt He wasn’t thinking straight? Remember Jesus was in danger of being crushed (verse 9), and there wasn’t enough food for Him to eat (verse 20). Perhaps all of this came together to convince Mary & His half-brothers that a family intervention was needed for Jesus’ own good. In today’s lingo, His family may have been trying to protect Jesus from the scribes and pharisees by pulling the insanity card.
Now look at verses 33-35: Jesus’ response probably seemed strange to everyone there. I’m sure the crowd assumed He would pause to honor His mother. But Jesus knew what the crowd did not know: He knew why His family had come (they thought He was crazy).
Christ seems to be saying that His earthly relationships were no longer a priority to Him. And the truth of the matter is that Christ is closer to those who do the will of God than to His own earthly family.
What are some of the things we can learn from these verses in Mark Chapter 3?
1. Consider what an exciting time this was for the peoples of Palestine (verses 7-8) — the good news was spreading! The entire country was coming to see Jesus…and the only communication available was person-to-person.There was no such thing as the internet, twitter, facebook, CNN, Fox News or instagram — and yet look how quickly the Word was spreading. The people were interested in receiving physical healings…but these were all temporary. The better news is that Jesus heals us from our spiritual disease (sin). Through faith in Christ, we can inherit the Kingdom of God. We can be restored to a relationship with our Creator…forever!
2. Today we need to spread the everlastingly good news about Jesus in the same way: person-to-person Parents told their children…brothers/sisters told their own brothers/sisters…friends told their other friends. We are not responsible for how people receive the gospel…but we are responsible for proclaiming it faithfully
3. Notice the calling of the 12 — He called them to be with Him, and then sent them out to tell others about Him. We too are able to commune with our LORD…to learn of Him…to serve Him — this is our calling today. And we too have been sent forth by Christ to be His witnesses to others. If we are not interacting with other Christians…encouraging them…then can wereally call ourselves a disciple of Christ?
4. We can find comfort that even those with the strongest faith (i.e., Mary) sometimes find it to be strained. Because of Christ’s zeal for His Father, His family thought He was going overboard…even His own mother.
5. Even as others thought Christ was crazy and out of His mind, so people may think the same of us. If we are serious and zealous in our faith, then we may be called mad by the world. Isn’t it interesting that if we’re excited about sports, we’re called fans…but if we’re excited about Christ, then we’re called fanatics
6. Consider the extraordinary news for sinners in v28: ALL sins shall be forgiven! Spiritual healing is available for everyone
7. Consider the wonderful news for believers in v35: we are adopted into Christ’s own family.
To God Be The Glory!