“Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” -Mark 3:20-21
Jesus was busy to say the least during this period of his life. Vast crowds of people followed him everywhere. At times they demonstrated an uncanny ability to know where he was and where he was headed next. As always, Jesus taught the crowds that gathered around him- at least as far as that was possible. On another occasion Jesus was on the shore of Galilee. When the crowds pressed him nearly into the water, Jesus got into one of the boats, put out from shore a few feet, and preached from there (Mark 4:1). At other times Jesus gathered his twelve Apostles and escaped to a desolate place in order to escape the crowds (Luke 5:15,16). At other times, having finished ministering to the crowd, he would escape by boat to another region on the lake (Mark 6:30-32).
The excitement and energy of these crowds must have been frightening at times, even for Jesus. People wanted to touch him, to say something privately to him, to stay close to him, to hope for a miracle. As our verse tells us, at times Jesus didn’t even have time to eat. So at one point Jesus’ family came to take charge of him, saying “he is out of his mind.”
But why did they think that? It seems more reasonable to say that the crowds were out of their minds, and Jesus needed to be rescued from them. But they don’t say that. They say instead that Jesus is out of his mind. Perhaps they thought he was crazy for putting up with the crowds… for not doing something about it. Perhaps they thought he had lost all perspective and he actually enjoyed the mayhem of the mobs around him. Perhaps they thought he was getting political and that he would organize the vast crowds to rebel against the powers to be.
But I think it was something else that caused Jesus’ family to conclude he was out of his mind. Wherever he went, no matter the circumstance, Jesus preached his Gospel. His message was in direct contradiction with the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. His preaching angered the political powers and the priesthood. His was not the standard teaching of Judaism. It was revolutionary and threatening toward the established religion of the day.
The Gospel angered the authorities most. The message that our good works cannot save us or make us right with God, The message that we must all rely solely on the merits of Christ for our redemption. This angered people on a deep level, for they had been taught from childhood to keep the laws and traditions of the fathers and they would be accepted by God and go to heaven one day. Jesus’ own family was angry with the Gospel, and consequently they believed that Jesus was out of his mind.
Maybe our friends, acquaintances, and even family should think we’re a little out of our minds. Not because we behave in an insane way, but because of the religion we practice and the Gospel we cling to. Have we so sanitized our witness behavior and our presentation of the Gospel that no one gets upset with us or reaches the conclusion that we’re crazy? Then we need to reassess what we are doing and teaching.
The Gospel is still offensive to the world. Man’s natural, fallen religion is faith in his own good deeds as the means of winning God’s approval and earning a spot in heaven. The absolute exclusive claim of the Gospel, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Claiming to possess absolute truth in a postmodern world that believes only in relative, equal, and arbitrary truths can bring angry and resentful reactions. That is, in fact, the cross we carry in the footsteps of Christ (Matt 16:24).
Jesus’ half-brothers and sisters eventually came around and believed in him, His brother James became the leader of the early church in Jerusalem. Mother Mary stood lovingly at the foot of Jesus’ cross. But there was a time they thought Jesus was “out of his mind.” They wanted to take him and protect him from the wild influence of the great crowds following him. What they needed to learn was that Jesus needs to be set loose, not penned up at home. Some will be angry at his message. Some will be jealous. Some will be resentful. Some will think it’s crazy. Some would even crucify him again if they could. But some, maybe after many hearings, will believe and become part of his kingdom. Those who believed in and loved Jesus made it all worthwhile to him. Let the world think we’re crazy, or exclusive, or arrogant, or out of touch with the world. That’s the price, that’s the function of the message of the cross. But some will hear and believe. And that makes our efforts well worthwhile.
“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” -1 Corinthians 1:21-25