“Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.’” – Mark 3:20-22
The fame of Jesus was spreading like wildfire at this point in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus had preached in the synagogues with a new power and authority. His presence evoked many responses; one of the most interesting was that of the demon who revealed that Jesus was the Holy One of God (Mark 1:24). Jesus responded by casting the demon out of the man. People marveled at this man whom even the demons obeyed.
Beyond his preaching ministry and the casting out of demons, Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, the masses who then came to him, a leper, a paralytic, and the man with the withered hand. While this ministry sounds very exciting, there were many of the religious leaders who felt anything but excitement about the works of Jesus. They found him to be disruptive, to lack discernment in the company he was keeping, and to break the laws of the Sabbath. Also upsetting were the unusual claims Jesus made about himself: “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). While the religious leaders resisted Jesus, masses of people swarmed to Jesus. They longed to hear him and to receive the healing power that he alone possessed.
Everywhere that Jesus went, the crowds followed. It was hard to find time alone; it was hard to rest; and as the text tells us, it was even hard to make time to eat. Concerned about this crazy schedule Jesus was keeping, his mother and brothers felt a need to intercede. Bear in mind that Jesus’ family resided in Nazareth while Jesus was in Capernaum at the time. Verses 20-22 are the first part of what is called a Markan sandwich. In this instance, it seems that Mark used his sandwich form of writing for two purposes: to build suspense and to allow for travel time. Mother Mary and the brothers of Jesus had to make the road trip from Nazareth to Capernaum. These road trips were done primarily by foot so twenty miles took at least the course of a day. While I assume that love motivated their trip, they misunderstood the man who had grown up among them. Maybe they were so focused on his humanity that they missed his divinity. Whatever the case, they believed that Jesus was out of his mind and in need of their help; maybe lack of food was part of the problem.
Meanwhile, there was another group that also thought Jesus was out of his mind. The scribes traveled all the way down from Jerusalem to Capernaum. Their trip was much longer than the family of Jesus. These men traveled about eighty miles to experience the teachings and works of Jesus firsthand. Sadly, they were not motivated by love or concern for the welfare of Jesus; instead, they were concerned for their own authority and for the influence this powerful man was exerting.
Two misunderstandings of Jesus from two different groups of people. Mark wants us to notice the juxtaposition here. Jesus’ own family did not recognize that he was doing the work of God, and the religious leaders did not recognize that Jesus was doing the work of God. Both thought Jesus was out of his mind.
Jesus was ushering in the kingdom of God. The old had to go for the new to come. People just don’t always like change! Nevertheless, the presence of Jesus always brings transformation. Do we resist his words, his works, and the healing that he can bring into our lives because it is not familiar or may challenge us to perceive him or ourselves in new ways? The masses saw something unique about Jesus. They left homes and all the comforts of their lives to follow him, to listen, and to cry out for his healing touch. May we do the same today!
Reflect & Respond:
Have there been times that you have been so committed to your plans, thoughts, and perceptions of truth that you may have missed Jesus? How would he like to minister to you today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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