The madness of Jesus (Mark 3: 20-21, 31-35)

As early as Mark chapter 3 attempts were made to stop Jesus working publicly. His own family believed he was “out of his mind” (v21) and tried to get him away to recover his senses.

His four brothers didn’t believe in him yet (John7:5). Probably they were worried by his delusions of grandeur: – his claim to forgive sins and calling himself Lord of the Sabbath. To them he was an older brother working in the family business, very unlike them in many ways and very ‘spiritual’ to an unusual degree. And now he’d flipped. It’s not surprising “they went out to lay hold of him” (Mark 3:21) – to get him away for some rest and therapy.

With hindsight we can see Jesus was Son of Man; he is the Christ, the Son of God. For him this was an innate, matter-of-fact Self-knowledge. But no one else could see it. So his response to those who told him: “Your mother and brothers are outside seeking you,” sounds dismissive.

“Who is my mother or my brothers,” he said. Then, looking at his audience, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (3:35).

Sure, these people were his natural family, but in the Kingdom of God-the-Father kinship rests on other grounds.

We have hindsight. But to someone looking forward as a face in the crowd at the time, or as a non-Christian now, Jesus’ Self-awareness is uncomfortable. It fires the prejudice of those who only see him as a fraud or a clever blasphemer. It justifies those who see him in need of psychotherapy.

However, at Jesus’ trial (Matthew 26:57ff) nothing was found to condemn him until the high priest said, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God”.

“You have said so,” he replied. He could not lie.

It was the same blasphemous claim then, the same delusion of grandeur that induced his family to fear for his sanity. Now it led to his crucifixion.

But crucifixion wasn’t the end. To those who have encountered Jesus since his resurrection, this unflinching Self-awareness, this ‘madness’ of his, intrinsically attracts us to him. Together with his life-style and its outcome it is evidence of the One who really is God-with-us.

Dave Winfield

The madness of Jesus (Mark 3: 20-21, 31-35)

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