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.” And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” Mark 3, verses 20-22.
Are you afraid? Fear: isn’t that at the nub of what was really going on here? Picture Jesus, being Himself – that is, unconventional, radical, caring, teaching – being invited to a friend’s house. The folks of the town heard about the famous teacher and they crowded Him; Taylor Swift kind of crowds. They gathered in crowds so dense, so pressing and needy, that Jesus and His friends couldn’t even sit down for a meal. Imagine the subway at rush hour, or piling into a football stadium for the Super Bowl, or the Mall on the pay day before Christmas. This was more crowded. And some of the crowd seemed afraid.
His family was around him. I take that to mean that the location of this house was either near Nazareth, where Jesus had grown up, or that His mother, brothers, or sisters traveled with Him at this time. We don’t really know. All we can say is what Mark does: that they tried to shut Him down. They tried to shut him down because they seemed afraid. Afraid of Jesus’ words, afraid of the crowds, afraid of something: it’s another thing we don’t know. But they were so afraid that they felt an urgent need to corral Jesus and ‘take charge of Him.” As if they could. What’s more, they felt so strongly about it that they were willing to lie about it. “He is out of His mind.” That’s a bald lie.
It’s hardly what someone says when they love you. “Don’t listen to Dave: he’s crazy.” “That guy is a loon.” You get the picure. Hardly loving words, especially since their words fed those of the rabbis (who also followed Jesus around), who wanted to shut up Jesus in any way possible. ‘He is possessed by the devil.’ That’s what the leading Jewish interpreters said.
So here’s a news flash: they seemed pretty afraid as well. I suppose there were some who had genuine concern to protect the integrity of the rich Jewish tradition. Their fear would seem understandable since what Jesus said & did was so confrontational and challenging. What He said, however, didn’t contradict God’s commands or His love. Indeed, had they listened closer, perhaps they would have let go of their fear. And I suppose, too, there were those who were afraid of what could happen to them if the people listened closely enough to Jesus and maybe wised up. That, too, is understandable, if inexcusable. So they were afraid enough to jump to the conclusion that Jesus must be Satanic.
Tell me: how are we different? We get to know Jesus by His word and Spirit; are we afraid of what He says, afraid of what it could mean to us? The Judean people knew Him in person. They saw Him as the man He was, and came to know Him as fully man and fully God. My pastor said this yesterday: Jesus had to be both for Him to do what He did. Yet some became afraid of Him…just like some of us. Why?
Lord, forgive me my fears.
Re-read Mark 3, verses 20-34.