A Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church.Find another day here.
Friday, September 11, 2020
Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
Being perpetually overworked or overwhelmed sometimes makes us do and say crazy things. Last spring I came down with the flu and in an effort to keep from spreading my sickness to the rest of the family, I was sequestered to my own bedroom for the better part of a week. For someone who has an insatiable desire to always be “doing” something, being forced to lay in bed for days on end was like being an astronaut who had someone step on their oxygen hose. Although my body was getting the rest it needed to heal itself just as it was designed to do, the isolation allowed my mind to run wild. I was increasingly filled with anxiety and fear of missing out on important work, school, and family activities. One evening when Meagan came in to take my temperature, in a moment of extreme exasperation and frustration, I finally opened up and shared with her everything that I was thinking and feeling. I was raw and emotional, there may have even been some tears, and it was such an ugly and pitiful sight that she thought I must have actually been dying and immediately made arrangements for an in-home visit from a kind-hearted doctor. Of course, I wasn’t dying, I was actually physically much improved, but all that time alone with little more than my own unhealthy thoughts enabled me to believe the lie that my life was all a sham and now everyone knew it.
After spending time on the mountain, Jesus and the twelve went back home to Capernaum. Even with the aid of His newly commissioned apostles to help handle some of the ministry load, the crowds kept coming to Jesus. Although the ceaseless demands of the people prevented Jesus from taking a break to eat, He did not push them back or command them to leave, recognizing the telltale signs of desperation in their eager eyes and anxious voices. They came from everywhere, hoping that perhaps Jesus might do for them what He had done for so many others. Elsewhere Jesus describes these multitudes as “sheep without a shepherd,” forgotten and neglected by an elitist religious system which was originally designed to lead all of God’s people into proper worship and bring hope to the nations. Instead of caring for the nation, Jesus saw that the temple leaders were only interested in keeping up their appearances of righteousness and maintaining the status quo from which they personally benefitted both financially and politically. In Jesus, the people found something even more unfamiliar than miraculous signs and wonders; compassion.
Mark recounts that when word of the unrest got back to Jesus’ family, which, as we will see later on in verse 31 would be at least His mother Mary and some brothers, they grew concerned for Jesus’ well being and set out to try to put an end to the madness. Because it was impossible to disperse the tumultuous crowd, their plan was to literally take hold of Him by force and remove Him from the chaos. It is striking, almost jarring, to see that those who knew Jesus best, His own flesh and blood, failed to understand the true nature, mission, and ministry of Jesus. They honestly believed that Jesus was going insane and hoped that giving Him a chance to catch His breath, take a rest, and eat a home-cooked meal would help Him return to His senses.
In attempting to “help” Jesus, His family was revealing their ignorance to the reality of who He really was. Even though His conception was immaculate, His birth was foretold by an angel of God, His first visitors were bewildered shepherds, He had been prophesied over at the temple, and He had grown in stature and supernatural wisdom, to His family, He was just Jesus. He had seamlessly assumed the responsibilities of “man of the house” following the untimely death of their father Joseph. He cared for His mother and worked to ensure that she would always be provided for, and now it was their turn to return the favor and take care of Jesus. But just as He was more than a teacher and healer, He was far more than a dutiful son and brother; He knew exactly what He was doing all along.
There are many people today who hold to the idea that Jesus was simply a great moral teacher, who taught wonderfully helpful things like “love your neighbor,” “do unto others,” and “judge not.” In his book Mere Christianity, author C.S. Lewis popularized the trilemma, the idea that someone who said the things that Jesus did must be either a liar, a lunatic, or LORD. He writes, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman, or something worse.” Try as we might, we can not take a neutral stand with Jesus, believing some of what He said and did while dismissing all the rest. To deny the deity of Jesus while holding to the teachings of Jesus would be like making the argument that Hitler was a leader of men worth emulating without acknowledging his reprehensible ideology and horrific atrocities.
Jesus wasn’t cracking under pressure or pulling one over on everyone in an attempt to deceive them. He really was who He said He was. All of His teachings, all of His healings, all of His miracles, testified to the fact that He really was and is the Son of God. We are either for Jesus or against Him, there is no middle ground in the Kingdom of God.
Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, we thank You that You do not grow tired or weary. You care for the needs of the world and have compassion on Your lost sheep. Just as the masses who flocked to You in Capernaum, we are hopeless without You and desperate for Your healing touch. Open our eyes to the truth of Your word and all that You have revealed Yourself to be. We pray in Your merciful name, Amen.