Mark 3:20-22 (NIV): 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 Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
Two different groups of people, two different mindsets, two different slants on the same conclusion. Jesus was gaining rapidly in popularity during this phase of His ministry; so much so that He and His disciples could hardly find time to eat. The crowds were so constant and so demanding.
Jesus’ mother and brothers had heard about all that was going on. They had watched Jesus’ amazing rise to popularity over the preceding months. They had heard about the miracles and the fact that He had dozens, sometimes hundreds of people following Him from place to place. And now He was too busy to even eat! Their feeling was, “This is getting out of hand! He must have lost His mind! We’ve got to do something or He’s going to work Himself to death!” Their motive was love and concern for Jesus, not primarily disbelief. But their focus was only on the physical side of Jesus, their son and brother, which clouded their ability to see the divine side of what He was doing. They, much like Jesus’ own disciples at this stage, couldn’t understand His “food to eat that you know nothing about” (John 4:32), and the fact that He received His strength and energy entirely from God.
The other group was the teachers of the law. They had seen Jesus work, healing the sick, casting out demons. They had also heard Him teach, and felt that His teaching was unorthodox at best, possibly even heretical at worst. His teachings on the Sabbath alone, that all of the thousands of rules that the teachers of the law had surrounded God’s law with could be completely disregarded, and didn’t rise to the level of God’s law. He even taught that it was fine to heal people and cast out demons on the Sabbath! Their conclusion was, “This man must be out of His mind, or even possessed by a demon! In fact, He must be possessed by Beelzebub himself to have that kind of authority over demons! We’ve got to do something or He’s going to mislead thousands and do irreparable damage to our religion!” They, too, were focused on Jesus the man. The only “supernatural” conclusion that they reached was that Jesus’ powers could only come from satan, since THEY were “righteous” men and couldn’t do the things Jesus was doing. The theological stronghold they had built for themselves could not allow for Jesus’ divinity, for the possibility that Jesus was absolutely correct, and that it was THEIR theological understanding that was wrong.
Both of these groups came at the issue of Jesus from two entirely different mindsets, two conflicting motives. But because they could only see one side of Jesus, they reached about the same conclusion: Jesus had to be stopped. He was doing the wrong thing, and they had to make Him see things their way.
Father, it’s amazing how terribly far off we can get when we miss the divine part of who Jesus is. Help us, Lord, to always understand that He is not only very man, but very God as well. When we do that, everything stays in focus (and we don’t have lots of things that we must “interpret” or explain away!). Amen.