20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22 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.”
23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Mark 3:20-35 NIV)
In yesterday’s passage, we were up on the secluded mountainside with Jesus as He called His twelve apostles, taught them, and empowered them to carry forth His message.
In today’s passage, Mark fast-forwards us from the peace and quiet of the small group gathered on the mountain to the crushing, demanding crowds back in Capernaum. The NIV says that Jesus “entered a house”, while other translations say that Jesus “returned home”, presumably to Capernaum, and most likely to Peter’s home.
Today’s text is often picked apart and examined for its various details. But it is important to step back and look at the macro view of the scene as well as the micro view of what Jesus is saying and doing. Today, we will look at the overall picture of the passage. In subsequent days, we will look at the smaller parts and see how they blend into the whole.
As Mark opens the story, Jesus and His disciples are back in Capernaum, and the crowds have gathered to have their needs met – physical healing, spiritual healing (demons cast out), emotional healing (Jesus’ message of repentance and hope).
The crowd is so great and pressing in on Jesus and His disciples that they don’t even have time to eat. Word travels to Jesus’ family of origin back in Nazareth (25 miles away) about Jesus’ preaching, His clash with the religious authorities, and the crushing crowds that won’t give Jesus a chance to eat or sleep.
Jesus’ family is concerned about His welfare and safety. They fear that Jesus has lost touch with “normal” life and is on the path to self-destruction, maybe even a psychotic break with reality. So they decide to walk from Nazareth to Capernaum (about eight hours’ walking distance), stage an intervention, and take Jesus home to rest and recover.
While Jesus’ family is en route to Capernaum, Jesus is dealing with another group of travelers, a bunch of religious experts who have made a special trek from Jerusalem to Capernaum (about one hundred miles, 3 – 4 days’ walk) to check out what Jesus is saying and doing.
Jesus hears the religious experts’ conclusions about Jesus’ ability to cast out demons because they think He is demon-possessed. Jesus calls the experts to gather around and addresses the issue publicly and first-hand.
Jus as Jesus is finishing up with the religious experts, Jesus’ family of origin shows up and wants to carry out the intervention and take Jesus home. Jesus appreciates their gesture of kindness and compassion, but respectfully declines and continues on with His ministry.
Let’s step into Jesus’ shoes for a moment. This was a low point in Jesus’ ministry. The crowds and their endless demands were overwhelming, the religious leaders were falsely accusing the Son of God of being demon-possessed. Even Jesus’ own family did not believe in His calling and ministry. And on top of all these obstacles, Jesus and His disciples were hungry and half-starved.
May we persevere through hard times, when plans go awry, and when those we had hoped we could count on for support and encouragement fail us.
May we not put our focus on the what, nor the how, but the WHO – the author and finisher of our faith and our everlasting hope – Jesus.