Who Is Jesus: Maniac or Messiah?
Scripture: Mark 3:20-35
Due to technical difficulties, we only have the written content of the sermon.
Rudyard Kipling, an English novelist, once wrote about families, "all of us are we, and everyone else is they." A family shares things like a name, possessions, memories, smiles, hugs, joys, and even sorrows. A family is a clan held together with the glue of love and the cement of mutual respect. A family is shelter from the storm, a refuge when life gets hard. To many people, family is everything.
Well in our text this morning, we are going to meet the family of Jesus. But this meeting isn’t going to be one of joy and celebration. In fact, in our text, this is sort of a family intervention as Jesus’ family thinks He is a crazy maniac, who has lost His mind.
But before we get into our passage, we need to understand the context of Mark and what has happened up to this point. Last week we saw Jesus choose the Twelve. And after Jesus chose the Twelve, He then is up on the mountain and has this crowd around Him and that is where He gives the famous Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. This is up north of the Sea of Galilee, probably located up above the town of Capernaum. Then, after He gave the sermon, He went down to Capernaum and he healed a Centurion’s Servant. Then, He left Capernaum and went to a city called Nain, it was located southeast of Nazareth, and here He raised a widow’s dead son from his coffin during the funeral procession. And during this whole time, the crowds are following Him and watching all that He is doing.
John the Baptist then sends his disciples to ask about Jesus (John was imprisoned) and Jesus gives word back to John the Baptist that He is the Coming One.”And then Jesus pronounces judgement upon all the cities who have seen His works and yet have not believed… and one of these cities is His hometown of Capernaum. Then He goes to Simon the Pharisees home where a woman anoints Jesus’ feet and He forgives her sin. We don’t know the exact location of this Pharisee’s home, but it was somewhere in Galilee. Now, why do I give you all of this background like this?
Because Jesus has been busy, He’s been out doing ministry, He’s been traveling and ministering to people and crowds are following Him, but He just wants to go back home and have a meal. He is hungry. Which leads to our text this morning. And we will look at verses 20-22 and call this section. The Pronouncement Against Jesus. Look at verse 20, “And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal.”
Jesus comes home to Capernaum and there is the crowd again they want to see Him so they flock to His house and pack it out just like they did back in 2:2, “And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.”
It’s a packed house again, again most likely at the home of Peter and Andrew, and Jesus and the Twelve are there but they were not even able to eat a meal together because the house was so packed and there is Jesus continuing to minister to people. But as the people are packed in the house some of his closest friends and relatives show up. Look at verse 21, When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” His closest friends, probably even relatives, show up, and we will see His own personal family here in a bit, but these people show up and they want to take custody of Jesus. Literally, it means they want to arrest Him. They want to capture Him and take Him home to Nazareth. Why? Well look at the pronouncement that they make against Him. They were saying, “He has lost His senses.” That word that is used in the Greek literally means, “the inability to reason normally.” They are saying, “He’s a maniac… He’s a lunatic… He’s completely lost His mind…” So they want to capture Him and take Him back home where they can get Him away from the crowds and hide Him. Today we would say something like, “put that man in a mental hospital or a nuthouse or the psych ward.” He’s lost His mind and we need to protect Him from Himself.
Now, think about this, there is Jesus, a 31 or 32-year-old man and His family is wanting to arrest Him because they think He has lost His mind. But Matthew gives us some more details about this account. Hold your finger in Mark 3 and turn over to Matthew 12:22-23. “Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?”
Now, why would the crowds ask this question? Because they recognize that all of the miracles that Jesus is doing are messianic signs. The term “Son of David” is a title for the Messiah. Later on, in Matthew 21:9, the people would call Him the Son of David as they welcomed Him into Jerusalem as the Messiah, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” And what they are saying here in our account is, “He’s not the Messiah is He?”
The Pharisees are standing there, and they are probably on the fringe of the people gathered at Jesus house, the crowd has a question and the Pharisees have an answer for them because they don’t want this title applied to Jesus. And they make a pronouncement among themselves because the crowd asks if Jesus is the Messiah. But what do the Pharisees answer???
Turn back to Mark 3 and look at verse 22, “The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.’” Not only did His family make a pronouncement against Him, but now the religious leaders make a pronouncement against Him. And what do they say? He is possessed by Beelzebul.
Now Matthews account tells us in chapter 12 verse 25, “And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them.” So it probably wasn’t that the Pharisees are shouting this out to the crowd, but that they are saying it amongst themselves and amongst themselves, they accuse Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebul.
Now who is Beelzebul? Some say that this phrase means “lord of the flies” meaning “lord of the dung.” But more likely it is referring to the “lord of the dwelling” meaning “the lord of the evil spirits.” And what they are saying is that Jesus is an agent of Satan. They are attributing all of the works that Jesus has done as God in the flesh, to the power of Satan.
And what was one of the big things that Jesus did? He cast out demons, right. In fact, Matthew tells us that He had just done this in front of this crowd. And their pronouncement against Him was, “He cast out demons by the ruler of the demons.”
Now, this statement could mean that Jesus is casting out demons by the power of the demons. But as one commentator says, “More probably [this statement] was intended to convey the thought of Jesus’ intimate union with Satan as the explanation of His power.” That is to say, “He was in alliance with Satan as Satan’s subordinate.” They are giving the rulership to Satan and saying that Jesus comes under the authority of Satan to cast out demons.
They recognize the power of Jesus, and they know that it’s supernatural and there are only one of two choices for them. Either this is by God or by Satan because they know it’s supernatural. And they take all credit away from Jesus and they accuse Him of being used by Satan. They flat out reject any kind of authority that He has as the Son of God. The people saw the works, and the Pharisees saw the works that Jesus was doing. But their hearts were so hard towards Him that instead of accepting who Jesus said He was they attributed all of His works to Satan.
They are saying, “He’s not the Messiah. I mean, He doesn’t even accept our religious system.” He eats with sinners and tax collectors. He does work on the Sabbath. Certainly He is not the Messiah. The Pharisees goal is to infect the crowd with this lie. They want the people to turn against Jesus. But before these Pharisees can give their answer to the crowd, Jesus, knowing their thoughts, confronts their lie.
Which leads to our next point, the Parable by Jesus. Look at verses 23-26, “And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan?If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!’”
Jesus calls the Pharisees to come closer to Him and He starts teaching in parables. Now why parables? Well Jesus often used parables in order to hide truth from unbelievers. He would teach them in parables as a sort of judgment upon them. They had ears to hear but couldn’t listen. Believers, however, would hear and understand. But this parable that Jesus gives is pretty clear, and these Pharisees would be able to understand this. And look at how Jesus starts off, with a question. Questions are a good way to refute lies. Put it back on them, “How can Satan cast out Satan?”
The people saw and knew that Jesus was casting out demons, so this pronouncement that Jesus was doing it under the power of Satan is pure stupidity and nonsense. For Satan to cast out Satan does not make sense. No rational, intelligent being would ever do this. Satan is a fool, but even he would not do something like this to his own kingdom. And that is why Jesus says, “If a kingdom divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”
He’s telling them that Satan would not cast demons out of people and upset his own plans. That would go contrary to his own plans and he would essentially be defeating himself. His house cannot stand and his whole kingdom would come to an end. So the fact that these Pharisees have attributed these works that Jesus is doing to Satan is pure stupidity.
And then Jesus uses another illustration for them in verse 27, “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.” He explains to them that no one can enter into a strong man’s home and plunder it unless that man first binds the strong man.
Now, who is the strong man in this illustration? Satan is. And his house is his kingdom, the domain of darkness. Colossians 1:13 says “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Satan is “the prince of the power of the air,” Eph. 2:2 He is “the ruler of this world,” John 12:31. And Satan uses the demons as his servants to do his work. And those human beings whom Satan has in his power are his plunder.
And Jesus whole point is that, in order to deliver these people from the power of Satan, first, someone has to bind Satan. So the very fact that Jesus has delivered these demon-possessed people is proof that He has overpowered Satan, bound him, and therefore, proves that Jesus is the master of Satan not the other way around. But the very fact that these Pharisees have attribute the works that Jesus is doing to Satan shows their hardness of heart.
And Jesus then gives them a warning against this, which leads to our next point, the Proclamation from Jesus. Look at verses 28-30, ““Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Jesus turns from a calm parable about His authority over Satan now to a stern warning. He goes from defense to offense. He goes from defending Himself now to proclaiming the truth with a warning. This phrase, “Truly, I say to you,” always introduces a statement of importance. This word in the Greek is a transliteration of the Hebrew word hamen which means “confirmed” or “verified” or “truly” or “surely.” When we say “Amen” at the end of the our prayers, that is what we mean. What we are saying is “truly may it be” or “so be it.” But Jesus, in this formula that He uses, “Amen, lego humen” or “Truly, I say to you.” He is saying listen up. It conveys the thoughts of truthfulness and authority. “Look, what I am about to say to you is true and authoritative, so it would be wise of you to listen up!”
And then He starts with this broad statement of forgiveness. All sins shall be forgiven, and even the blasphemies they utter, implying here that blasphemies against the Son and Father. Look, words spoken against the Father and Son, are forgivable. But there is one sin that is not forgivable, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. that sin is never forgivable. But whoever does this is guilty of an eternal sin. And Jesus was saying this to these guys because they were attributing the works that Jesus was doing by the power of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit,” verse 30.
Now, what is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and can people commit this sin today? Well, we don’t have time to go into it today, but show up on Wednesday night as we will devote our whole sermon to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus gives this stern warning to the Pharisees and those in the crowd who are sitting there listening. Look, you can see that the Pharisees have already hardened their heart to Christ. But this warning extends even further to those in the crowd who are listening. And Jesus is telling them, “don’t do this!” Don’t be like the Pharisees who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Don’t harden your heart towards Christ.
And there may be some of you here this morning who have this same attitude towards Christ. You have a hard heart towards Him. But I’m here to tell you that it is not too late to come to Christ. Turn to Him in repentance and faith and receive the gift of eternal life that He offers today. Come and be a part of the family of God. But don’t try and come on your own terms. You cannot save yourself. You must fall at the feet of Christ and beg for mercy and trust in Him with your life and give Him your whole heart.
Which leads to our final point, the Priority of Jesus. Look at verses 31-35, “Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.” Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
Mark now continues from verse 21 where Jesus family and friends have come to take Him back home, and now we see exactly who in Jesus family were there. Mary, his mother and His brothers, and implied is His sisters too. Mark 6:3 tells us that Jesus had sisters too. This is a family affair, a family intervention. They have traveled from Nazareth to come and get Him. Now, notice Joseph is not mentioned here. Most scholars believe that Joseph has died at this point. He isn’t mentioned anywhere in Jesus adult life and we even see at the cross where Jesus tells John to take care of Mary because Joseph is not around to do that.
Now, Jesus has just been opposed by the Pharisees, which shouldn’t shock us as we understand their false system. But now He is opposed by even His own family. His closest people are against Him. But they can’t get in the door to get Jesus, so they have to send word to Him. And this crowd, the Twelve and other disciples, are in the house sitting around Him and they give Him the word that Mary and His siblings are outside. Notice, Jesus doesn’t say, “Oh, invite them in!” But He says something that would have shocked these people sitting there listening. He says,“Who are My mother and My brothers?”
In Jewish culture, family was everything. One commentator says, “In the Middle East,…loyalty to one’s own family, clan, and nations was among the highest of cultural values.” Now, Jesus doesn’t say this as some disrespectful statement towards His family. He obviously loved His family. We see His love for Mary at the cross. We know His brother James came to believe in Him. He loves His family. So why does He say this? He is showing them what true relationship are like in the kingdom of God. They are spiritual, not physical.
And that is why He looks at all of those who are sitting around Him and those who are closest to Him who believe in Him and says, “Behold My mother and My brothers!” He is saying, look, the relationship that matters the most is the spiritual relationship that one has with Jesus. This commentator continues on, “He is establishing a new society in which family is defined not by ethnic or national identity but by common allegiance to the kingdom of God and his purpose in the world.”
The physical relationship won’t get you into heaven. And especially for these Pharisees who are standing there thinking that just because they are born Jews that that will get them into heaven, It doesn’t work that way. Even being so close as to be a brother or sister of Jesus won’t get you into heaven. You must be born again spiritually in order to enter into heaven. That is the priority for Jesus.
And He ends with this in verse 35, “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” What is the will of God? The very message that Jesus came to preach, repentance and faith. The will of God is that you would repent and believe in Jesus. And if you do that, you have a relationship with Jesus that matters most because it is an eternal relationship with Him. But you can’t get in on someone else’s faith. It’s not like a gym membership that offers Family Fridays where you can get your family in for free. You don’t get in because you are Methodist or Lutheran or Catholic. You don’t get in because you were born into a religious family. You must believe in Jesus the Messiah who came as the Lord of all. And you must make Him Lord of your life.
In closing, who do you say Jesus is? His close relatives thought He was a maniac, the Pharisees thought He was from Satan, the crowd wondered if He was the Messiah, and they got it right. He is the anointed one who was sent by the Father to redeem the world spiritually. But the Scripture also tells us that the Son of David (the Messiah) will establish His kingdom on earth where He will sit on the throne of David. 2 Samuel 7:12 says, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers (David), I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
This covenant that God is promising to David is for the Messiah, the Son of David, whom Jesus has proven Himself to be, He is the King who reigns forever. Is He King over your life? And if so, do you live to show the world that He is King? Our lives ought to reflect His Lordship! Is He first in Your life? Is He above your family? Your friends? Your job? Your hobbies? Is He Lord over your life? Who do you say Jesus is? He isn’t a maniac; He is the Messiah. May our lives reflect that as we seek to be people who live for Him.