Karen Donovan of Petaluma, California had an idea. It has started off as a joke, but had grown and built up steam into an actual idea. It was called Rent-A-Wife; Karen created a small company that allowed people to rent a wife to all the stereotypical things wives do from decorate their homes, balance checkbooks, run errands, etc. Donovan, who launched her business through a small ad in the local newspaper, was already thinking bigger after four months of operation. She wanted to hire her father to initiate Rent-A-Husband and her two teens to start Rent-A-Family. “We can do what any family does,” the newfangled entrepreneur joked. “We can come over and eat all the food, turn on all the lights, put hand prints on the walls, take showers and leave the towels on the floor. When clients are finished with Rent-A-Family, they’ll have to call Rent-A-Wife. The business was launched in 1980 and although you might not be able to rent a wife, husband or teens, more than ever before people are searching for family, searching to belong, to be a part of something bigger than just themselves. Campus Life, October, 1980. In fact, in one year the average American probably meets as many people as the average person did in a lifetime 100 years ago. And yet that everyman or every woman is far lonelier.
What we are going to find today, is that the challenge to belong is nothing new. As we continue in our sermon series called Mark My Words, we find Jesus in the midst of his momentous ministry, drawing huge crowds, is challenged with a simple idea: What does it mean to belong to the family of God? You probably won’t be surprised to know a lot of what the family of God is or should be depends on the identity of Jesus Christ. Today in our text from Mark 3:20-25, we will find three possible solutions given in our text and still argued today. As we move forward, we are going to weigh the evidence and allow you to cast your verdict: Was Jesus lacking Sanity, From Satan or really the Son of Man (God in the flesh).
The first solution ironically begins with Jesus immediate family- Let’s pick up in verse 20 and watch things unfold- 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[a] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Pretty clear—they questioned Jesus- Sanity?Explanation: If the pizza guy down the street delivered your pizza and then declared that he was the Son of Man, you probably wouldn’t tip him very much, because he was crazy. What makes someone crazy? Most commonly—they think they are someone or believe they can do something they can’t. The questions of sanity however have not gone away, in fact, they have intensified online where everyone with WebMD and Psychology 101 becomes Freud.
ARGUMENT: In a peer journal the argument went like this: You will see plenty of Christian books written in defence of the faith that deny that Jesus was mentally ill and claim that he was the sanest person that ever lived. It is possible that Jesus was a manic-depressive. He said he was the light of the world (John 9:5) and the only way to God (John 14:6) and the unique Son of God (John 17). That is the sign of severe mania. He was unnaturally full of himself. (www.antisupernatural.com/deranged.html)
COMPARISON: His argument begs the question what were natural leaders like, since Jesus was he said, “unnaturally full of himself.” A quick summary of leaders during the time of Jesus gives us some comparison. There was Tiberius Claudius Nero (Caesar at the time) who was a boy-scout compared to others before and after hating to do any real work he instead made each day a drunken orgy, forcing his servants and subjects to engage with him in sexual perversion, spending decades intoxicated. Then there was the Jewish leader Herod the Great, who would later be followed by Herod Antipas who we read about in the Bible, daddy Herod was quite the guy, on one hand leaving behind huge construction projects and remodels while simultaneously wiping out those he wasn’t sure about: mainly his family. He had his brother-in-law strangled, his mother-in-law murdered, his second and apparently most beloved wife Miramme killed, 3 of his sons killed-two by strangling, had 300 of his best military leaders executed, and the Bible tells us completely out of character ordered the massacre of all the babies in Bethlehem because of a rumor in the Old Testament that a king would be born that would rival him and all other kings.
EVIDENCE: So in comparison, Jesus who was apparently unnaturally full of himself said of his mission for earth-(Mark 10:45) For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Keeping in mind that our two “natural” leaders were boy scouts compared to some who would lead, who sounds saner? Claims to grandeur are common, but claims to servanthood, foot-washing, and sacrifice? Most people who are insane have symptoms: usually they are emotionally unbalanced, illogical, and isolated. Remember back to the 1993 standoff that was national fixation, a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians were isolated, their leader had a following but only within the house, their argumentation against authorities was oftentimes illogical and hard to follow. Yet, Jesus instead of being unbalanced, seemed unnaturally aware of sincere emotion—weeping at the loss of his friend, remarkably logical mastering the law and spoken word instead of trying to master over the people, instead of isolated he transcended social, ethnic, and religious barriers connecting to people all across the social, political or economic dividing lines. Oh, and by the way, unlike your pizza delivery man who claimed to be God, actually did something besides drop off your pizza—Even the Jews who killed him claimed that he did something—denying his divinity, but nonetheless conceding his activity.