Family interventions are those tough occasions that arise from erratic behaviour, from conduct that is self-destructive or is damaging to others. It’s hardly the type of urgent meeting you would expect in the life of Jesus Christ.
In Mark 3, the gospel writer, having just recorded the appointment of the twelve disciples as ‘apostles,’ now portrays Jesus entering a house with crowds of inquirers thronging the property. The busyness and focus of the occasion left no time for Jesus or his disciples to partake in the ordinary activities of everyday living, namely eating.
Word of this gathering somehow reached the ears of his family. I’m assuming Mark is referring to his younger brothers and sisters, children of Joseph and Mary who had grown up in the same home together with Jesus Christ. Surely, his mother, who according to Luke’s gospel, treasured up all the events surrounding Christ’s birth and visit to the temple at the age of 12 in her heart, wouldn’t have participated in such an intervention.
Mark writes, “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Mark, in the closing paragraphs of this chapter, will contrast the relationship Jesus had with his disciples and that which he had with his family, but for now, this one statement will suffice.
What are we to make of this assessment?
1) It is easy to misunderstand who Jesus is. Without the powerful insights granted by the Spirit of God, spiritual realities are not discerned. I am frankly not surprised at all the ‘weird’ and ‘wacky’ religious ideas that circulate through our world. Truth often rides on the coat tails of a lie.
2) It is easy to misunderstand spiritual activity. Why would anyone be so caught up in the wonder of who Jesus is, that they would forget to eat? Those who prioritize ‘physical’ fitness over ‘spiritual’ fitness can’t figure out why devotion is so demanding.
3) It is easy to want to take charge of others. Read the verse again – ‘THEY went to take charge of HIM…’ Who was in charge of them? This same Jesus would later say, ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me…’ Instead of ‘taking charge’ they should have been yielding to the One who had come as “God with us.”
4) It is easy to speak rashly about what you do not understand. What brazen unbelief to declare that Jesus Christ was out of his mind! Genuine, Spirit-led activities are likewise addressed at times in haste. I am not suggesting, nor does the Bible advocate a simple ‘acceptance’ of anything and everything that claims to have a divine origin. Elsewhere in Scripture we are called, as believers, to ‘Test everything,’ to ‘Test the spirits,’ to use the Spirit-produced gift of discernment.
The wonderful ‘rest of the story’ is that it doesn’t end here. Later, in Acts 1:14 we see ‘his brothers’ gathered with Mary and the other disciples in the Upper Room, now trusting in the words of Jesus, now waiting for His promises to be fulfilled. People may change. That’s why we pray. That’s why we witness and interact with those around us. Perhaps, God in His grace, will open their eyes, bring them out of darkness into the kingdom of His Son!