Bible Reading: Mark 3
Mark 3:20-21, “Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’”
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, is widely used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental illnesses. The latest version catalogs some 365 different maladies. Generally speaking, a person is deemed mentally ill if their thinking or behavior lies distinctively outside the “norm.” And especially if there is concern that they might cause harm to self or others.
Jesus’ family had no DSM-IV manual to consult, but they heard of the way Jesus was behaving and they deemed Him to be “out of His mind” (Mark 3:21). What led them to arrive at that conclusion? A great multitude, from all the surrounding regions, was following after Jesus (Mark 3:7-9). They had heard of all that Jesus was doing (Mark 3:8). Some had experienced His healing power (Mark 3:10). The crowds grew so large that He and His disciples could not “even eat a meal” (Mark 3:20)! His family heard of what was taking place. They went to take custody of Him, for they were saying he was “out of His mind” (Mark 3:21). At this point in Jesus’ ministry, His family members were not believing (John 7:5). But not only were they not believing, they deemed Him crazy. His thoughts, deeds, and words were so out of step with the norm that those who knew Him best thought Him to be mad. They cared about Him. He seemingly had no concern for His own welfare and spent all His time and energy in concern for others.
It should be noted that there is a sense in which we are all mentally ill. Sin is at the root. Sin is an insanity. That we, God’s created, should live in a state of rebellion against our all glorious and benevolent Creator is insane. That we, despite all the evidence to the contrary, should deny His existence is sheer madness (Psalm 14:1). That we would enslave ourselves to damning and harmful vices that inflict harm on ourselves and others is crazy (Romans 6:21; 1 Peter 1:18). That we would “give approval to those who practice” such damning behaviors speaks to the depth of our sin-rooted folly (Romans 1:32). The world is a mental ward, and every sinner is condemned to it lest God intervene to affect one’s release.
Jesus is the answer to the question: “What would happen if God Himself were to come into this world to dwell among us?” Being empty of sin and full of righteousness, His manner of life was utterly distinct from anyone born before or since. He was untouched by sin’s insanity. He refused to partake of the banquet fare of worldly delights but was a glutton when it came to doing the Father’s will (John 4:34). This world has been ever-filled with sin-selfish souls greedily longing for more. But He came not to take but to give. He emptied Himself of all but love and gave all that He had. When He had nothing left to give, He gave Himself (Philippians 2:5-8). He proposed to do so to save sin-infected souls (Mark 10:45). His family may have thought Him crazy, but God was well pleased with His Son (Matthew 17:6). When it comes to determining who is normal and who is nuts, it is God’s opinion that matters.
Amongst the various mental illnesses listed in the DSM-IV manual, you will not find any associated with Jesus’ condition. It is a condition so foreign to the world’s way of thinking that it defies human diagnosis or comprehension. By the Spirit alone is a man born again and enabled to understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). Sin’s insanity can only be cured through the mind-renewing work of the Spirit (Romans 12:2). “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Don’t be surprised if the world deems you “out of your mind” for the choices you make in serving Jesus (Matthew 10:25).
It is a good thing to be “out of one’s mind” if it means having “the mind of Christ.”
May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By his love and pow’r controlling
All I do and say.
May we run the race before us,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As we onward go.