Society has little place for those deemed to be insane. The history of America’s mental institutions—“insane asylums,” as they used to be called— gives a small glimpse into the handling of those who have lost their abilities to reason soundly. John Hinkley Jr. was sentenced to an asylum for his attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan and spent 36 years in a mental institution.
So it is no small thing when Jesus’ family accused him of being “out of his mind” (v. 21). They believed the schedule He was keeping, which even prevented Him and His disciples from eating, was far too taxing. Eighteenth century English Baptist pastor and scholar, John Gill, says that Jesus’ family, in what they perceived as an act of kindness, wanted to take Him home and confine him as a madman! Some accused Jesus of being insane while others declared Him demonic.
The teachers of the Law said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub” (v. 22). They attributed the casting out of demons to the ruler of demons. Jesus responded to these accusations and recognized that acknowledging the true origin of His works is a matter of eternal importance. It distinguished true family members of Jesus from those who would be eternally condemned as blasphemous.
Jesus explained that He could not be demonic, for a kingdom cannot fight against itself and be victorious. With such a serious accusation, the teachers of the Law were ascribing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Jesus gave immediate judgment to the teachers of the Law, members of the only generation who could accuse Jesus directly, but the force of His warning still applies today. It is important to understand that Jesus serves in the power of God. We need God’s power too, if we are to do His will.
Few understand the pain of loving someone with a brain injury or debilitating mental illness. Few are sensitive to the struggles faced daily by spouses, parents, children, siblings, and caregivers. One way to live out the truth of being a part of God’s family is to be a respite giver. Ask an affected family at church how you might serve them.