24: He’s Out of His Mind (10:45am Traditional)

24: He’s Out of His Mind (10:45am Traditional)

Series: 24: A Day in the Life of Jesus
Title: He’s Out of His Mind
Date: Recorded on 6th June, 2021 for use in the 10:45am Traditional Recorded Worship on the 13th June, 2021
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
Bible Reading: Mark 3:20-35

We start a new sermon series based on the gospel lectionary about an incredibly intensive 24 hours in the life of Jesus. Just before the 24 hours hit, there was a discussion about Jesus’ work/life balance including an assessment from his family that he was “out of his mind”. How do we respond to people’s expectations and deadlines … and how can we find the right balance between work / family / rest? This sermon series will be closer to home than many of us would like to admit, but very useful in navigating a helpful response to the busyness of today’s society.

As I have already mentioned, today we are starting a new sermon series looking at this issue and I acknowledge right up front the irony of someone like me preaching on the topic of work/family/life balance.  I am not a good person to preach on this because I will struggle to practice what I preach … or maybe I am a good person to preach on this topic because I know that I am not good at this and I do struggle.  I am a person who says yes too often and pushes myself to do more than I should.  But what I am going to show you over the next 4 weeks is that Jesus also struggled with this too. 

Yes, we like to say that Jesus was the perfect example, but even the most perfect person struggles when life stacks up against them.  Using the gospel lectionary readings for June we are going to look at a ridiculously intensive 24 hour period in Jesus life when he was overwhelmed with one thing after another – and maybe exploring how Jesus coped and responded we might be able to reflect on how we respond when we are overloaded too.

But to give some context to this Day in the Life of Jesus, we are actually going to start just before the 24 hours hit – a prologue so to speak – because the lead up to the intensive 24 hours gives us some important details in understanding where Jesus is coming from. 

As a gospel writer – Mark doesn’t muck around getting to the point of the Good News of Jesus.  In his rush to explain who Jesus is, he skips over the Christmas story and dives straight into the life and ministry of Jesus.  Today’s bible reading is just a mere three chapters into Mark’s 16-chapter gospel and so far Mark has dealt with Jesus Baptism, Temptation, call of Simon and Andrew, numerous healings, his first preaching tour, the call of Matthew, some teaching about fasting and the sabbath, the first grumblings about wanting to kill Jesus, more crowds, more healings, and the calling of the remaining twelve – all in just 93 verses of scripture. 

We get this impression that it is all happening – both from the pace of Mark’s writing but also in actual fact within Jesus life and ministry.  It is all happening.  And so we get to today’s reading … which is immediately before the crazy 24 hours … and what is happening.  Jesus has come home for the first time since he has started his ministry.  He has gone from the local carpenter to the regional preaching and healing superstar. 

Jesus is in a house and there is so many people wanting to see Jesus, hear or Jesus’ teaching or to be healed by Jesus that Jesus and the disciples can’t move.   They are stuck in the house, and they can’t even stop for lunch.  The crowds keep coming, the needs are so great, Jesus just feels he needs to keep going and he will get around to eating at some point.

Ok – before we get to the reactions of people in the Bible.  What are we thinking at this point?  If you saw me working so much that I didn’t have time to eat, what would you say to me?    I know that Jesus is supposed to be perfect … but was Jesus right in putting the needs of the people above his own needs? 

The bible reading gives us two different reactions to Jesus’ behaviour and I think it is worth a bit of a closer look at each of them:

The first reaction is of Jesus’ family.  Remember he has travelled back near his home town for the first time and so his family has the chance to come and see him.  But what is their reaction to Jesus’ busy schedule and him not eating?  He must be out of his mind!  They just don’t understand what Jesus is doing … he has left a successful carpentry business to what … work longer hours, have more demands, not get paid for it and have no time to eat.  Why is Jesus doing this?  He must be out of his mind.   His family just doesn’t understand.   

Have you ever had a similar experience?  Have you had people question why you serve in the church?  Or give money to a church or charity?  Or why you keep helping people who don’t give in return?  I remember when I was telling the Dean at my Uni that I was leaving my tenured position to go into ministry … he thought I was crazy.  He saw me as a future head of school or professor and thought I was giving up a huge opportunity to … what … to help a few old people in church?  He just didn’t understand.

Actually – Jesus family went a step further than not understanding.  Have a closer look at verse 21- When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Jesus’ family weren’t just disagreeing with Jesus, they wanted to commit Jesus.  They wanted to forcibly take Jesus away from the crowds and look after him.  I’m sure it was coming from a place of love, but it is a full on response.

But the response from the teachers of the law was even harsher.  They responded by saying that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul – by Satan himself.

Whereas Jesus family were driven by concern, the teachers of the law were motivated by fear.  The Jewish religious leaders had worked out a power sharing arrangement with the Romans and they were scared that someone like Jesus was going to destroy what they had.  Listen to them speak in John 11:47-48, “Here is this man [Jesus] performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

They were afraid but it was obvious that the ordinary people loved Jesus because crowds of people just kept coming.  The religious leaders couldn’t deny the reality of the miracles or the truth of the teaching, so their only defence was to insinuate that Jesus did them by the power of the devil!  (This approach is still used by people – accuse someone who is going good of being associated with an ideology or group which is bad). 

So how does Jesus respond to these criticisms from his family and the teachers of the law?  Rather than peacefully defusing these difficult situations, Jesus pokes back.

When his mum turns up and sends a message that she needs to see him, Jesus replies, “Who is my mum, who is my family.  You all are my family.” And basically brushes them off.  And to the religious leaders, Jesus basically accuses them of the “unforgivable sin” – blaspheming against the Holy Spirit! 

Things are a tinderbox ready to explore … people are passionate, the crowds are pressing, the family is demanding, the religious leaders are accusing, Jesus is stirring back … and this – this is the context for which this crazy full-on 24 hour day in the life of Jesus is just about to happen.

(Do I need to go out on a tangent and explain the unforgivable sin?  Maybe, I don’t want anyone to be worrying about accidently doing the unforgivable sin and never being able to find forgiveness).

There is a longer, more complex answer but I have a short, simple answer that was given to me as a teenager.  I remember reading this and getting worried – I did not want to do the unforgivable sin, so I asked a nice older lady (who was one of my theological go to people) and she said that God is a forgiving God and God can and will forgive anything and anyone who humbles themselves and asks for forgiveness.  The unforgivable sin – she explained – was when a persons heart becomes so hard, so closed up, that they cannot or will not come to God and receive God’s grace.  God cannot forgive a sin of a person who has their back turned towards God.  If a person never turns around – then that is when a sin becomes unforgivable. 

Do you like that?  So in this situation – Jesus was warning the teachers of the law that if they were so stuck in the status quo that they could not see the Messiah before their eyes … or worse, accusing the son of God of being possessed by Satan … they were verging on the unforgivable sin.  They needed to turn around while they still could.  As I said, there is a more complicated answer … but everyone happy with that answer for now?  Let’s come back from the tangent.  What was I saying?

Things are a tinderbox ready to explore … people are passionate, the crowds are pressing, the family is demanding, the religious leaders are accusing, Jesus is stirring back … and this – this is the context for which this crazy full-on 24 hour day in the life of Jesus is just about to happen.

Have you every experience this phenomena in your life.  When things are already hard, we are already physically, emotionally and spiritually drained … how is it that it seems that it is at that moment that the universe decides to send us a crazy full-on day.    Who is relating to this?

How we cope with that intensive day when we are already drained in the topic for the next few weeks, but in this prologue to the 24 hours I just want to finish with two last question…

Firstly, If Jesus was all-knowing … and knew that over the next 24 hours he was going to some of the most intensive times of ministry he would experience … then why did he let himself get run down in the lead up to it.  If he knew that he would need all his physical and emotional energy in the coming day, then why was he in the lead up to it, working non-stop, not eating, and stirring up his family and the teachers of the law?  It doesn’t make any sense?

Unless … Jesus didn’t know what was just about to hit.  Yes, I know that the divine side of Jesus includes the all-knowing aspect of God, but I think that when Jesus took on the cloak of humanity he suspended some of the divine aspects of who he was.  I don’t think that Jesus knew all things about the future and in this particular case,  I really don’t think that Jesus knew what the next 24 hours was going to mean for him.

But I actually find that a little bit comforting … because then Jesus can relate to us when we have those days that hit us when we are not expected them. 

Which leads me to my last question … is it possible to prepare for these tsunami days?  Because, I think we can – sort of.

Learning from Jesus in our reading, maybe we need to be aware when we are running ourselves a bit low – and be careful not to run ourselves to empty … just incase.  Because coping with a huge, intensive 24 hours is so much harder when we are already on empty.  Trust me, I know.

So maybe, we need to be reading our inner levels and when we are feeling run down or that we have given a lot of ourselves to take some time to recharge ourselves – not necessarily back to full charge but atleast not on empty … just in case.   Jesus seemed to do this later in the gospels when he would take time out to pray or just to be in the presence of his father.

Likewise, as Christians, we also have the foundational spiritual practices of prayer, reflection on scripture, meditation and sabbath which are all designed to slow us down and refill our inner wells.  Even communion which we are just about to partake in helps us to pause the giving of ourselves and instead receive from God.

I am not sure if this is helpful for you – but I wonder if Jesus in our reading today had his time again and knew the sort of 24 hours that was before him… that he might have slowed down a little, found time to eat, even rested with his family.  So lets take some time right now to receive and refill our hearts, and spirits … just in case tomorrow is a doosy.  Amen.