At our best, we use the explanations we have to make sense of the experiences we have. Like just now. Nancy was pounding in the kitchen. Breadcrumbs? Making a crumb coating out of the last Rice Krispie™ treat? Sheer frustration?
After telling us about the team Jesus called to follow him, Mark tells us a story about two groups of people coming to find him. They each have been hearing word-of-mouth accounts of Jesus. One group assumes that he is out of his mind. The other group assumes that he is possessed by an evil spirit.
The first group is Jesus’ biological family. They assume the reason he can’t eat right and sleep right and attracts crowds is because of mental illness. They want to take him home. They want to stop the rumors that are bringing negative attention to the family. They want to stop this messiah complex.
But they were working with the explanations they had. And when someone you’ve known all your life abandons the business, leaves home, wanders around, challenges authorities, and shames people in his hometown, an explanation of being out of his mind actually makes sense.
Commentators talk about the lack of faith of Jesus’ family. “It reveals,” says one, “their misunderstanding and unbelief.” We bring our explanation to their outrage. We know the truth and would never call into question the sanity of Jesus. But we do, I think.
They eventually arrive and ask to see Jesus. When told his family is there, Jesus points to the people gathered around him, those assuming he’s in his right mind. “These are my family,” he says.
It’s not a permanent rejection of his biological family. Several will follow him eventually. But it’s a reminder that his work is not as son of a man.
And Nancy? She was preparing chicken for chicken parm.