Misunderstood by His Own Family Hunch 26
Then Jesus returned home, and again a crowd gathered, so that they were not even able to eat. And when his own people heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
We can say that Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, put His hometown on the map. Ever since the events documented here, Nazareth has become a place of world-historical significance. You will recall Jesus began His work just after John was imprisoned. He had to leave Nazareth for Capernaum, by Lake Galilee. He had announced His intentions at Nazareth but they did not want to believe Him. They also rejected what John had said about Him. Instead of learning from Him, they kicked Him out of town. They took offence. It should not have been like that but that was the situation He faced. Then there was the healing of the crazed man in the synagogue, the curing of Simon's mother-in-law and the help He gave to other sick people. The town of Capernaum wanted Him as their own special Rabbi. But Jesus did not want that. He knew His message was not just for His home town. He moved on to other places, teaching and healing and freeing people from all kinds of troubles. He ate with outsiders like Levi the tax collector and with people the religious leaders were loathe to associate with. Some got upset because He was not fasting. The Pharisees and Scribes were not willing to learn from Him. They tried to accuse Him of breaking God's Law; He didn't observe the Sabbath like they did. The crowds kept coming. There was that picnic in the cornfields, and that healing in the synagogue. Both occurred on a Sabbath day. The crowds got larger and the religious leaders were determined to get rid of Him. Jesus kept on working, taking His disciples away and choosing 12 who could share the workload. Crowds kept coming and when He returned to Capernaum, there they were waiting for Him.
Now, if we are right and Mark's Gospel is written later in life by someone who, as a boy, was caught up in all this, some events may well have remained vividly alive in his memory. Some things may simply have "gone over his head" and I guess that in writing all this down he was indeed on his own learning curve.
Jesus' family and friends were worried. But Mark tells us what happened to their misplaced concern. It got mixed up with the scheming of the religious leaders. Jesus' friends saw the crowds and were nervous. They were unable to be patient and so their worries got the better of them. They knew what had happened to John; they were worried the same thing could happen again. They panicked and decided amongst themselves: He's not well. He's having a breakdown. We must get Jesus away from here and look after him!
But this was also the time the local religious leaders decided to act against Him. They were jealous of the crowds. They called in the teachers of the law to tell the people of Capernaum: This man gets his power from Beelzebul, the evil spirit who ruled this place before Israel came here. That's what's happening. That's why so many are coming to hear him. Jesus continued His work, teaching those who gathered, and He explained why both concerns were wrong. There is something else here. Mark tells us: they were not even able to eat.
So we have to try and figure out: Who was not able to eat? Was it Jesus? His disciples? Does it mean the crowds were going hungry? It's an important part of the story and it's been hard for Christians to understand it ever since Mark wrote it down. Mark tells us that the people there didn't have a clear idea of what was going on. Earlier, Jesus was criticised for not requiring His disciples to fast? Now, Jesus could have called a fast and it might have been a good way of controlling the crowds because they were so large. But He didn't do it. Mark tells us there was a lot of "not eating" people around.
Different bibles translate this in different ways. Some say Jesus and His disciples were prevented from eating and so this was why His friends were worried by the crowds. This worry led them to decide to take Him away. What would that involve? Did they want to sit Him down with the 12 and make sure they all had a good meal? It seems like it.
But other bibles suggest it means that Jesus and the 12 didn't have the time to eat because they were too busy teaching and healing. So couldn't they have eaten on the job? Maybe it means there was a problem feeding all the people. When we read and think about the entire story we realise once more that what is written here was written also for those who were there at the time.
Jesus wasn't calling a fast. The religious leaders were wanting to trap Him. Mark tells us that there was a lot of concern about how to care for these people. The way he tells it, the friends of Jesus and the religious leaders were worried about similar things. But these concerns were misplaced; they were a distraction from the good things Jesus was doing right there in front of their eyes. (There's more here and we will discuss it next time).