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.”
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
(Mark 3:20-28 ESV)
Everyone wants a piece of Jesus, even his own family. The crowd that gathered around to listen wanted him the same way screaming teenagers want rock stars. The only difference between the crowds in the first century and teens today is that today’s teens don’t actually believe that if they touch the hem of their idol’s garment they will be healed.
It is a little difficult to figure out who “they” is in the first paragraph above. Jesus went home (again, the implication here is that he was no vagabond, but whether the home he went to was his parents’ or his own, he clearly had a place that he and some of his relatives shared. I think that the tradition that an unmarried young man lived with his parents would indicate that, though he was now 30, he would have continued to share quarters with his aging parents, and as they became unable to work, he would take over the responsibility.
Anyway, either the crowd was so insistent on getting a piece of Jesus that they (the crowd) couldn’t even eat, or the crowd was pressing Jesus so badly that they had basically surrounded the house and his family couldn’t eat. I like the second interpretation better. It is more fun. Here is his own family being irked because Jesus has disturbed their peace. There are countless movies I can think of where part of the plot involves some political figure or rock star hiding out anonymously at some commoner’s house. This is the reverse. This is like Elvis hiding out at Graceland. Everyone knew where Jesus lived, so they all went there. Finally his parents or siblings or someone gets so fed up that they conclude he’s lost his mind. Or better yet (as the text says, “they went out to sieze him”), maybe they concocted a story to tell the crowds. “We’ll go out and grab him and explain to the crowds that he’s out of his mind. That’ll get rid of all those people. No one wants to follow a rabbi with a screw loose.”
Either way, when they got outside wall of the compound (that’s how most houses were built in those days), they got a rude awakening. Someone else had beaten them to it with a different, even more fanciful story. The Scribes, with the same hope in mind of thinning out the crowds a bit, were circulating the lie that Jesus was demon possessed.
You may know C.S. Lewis’ famous quote from Mere Christianity (p. 54-56), "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God."
Jesus offers an entirely logical response to the Scribes’ accusation, and with one quick paragraph silences both his family and the Scribes. The cogency of his argument ends the question of whether he was insane. An insane person could not have spoken so clearly. The content of his argument ends the question of whether he had a demon. And the conclusion of his argument clearly raises the specter in the minds of his hearers whether the One who opposes Satan and has the authority and power to cast out Satan might in fact be the Eternal God.
I’m going to guess that since you are reading this blog, YOU want a piece of Jesus too or you wouldn’t be interested in what one of his servants has to say. So it is a fair question to ask: who do you say that Jesus is. No fair cheating and quoting Mark 8… we’re not that far in the Gospel yet. Just answer the question. Is he nuts, possessed, or God? And if he is God, then what does that make you?