So I’m studying Mark 3 this week for Sunday Sch… LifeStages, and I can’t help but be struck by how strange this chapter feels. Those people who say the Gospels present an uncritical, whitewashed view of Jesus’ life never read this chapter. As I was reading the chapter I couldn’t help but think of Michael Card’s song “God’s Own Fool.” It is obvious to me that he had this chapter in mind when he wrote the song, and he puts it forth in powerful poetry, communicating it better than I ever could (I added some links to scripture verses that illustrate the points in the song):
It seems I’ve imagined Him all of my life
As the wisest of all of mankind.
But if God’s holy wisdom is foolish to man,
He must have seemed out of His mind.
For even His family said He was mad,
And the priests said a demon’s to blame.
But God in the form of this angry young man
Could not have seemed perfectly sane.
Below is a video of the song so you can hear the music. It's not his best song, as far as I am concerned, but I love how he weaves scripture into his music.
What does all that mean? I’m really not entirely sure. I do know for sure that we as believers often forget that Jesus was fully human as well as fully God. What does perfection look like? We all have our ideas, but Jesus is the only one who ever actually lived a perfect life, and the Jesus of Mark 3 certainly doesn’t fit what I think of when I think of perfection. When I think of perfection I think no controversy, no struggle, no opposition. Who could oppose perfection? That’s not what Jesus’ perfection looked like.
We do ourselves, each other and God a disservice when we treat manifestations of humanity as evil or sinful. Too often we are guilty of simply looking at people who do things differently than we do as somehow wrong rather than different. Jesus was so different that His family was coming to take Him away by the end of this chapter. Not away as in home, but away as in the crazy house. God makes each of us unique, and society tries to make us all alike. There’s nothing wrong with adopting cultural norms: all of us do at some level. But we need to recognize them for what they are: culture, not perfection.
Why do we feel guilty when we cry? Even at times of genuine grief, our American tough guy society tells us crying is bad. It’s not a sin to cry. It is certainly a sin to hold on to our grief when God tells us to place our burdens on Him, but a reaction of grief at the death of a loved one is human, not sinful. It’s no more sinful to weep at a funeral than it is to swing and miss at a baseball. Both are human. Those are just two examples. There are plenty more. The point is that a cultural faux pas may not be sinful, even though society tells us it’s wrong. The opposite is also true. There are certainly things accepted by culture that are sinful. Let’s do the best we can to make our standard for right and wrong closer to God’s standard rather than society’s.
And think about Jesus today. And don't be surprised to encounter someone who defies your expectations. Jesus certainly did that while on earth and He continues to do that to this day.