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Tony's Reflection 41
Which would you trust more:
an advert for a political party?
an advert for cat food?
Legally speaking, in our country cats have better protection than the electorate. Before an advertiser makes a claim about what “9/10 cats prefer”, they need to remember they come under a legal requirement that their adverts have to be “decent, honest and truthful”. The interests of cats, you see, have legal protection.
There are no such legal requirements around political advertising. The electoral law “doesn’t require claims in political campaigns to be truthful or factually accurate”, according to the House of Commons library. After the last general election, the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising said that 31 advertising campaigns from across the party spectrum had been “indecent, dishonest or untruthful”. (Click
We were bombarded by claim and counterclaim and left unprotected by law. Extravagant claims abounded on every side and when you placed your X in the box, you had to decide who you were going to believe.
In today’s episode of Mark’s biography (
), we have bewildering and extreme claims and counterclaims about Jesus – and we have to decide who to believe.
We are introduced to Jesus’ family at Mark 3:21 and the picture we get is not a flattering one. It is a shock to the system to any of us harbouring notions of Mary the mother of Jesus doting fondly and reverently on her Messiah son.
Jesus went to a well-wishers house, it would seem to grab a bite to eat. Like a magnet he draws an instant crowd and he is mobbed once again.
His family hear Jesus is courting huge public attention, as usual. They decide something has to be done. They are going to go to the house, grab hold of him and cart him off. “He has gone mad,” they say.
That is an interesting accusation.
Back in the early 1980s, when we still had large institutions for the mentally ill, I went on a work placement in one. One of the staff joked to me that I would get on well in there, since I was religious, as they had plenty of John the Baptist’s, Jesus’s and God’s.
The patients who saw themselves in that way all had one thing in common. They had a view of themselves which was utterly at odds with “reality” as the rest of us saw it, so they were dismissed as “mad”, if I may use an old-fashioned term.
Jesus had such a challenging view of himself and the world around him, his family just couldn’t handle it. It cut right across “reality” as they saw it. His family couldn’t all be wrong, could they? All the religious experts couldn’t be wrong as well, could they? There was no shaking Jesus from his views… It couldn’t be everyone else that was wrong and him alone that was right. Or so his family thought. Jesus himself never even entertained the possibility he could be wrong. So there was only one thing for it… he must be “mad”.
As you get to know Jesus, you will discover he is most definitely a “one off”. The views he has on life, including yours, are one-of-a-kind. You won’t find anyone else so radical, or with such an uncanny knack of seeing right into the heart of the matter, or even right into your heart itself.
He is often at odds with “reality” as you have known it, so far. You have a choice, much as Jesus’ family did. You could dismiss him as “mad”… or you could trust that he is more right than anyone else you have ever met.
The scene then switches from Jesus’ family, to the top-notch religion experts, who have come all the way from the big city to sound out this country bumpkin who is causing such a stir.
They recognise Jesus has immense and unheard-of supernatural power. It couldn’t be coming from God, because if it were Jesus would be agreeing with them, wouldn’t he? At least that’s what they thought. If his power wasn’t coming from God, there was only one place it could come from – Satan himself. For them, Jesus wasn’t “mad”, he was “bad”.
Jesus utterly humiliates them, demolishing their position in front of the gathered crowd. Jesus is fighting Satan - everyone who has seen his exorcisms knows that. If he were getting his power from Satan, this would mean the devil was fighting himself. That would be a nonsense…
Jesus’ enemies couldn’t deny his supernatural power, so they had to try and explain it away. Their attempts failed miserably.
Mark has already shown you and me Jesus’ supernatural power. Perhaps you are privileged enough to have experienced it in your own life, first-hand. Can you explain it away? Your attempts will fail as badly as those of the religion experts.
When you put your X on the voting slip, you decided whose claims to believe. Now you have to do the same with Jesus.
Jesus’ take on the world and everything in it is utterly unique. His supernatural power is second to none. “Mad” (as per his family) or “bad” (as per the religion experts) just don’t work as explanations. The only one that works is that he really is God’s unique representative…