Friday, October 14, 2022
“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself” (Mark 3:20,21 KJV).
Who here is “beside himself?” Why has this designation been applied?
Porcius Festus (Roman Governor of Judaea) and King Herod Agrippa II heard the Apostle Paul’s testimony in Acts chapter 26. As Saul of Tarsus, some two decades prior, Paul had led Israel’s rebellion against Jesus Christ: “ I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.  And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad [insane, crazy, lunatic] against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” Saul had oppressed Israel’s believing remnant in chapters 7–9. Like his unbelieving nation, he had no renewed mind—but that all changed in chapter 9 when he met and trusted the ascended Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour (Acts 26:12-23)!
While listening to Paul’s testimony, Festus responded like any lost or natural man: “And as he [Paul] thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself [crazy]; much learning doth make thee mad [lunatic]” (Acts 26:24). Paul was certainly an educated man (see Acts 22:3), but the Holy Spirit was also speaking through him so as to convict Festus. Festus’ human intellect, fallen and insane, was unable to make sense of God’s wisdom: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [judged, evaluated]” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Hence, non-Christians find it impossible to understand God’s words that we speak.
Yet, if we are not careful, even we Christians can actually rave like madmen, falling into the trap of true spiritual lunacy ourselves….