Why Did Jesus’ Family Think He Had Gone Mad? Did They Not Know Who He Is?

“And the angel said to her,’“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold,, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’”

And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’”

“And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. ‘” (Luke 1:30-35)

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

Jesus began his ministry in his early 30s by healing the sick, blessing the poor, standing up for the meek and humble, and rubbing elbows with tax collectors and prostitutes. When His family heard about His activities, they decided to seek Him (Mark 3: 31-35). They thought He was “out of His mind” (Mark 3:21). When they found Him, He elevated the status of His followers, stating that “whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:31-35). “For not even His brothers believed in Him” (John 7:5).


Did Mary forget Gabriel’s important prophecies about Jesus when she joined His brothers in the belief that He had gone mad? To answer this question, we need to analyze what Mary learned from the angel Gabriel about Jesus. Gabriel said Jesus would be a reigning king on the throne of King David. When she heard of the type of ministry Jesus had begun, she was likely very perplexed. Rather than sit on a throne and mingle with elites on the pedestals, Jesus had chosen to work in the pits. He chose 12 apostles from much more lowly walks of life than those in powerful circles. Rather than amass power and glory, Jesus had chosen a simple life, which was devoid of any worldly riches. These choices may have driven Mary to believe He hadn’t taken the path set out for Him by the Father. It’s possible she didn’t understand the way Jesus was fulfilling the Father’s path, which was defined in Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12; Psalm 22; and Zechariah 9:9; 12:10. Some early Jewish religious leaders understood the two types of Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament (Sanhedrin 98a): the lowly King who would humbly ride in on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9) and the mighty Lord who would come in the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7) and sit at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1). Mary may or may not have known these distinctions. We don’t know what Jesus had revealed to her, other than His potential to perform miracles (as evidenced by her reaction at Cana) and that His ministry would begin when the time was right (as He stated at Cana).

Did Mary and Joseph share what the angel Gabriel told them about Jesus with His brothers and sisters? To answer this question, we must remember that Jesus didn’t perform His first miracle until just before His ministry began at the wedding at Cana where He turned water into wine. He wasn’t performing miracles as a child. As any parent can attest, we always want to elevate each of our children to equal levels. It’s unlikely that Mary and Joseph would have shared what they knew of Jesus with his siblings, given the monumental nature of the message. Such a message would be difficult to receive and comprehend in an obscure little town in Galilee in the ancient Near East. It would be difficult to receive and comprehend at any place in history. It’s likely that Mary and Joseph would let Jesus reveal His truths to His brothers and sisters Himself. It’s also likely that Jesus wouldn’t emphasize His own status during His upbringing, given His type of servant leadership. It would be completely overwhelming for mere humans to process.

Once the time was right, Jesus revealed His truths to His brother. In 1 Corinthians 15, we learned that following Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to Peter, to the twelve, to 500, to His brother James, and finally to Paul (see Acts 23:11 for the latter). Jesus’ 1/2 brother James became a believer instantly and started preaching for Him in the Jerusalem Temple. He and Jesus’ other 1/2 brother Jude wrote two books in the New Testament. And James was martyred for his work, according to the Jewish historian Josephus.


Jesus promised tribulations while on earth, along with glory in heaven for those who follow Him and accept His very generous offer of salvation. Thank the Lord!

5 Replies to “Why Did Jesus’ Family Think He Had Gone Mad? Did They Not Know Who He Is?”

    1. Thank you! I’m just trying to think of how it would be if one of my sons was the “son of God.” Wow. It would be difficult to comprehend and I’m sure Jesus was “low key” to keep everyone sane.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve often wanted to overhear the conversation Jesus had with his half-brother James after He was raised from the dead! Your explanation of why Mary/Joseph might not have shared the visions with His younger brothers and sisters may be more realistic than my thought of trying to explain Jesus’ spiritual birth to them. Good article. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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