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’ Family

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 brethren 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 some in Jesus’ familial clan to believe He hadn’t taken the path set out for Him by the Father. It’s possible they 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). They may or may not have known these distinctions. We don’t know what Jesus had revealed to them, other than His potential to perform miracles (as evidenced first 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 their familial clan? 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. It’s possible that Mary and Joseph did not share all they knew of Jesus with their extended family, 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 in His own ways. 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 relatives. In 1 Corinthians 15, we learned that following Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to Peter, to the twelve, to 500, to His brethren, James, and finally to Paul (see Acts 23:11 for the latter). James became a believer instantly and started preaching for Him in the Jerusalem Temple. He and Jesus’ other relative 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!

6 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

  2. This is the most honest and realistic analysis in this regard I have read so far. However, it is evident that Mary was well aware of the ability of Jesus to do miracles for why otherwise would she ask him to work one upon her demand at the wedding in Cana. Perhaps I have the chronology wrong however that narrative in the Gospel of John also makes it clear that Jesus worked miracles prior to the Cana wedding even though we all call it His first miracle, when it is not. It is only the first miracle in Cana. And then John also highlights the second miracle in Cana for the specific purpose of linking the two miracles in a contrast of each other. Tells us loads about Mary and her attitude towards Jesus.

    I would say rather that she knew Jesus was a very special person but she did not fully comprehend his full nature or mission. What did Jesus do between the ages of 20 and 30? Apparently He worked with Joseph as a tekton, a carpenter. Mary must have had the expectation that He would take the leadership reigns of Judah and gather an army to wage a war on the Romans and Persians and Idumeans, Hasmoneans etc. and set up Himself as a King on a throne over Israel, like David.

    When He did not do this, I think she doubted that He ever would set up a kingdom, and knowing His nature as one of love and humility and so no, she thought that He was perhaps a person endowed with God given gifts and abilities, as a Son of God, and all Israelites think of themselves as the sons of God, but not God Himself. And when He made inferences to this effect, she must have thought that He was not stable minded. So when He went public she must have been really concerned for Him because making the statement that He was wont to do would make Him a target of the vicious Pharisees etc. which occurs in the very next verse.

    I think Mary was endowed with alot of Grace during her pregnancy and during the childhood of Jesus Christ so that she could fulfill her role in the work of salvation that God was doing. But it does seem to start diminishing by the time He is 12 for she treats Him as she would treat any other one of her children. 18 years later she fears for Jesus because she thinks He is vulnerable due to His beliefs in Himself and seeks to protect Him from the Pharisees. There may even be a measure of embarrasment on her part. But she is doing what most mothers might do if their child goes out and tells everyone that they are God.

    Jesus had no one to understand Him and He must have felt extremely lonely for even Mary and those closest to Him did not believe Him.

    Liked by 1 person

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