He Was Beside Himself

February 21, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Mark | 12 Comments
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And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

Mark 3:21, emphasis added

This is an expression we still use for people today when we are implying that they are not “in their right mind.” Some of the ancients believed that a person’s psyche could actually leave his body and hover next to the person, inducing a state of madness or lunacy. The friends of Jesus who knew Him before He began His public ministry were concerned that He may have lost His mind, going around performing miracles, preaching, and claiming to be the Messiah. After all, He was only a simple carpenter’s son from Nazareth.

C.S. Lewis is known for positing the so-called “Trilemma:” He wrote that the claims of Jesus Himself were such that no one can marginalize or minimize His ministry or Person by referring to Him as simply a “good teacher.” The life of Jesus and His Words leave us with only three alternatives: He was a liar, He was a lunatic, or He was Lord. The overwhelming evidence (and in fact the incontrovertible Truth) is that He was Lord.

Paul and the Apostles later faced this same accusation.

For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

II Corinthians 5:13, emphasis added

If you serve God and proclaim the Gospel in this dark world, where sin and unbelief are the prevailing atmosphere, there are going to be times when your sanity is questioned. This has never stopped the Lord’s true servants. We rest in the knowledge that we are not “beside ourselves.” In fact, we are more sane and in touch with reality when we walk in the Spirit of the Lord than we are at any other time.

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

Acts 26:24-25, emphasis added

We may not be able to stop people from calling us “mad,” but at least we can make sure that there is “a method to our madness.”


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  1. […] by He Was Beside Himself « The Deep End — February 21, 2011 […]

  2. “there are going to be times when your sanity is questioned. This has never stopped the Lord’s true servants.”

    such a great line for illogical living. great sum up of faith. We look different. believing in an unseen God already makes us look insane. I like it. I love that as believers, we are more sober than any perception.

  3. Tracee: Thanks for your comment. I agree, but I prefer the term “irrational” (https://swimthedeepend.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/when-it%E2%80%99s-okay-to-be-irrational/) to “illogical.” I actually believe the Truth claims of Christ and the Bible are immanently logical.

  4. If we truly are aliens in this perishing world, we will be looked on as “different” and we will be despised. If the world cannot see that I am not like them, am I truly a disciple of Christ?

  5. Excellent thought, Marianne. I wish I had thought to use the term “aliens.” That’s exactly what true Christians are in both senses of the word: We come from another “nation,” and our customs surely seem strange and otherworldly to people who do not know the Lord. Martin Luther or somebody even said that we have an “alien” righteousness, since it is not our own righteousness, but that of Christ’s which is imputed to us.

  6. […] our modern vernacular we say, “He’s beside himself,” when someone has lost his temper. In ancient times many people believed that a person’s […]

  7. […] I guess I’ll have to live with the label. They said the same thing about Jesus (Mark 3:21) and the Apostle Paul (Acts 26:24). Anyway, “crazy” can be pretty subjective. Older Christian will tell you that, […]

  8. […] 5. Forgiveness, Fulfillment, and Freedom (Mark 2-3) 6. The Gross-Out Factor for Kids (Mark 2:16-17) 7. He Was Beside Himself (Mark 3:21) 8. Serving without Fear (Mark 4-5) 9. Beware the Furious Fiend (Mark 5:5) 10. Rising […]

  9. […] 13:23; Acts 8) 10. Kick the Bucket (Acts 26:14) 11. Stand Your Ground (II Samuel 23:11-12) 12. He Was Beside Himself (Mark 3:21; II Corinthians 5:13; Acts 26:24-25) 13. Prepare to Meet Your Maker (Amos 4-5) 14. […]

  10. […] If so, we would say that Peter was the Apostle of hope. Hopelessness is a condition produced by an unhinged mind – a mind that has come loose at some point between the beginning and the […]

  11. […] where Jesus reveals a spiritual truth, and the listeners misunderstand and think He is talking crazy or at least expressing earthly and material, rather than spiritual, ideas. Plus, we have, in this […]

  12. […] was a Jewish superstition in those days which held that a deceased person’s soul could linger in the vicinty of the body for a period of up to four days, at which time decompsition made it impractical for the soul to […]

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