Study Guide: Was Jesus Crazy?

Sunday May 21, 2023 | Dan Kent

Brief Summary:

Based on the claims that Jesus made about himself, we have three options: to say he was a liar, a lunatic or that he is lord. This sermon addresses the question of whether or not Jesus was of a sound mind, and then claims that the only sane human to have ever lived was Jesus, and what the implications of that are.

Extended Summary:

C.S. Lewis described our understanding of Jesus as a trilemma, three options that lie before us regarding Jesus’ identity. Either he is a liar, a lunatic or lord. Much has been addressed about why he is not a liar and why we should say that he is lord, but very little has been said about whether or not Jesus was in his right mind. In this sermon, Dan seeks to address this.

The word “crazy” presents us with some challenges. Many people struggle with mental illness and the word crazy is often used to belittle and deride those who struggle with issues that are beyond their control. They are bullied with this word and cast aside in our society. Mental illness is not “crazy.” The real crazy is doing what we could have done otherwise because we have the ability to choose to do so. With this in mind, this talk is meant to help us understand if Jesus was operating with a sound mind by looking at three disorders that have symptoms that could align with some of the actions of Jesus.

Dan walks us through an understanding of three disorders: schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and sociopathic personality disorder. He explains how he has seen them manifest in his world with mental health patients and how some of the actions of Jesus could be viewed as aligning with these disorders. But then Dan shows us how other actions of Jesus debunk each of these possibilities. By walking us through these, Dan demonstrates how it is not possible to logically choose the option of Jesus as a lunatic.

Dan then introduces that Jesus was actually the only sane human being to have ever lived, that he actually lived in an authentic and consistent way that aligns with a truthful way that the world works. Jesus lived in a way that was the total antithesis of anything that might be diagnosed as a mental illness. In fact, the real crazy does not have anything to do with a mental disorder; the real crazy is exhibited in the common way of life that almost everyone in the world lives. The real crazy is to live in a self-destructive way when we could have chosen to live otherwise. This is true foolishness. We are caught in a perpetual cycle of doing the same things, expecting different results.

We see this on a daily basis in things like violence, sexuality and the use of money. We think that retributive violence, for instance, will make the world better, but the only thing that occurs is the continuation of more violence. It’s a never-ending story that results in more and more destruction. But it’s a mindset that controls our actions—a crazy one. The same is true for the relentless pursuit of pleasure and greed. This mindset appears to be the only option we have, but in fact it is not.

We needed something from outside of our insanity to stop the perpetual cycle that traps us. This something is Jesus, the great shepherd who comes to the sheep who are harassed and helpless without anyone to provide care. He is the great light that has dawned, shining forth to reveal and unveil truth where the untruth keeps us in the life of crazy. Jesus comes to save us from the insanity, to rescue us so that we can live in a sane way. This is what discipleship is all about, and we experience it as we orient ourselves to the true sanity of Jesus and choose to live in a way that counters the crazy of our culture.

Reflection Questions: