LABELS - Jesus and the Rehumanisation Project

Man playing violin in the street

In a curious story found within Mark’s Gospel (Mark 3:20-22), we see Jesus teaching within a house. Two separate groups of people approach Jesus in what is known as a ‘Markan Sandwich’.

The first group is Jesus' parents. They claim that Jesus has lost his mind, and they have come to “take charge of Him” (in other words, to remove Him forcibly from that place).

The second group is a selection of officials from Jerusalem with a charge against Jesus, that of demonic possession (a charge which, if verified, would lead to either exile or execution).

The similarity between these two encounters: labelling.

The reason that the two parties believe that they have the right to forcibly remove, exile, or execute Jesus is because they have placed a label upon Him.

Either insane or possessed.


In life, we are often guilty of this same fallacy. We are able to exclude people, marginalise people, and reject people because we have placed a label on them – a label that made them less than human.

They have, in effect, been dehumanised.

They have been changed from a beautiful, treasured individual, to a “communist”, “fascist”, “abomination”, "refugee", "scrounger", "stupid" [insert label here].


This is especially visible when we use the word “just” in front of the label, i.e. they are just a refugee. It allows us to reduce them down to a simple, rejectable idea and then dismiss that idea, in turn, dismissing them.


In contrast to this, we as disciples of Christ are called to “re-humanise” people.

People are made in the image of God, and we are tasked with calling out that image from within them, by treating them as loved, treasured etc.

May we learn to see the labels that we are placing on others, may we remove them from our vocabulary, and may we begin this rehumanising work to which we are called.


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