When Bigger and Brighter is not Better

I do not have a personal story to go along with the lesson in Mark 3:7-12. So, this one will be quick and to the point.  

Then, Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a huge throng from Galillee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, the Transjordan, and Tyre and Sidon followed. Hearing how much he was doing, the huge throng came to him.

And he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him so the crowd might not crush him. For he had healed so many that those with diseases were mobbing him so that they might touch him.

And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell before him, shrieking and saying, “You are the Son of God!” And he would strongly rebuke them to not reveal him.

The crowd that throngs to Jesus is made up of a diverse group of people. They came a long way to see Jesus. Some are Jews. Some are Gentiles. They have heard that he was a great healer, and they mob him. Those with diseases push their way through the multitude in the hopes they can just get close enough to touch him. Image the hands reaching toward him. Imagine the touches, the bumps, the shoves. Imagine the health issues and sanitary conditions of the press toward him. These people are intent on physical contact. I imagine it was chaos, driven by desperation. And loud.

Jesus gives and gives to this huge multitude. Maybe he held out his hands to increase access to his body. Maybe he had a circle of disciples around him to help diffuse the demand. Finally, he succumbs to the reality of the danger to his person. He instructs his disciples to get a little boat ready in case he needs to escape the shore.

Among those with diseases are those harboring evil spirits. When the evil spirits get within sight of Jesus, they begin to throw their “host” bodies to the ground, adding to the turmoil. They shrieked his identity aloud, adding to the din. These poor possessed people were now on the ground and in danger of being trampled.

Mark begins his book in Mark 1:1 by declaring that Jesus is the Son of God, and so far in his story only the voice from heaven and demons have recognized him as such. James 2:19 says that belief in God or even that Jesus is the Son of God is not enough. The devils do this. And surprisingly, the demonic spirits do it first. But it is not their place to proclaim it. Jesus silences them.

It is an intense scene. Jesus’ actions are mostly negative. He withdraws, plans an escape route and rebukes. Why? Because he was not driven by huge numbers of followers nor by having his identity correctly recognized. Bigger crowds and correct doctrine were not what he was after.

He was after true devotion proven by obedience to his teaching.

Jesus withdraws, plans an escape route and rebukes. Why?

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