Summary: As Jesus' ministry grew in popularity, He often was forced to minister in the outlying areas to accommodate the crowds that gathered. The church needs to capture this passion and desire to be in the presence of the Lord.
Desired by the People
Mark 3: 7-12
The rapid pace we have become accustomed to in Mark’s Gospel continues. Jesus seldom stays in one place for extended periods of time. He is continually on the move, ministering to different people, with varied needs, in different places.
Such is the case with our text today. Jesus had encountered opposition in the synagogue, and now He resorts to the outlying areas around the Sea of Galilee. While some hated Jesus, others desired to be near Him. Some wanted rid of the Lord, and others wished He would never depart. Some felt threatened by His presence, and others received great comfort through Him. Unfortunately, this contrast will follow Jesus throughout His ministry.
As we have discovered, Jesus cannot be ignored. His presence demands a response. We must embrace His grace, or reject it, but we cannot fail to respond. I pray we all desire to be near the Lord, seeking to receive all He has to offer. As we continue our study, I want to examine the details within the text as we consider the thought: Desired by the People.
I. The Popularity of Jesus (7-8) – As Jesus continued to minister among the people, His popularity continued to grow. Word was reaching other regions, and the crowds were swelling in size. Notice:
A. The Challenge (7a) – But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea. Here we discover a particular challenge Jesus faced at this moment in ministry. He was forced to withdraw from the cities, and villages, unto the region around the sea. He was accompanied by His disciples. This withdrawal was actually the result of two different factors:
Mark 3:6 – And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. Following the healing of the withered hand in the synagogue, the Pharisees were determined to destroy Jesus. Now, we know they had no power apart from the Lord, and His time had not yet come. However, their hatred for Jesus, caused Him to minister more often in secluded areas, apart from the cities, towns, and villages.
Also, as we will discover in a moment, the crowds had grown so large that the synagogues and individual homes could no longer accommodate them. Jesus was forced to minster in open areas in order to accommodate the large numbers of people that followed Him.
From a spiritual perspective, Jesus would never avoid those who genuinely seek Him. In fact, He will meet you where you are, and attend to the needs you have. However, we must never be guilty as the Pharisees, in revealing that we no longer desire Jesus in our midst.
B. The Crowds (7b-8a) – and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea, [8a] And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude. We find that a great multitude from throughout the region came to follow Jesus. This was no longer the residents of Capernaum alone; people from all over came to Him. They came from all over Galilee, a densely populated region that some believe held over 200 cities with populations of 15,000 or more. They came from the south – the areas of Judea, Jerusalem, and even the southernmost region, Idumaea. This would have been a journey of at least 100 miles. They gathered from the regions east of the Jordan River, and from the northernmost regions of Tyre and Sidon along the Mediterranean Sea. Multitudes had descended on the region of Galilee, hoping to find Jesus and follow Him.
C. The Curiosity (8b) – when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him. It didn’t take long for word to spread throughout Israel that Jesus worked mighty miracles. As people heard of Him, they came seeking Him, desiring to be in the presence of the one they had heard so much about. Great multitudes came, desiring to see Jesus!
As I pondered this, I was deeply challenged. They didn’t have the modern means of communication or transportation that we enjoy today. The vast majority walked everywhere they went. News was spread primarily by word of mouth. By modern standards, these faced great limitations, and yet word spread of Jesus, and they journeyed to find Him. Consider the advancements we enjoy today. We have many avenues of communication, and yet we fail to tell others of the Good News of Christ our Lord. We have automobiles in which to travel, and yet many fail to ride a few minutes to engage in worship. Oh how we need the desire and commitment these had to get to where Jesus is!
II. The Preparation of Jesus (9-10) – Here we discover some of the preparations Jesus made regarding the crowds that gathered. Notice: