Summary: God wants to move you from being a fickle fan to become a faithful follower.
From Fans to Followers
Rev. Brian Bill
April 9-10, 2016
What do you think of large crowds?
• A record crowd of 170,000 watched the Kentucky Derby in 2015.
• Over 115,000 fans gathered to watch Michigan play Notre Dame in 2013.
• 3.5 million attended the largest ever rock concert in 1994.
• The largest religious crowd on record was when 30 million Hindus gathered to bathe in a river in the hopes of having their sins washed away.
The definition of a crowd helps explain why some of us shy away from them: “A large number of people gathered together, typically in a disorganized or unruly way.” Synonyms include: throng, horde, mass, multitude, pack, mob, and rabble.
Jesus drew a lot of crowds. In fact, in the Gospel of Mark alone, the word “crowd” appears 34 different times.
Check out Mark 3:7-9 where we see the word used three times: “Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him.”
Last week we viewed the opening verses of Mark 3 through the perspective of a humble-hearted man, through the lenses of some hard-hearted religious dudes, and from the view of the holy heart of Jesus. We paused and asked ourselves if our hearts are humble, hard or holy.
After experiencing intense opposition in the synagogue, Jesus now withdraws with his disciples, something he did 11 different times in the Gospel of Mark. Mark 6:32 is an example: “And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” In this instance, as well as in our passage today, the crowds pressed in on Jesus, thus keeping the disciples from having some quiet time with Christ.
Twice we see the crowd described as “great,” which means, “much, many, a multitude.” People traveled great distances to be with Jesus – some lived nearby (Galilee) but others traveled for days (Judea and Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon), and weeks (Idumea and beyond the Jordan) to get there. Interestingly, Idumea is where the descendants of Esau lived. Historically, the Edomites were the archenemies of Israel and were known to be wicked and rebellious. It’s cool that people that far away, both geographically and spiritually, were drawn to Jesus. So many people came to Christ that He used a boat as his pulpit so that they wouldn’t “crush him,” which means,“to press together, and afflict.”
We see from Mark 3:10-12 that Jesus did two main things when ministering to the crowds:
• He healed many with diseases. Look at verse 10: “For he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.” Sick people were smothering the Savior. We see this from the phrase, “pressed around,” which means “to throw oneself upon, to jostle.”
• He freed many with demons. Check out verses 11-12: “And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’ And he strictly charged them not to make him known.” The diseased pressed around Him and the demonized “fell down before him.” This is a repeated action, which means that they “kept on falling down.” This shows the power of Christ. When they confessed who He was, He silenced them. He did that for two reasons. First, there was a common belief that the knowledge of one’s precise name conferred mastery over that person. By stating his title, the demons tried to show that they were superior. That didn’t work out so well for them. The second reason Christ quieted them was because He didn’t want or need testimony from them – He didn’t want to be associated in any way with unclean spirits. We’ll learn more about this next weekend when we look at the unpardonable sin.
We know from Mark 6:34 that Jesus didn’t dislike crowds but rather had compassion on them: “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” While he cared for the crowds, His heart was that individual people would come to Him. We see this in Mark 8:34: “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”
In our world of social media, it’s easy to find “friends” or be a “fan” on Facebook or get “followers” on Twitter and Instagram. What we see in this passage is much deeper than a cursory connection on social media platforms.