Summary: Jesus ministers to a great multitude of people and we learn that Jesus satisfies every need.
Jesus was about thirty years of age when he began his public ministry (Luke 3:23). That was in 28 AD.
Jesus’ ministry was fundamentally a ministry of teaching and healing. His primary mission was to seek and to save the lost. That is, he came to find those who knew themselves to be estranged from God, and to reconcile them to God.
Jesus was extremely popular with the people. They came to listen to his teaching and they also came to him for healing.
However, the religious leaders opposed Jesus because he did not agree with their teaching of how to live in a right relationship with God.
So, on the one hand, Jesus’ popularity with the people grew, while, on the other hand, Jesus encountered growing opposition and criticism from the religious leaders.
About six months after the start of Jesus’ public ministry, opposition to his ministry escalated. By this time Jesus already had a growing number of disciples. A disciple is “someone who follows another person or another way of life and who submits himself to the discipline (teaching) of that leader or way.”
Jesus was aware that the religious leaders discussed with one another what they might do with him (Luke 6:11). And so he decided that it was time to choose twelve men whom he could equip to carry on his mission after his departure.
Jesus went up a mountain and spent an entire night in prayer, seeking God’s guidance about which disciples to chose to carry on his mission. When day came, Jesus called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles (Luke 6:13).
Having selected the apostles, Jesus then came down the mountain and ministered to a great multitude of people.
So, let’s read about Jesus ministering to a great multitude in Luke 6:17-19:
17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. (Luke 6:17-19)
We live in a world that seeks to find meaning and fulfillment and satisfaction in all kinds of ways. And yet, people find only emptiness in following their various pursuits.
Listen to what some well-known people have said:
• Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: “Everybody basically has an empty hole inside of them that they try to fill with money, drugs, alcohol, power – and none of the material stuff works.”
• Television producer Norman Lear: “I’m shocked by the hole in America’s heart.”
• Tennis star Boris Becker: “I had won Wimbledon twice before, once as the youngest player. I was rich. I had all the material possessions I needed. . . . It’s the old song of movie stars and pop stars who commit suicide. They have everything, and yet they are so unhappy. I had no inner peace. I was a puppet on a string.”
• Ernest Hemingway, who committed suicide: “I live in a vacuum that is as lonely as a radio tube when the batteries are dead and there is no current to plug into.”
• Cartoonist Ralph Barton, although successful and in demand, took his own life, leaving a note nearby that included these words: “I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up twenty-four hours of the day.”
Perhaps psychiatrist Carl Jung gave the best description of our culture today when he said, “The central neurosis of our time is emptiness.”
One would think that people living in the 21st century would have learned how to deal with the emptiness of life. But they have not.
People in Jesus’ day found life just as empty as they do today. They struggled to find meaning and fulfillment and satisfaction in all kinds of ways too.
The reason Jesus was so popular is that he gave answers for life. He told people how they could find meaning and fulfillment and satisfaction in life.
On one occasion Jesus taught the people and fed more than five thousand people by miraculously turning five barley loaves and two fish into enough food for everyone. The next day the people wanted Jesus to keep giving them bread always (John 6:34).
Jesus told the people that he was “the bread of life.” He was the one who provided meaning and fulfillment and satisfaction in life. The miracle of the bread was merely a sign pointing to him who alone fully satisfies every human need.
But the people did not want that which would satisfy now and for all eternity. They simply wanted their immediate, physical needs met, and because Jesus would not keep providing for their temporal needs, they started grumbling.