“The Crowd Changer”
“That evening at sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons.” Mark 1:32-34
Intro: Capernaum is located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. There are two ancient sites of synagogues in Capernaum. One is located not far from what is known today as the St. Peter’s Church. St. Peter’s church is built over what archaeologist have excavated as a foundation which is believed to have been the very house where Peter and Andrew lived.
After Jesus had preached at the Synagogue on the Sabbath he had gone home with Peter and Andrew. When he got to their house Peter’s mother-in-law was sick. And Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law and she immediately arose and began to serve Jesus and showed hospitality and prepared a meal for him and the disciples.
As the sunset in the evening it signaled the end of the holy Sabbath day. People were prohibited from doing many kinds of work on the Sabbath. There were limitations on how far they could travel. Their labor was restricted. But as the Sabbath ended they began to go about their business. So a Sabbath ended people began to seek Jesus so that the sick could be healed.
The news about Jesus teaching at the Synagogue that morning had spread quickly through the entire region of Galilee. The witnesses told how that Jesus spoke to the demon and the demon processed was healed.
Many villages were located in the area of Galilee. Some were like Capernaum and averaged in size of perhaps twelve to fifteen hundred. Others like Bethsaida may have had about three thousand. Larger cities like Tiberius had a population of about fifteen thousand. The city of Magdala was one of the largest at that time and may have had close to forty thousand people in or around its area.
“That evening at sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus.”Mark 1:32 It is difficult to say how many people came to Peter’s house but we know from other places the bible speaks of crowds following Jesus. Jesus feed the five thousand. That was only the number of men. It did not include women and children. So, when the whole town of Capernaum gathered at Peter’s house and people from all over the surrounding region of Galilee came, a conservative estimate of the crowd would have numbered well into the thousands of people.
Every crowd has its own personality. There were no doubt people from all professions of life in this crowd.
Fishermen, carpenters, farmers and sheep herders, and craftsmen and likely as in other crowds who came to Jesus there was Roman soldiers, domestic servants and masters with slaves, religious leaders from the temples, and there were probably prostitutes, and thieves and pick pockets, and beggars, and there were the diseased, the sick and dying. People of all ages, race, color, national origin. People of all walks of life. The wealthy, the working class, the poor, the least of the least.
We can divide the crowd into two basic groups. The scripture lesson identifies two specific different groups in this crowd. The first group in this crowd were the…
“They brought to Jesus.”Mark 1:32.
They brought the sick. They brought the demon-possessed people to Jesus. The Greek word used here for brought means: “followers.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) Followers were people who believed. They believed that when Jesus preached at the temple he was a representative of God. That Jesus did more than just read the scripture that he interpreted it with authority. That the sermon was prophetic and messianic. It involved great enthusiasm and was done with devotion and encouragement and hope and love. They believed that Jesus spoke the truth. They believed that Jesus was a liberator and Judaic savior. This was the one who would usher in the golden age that had been promised for so many years. They are the followers. The primary characteristic of a follower is that they are bringers. Followers bring people to Jesus.
Another closely related meaning of the Greek meaning of the word “brought” is one who carries. In some places in the bible the people carried their friends to Jesus. Carriers brought those who could not bring themselves. In one case the crowd was so large that they tore the rooftop off and lowered their friend down from the ceiling so that he could be healed by Jesus. Luke 5:19.
To bear the load is part of the original meaning here. Bringers are also those who bear the load. We all have things we have to carry. Burdens to bear in life. Thankfully, the church is people who have been instructed to bear one another's burdens. Think about your spiritual family.
Galatians 6:2 tells us to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ!" Do you know someone who needs encouragement? Do you know anyone who is going through a difficult time that you could cheer on?
Reader's Digest, February, 1994 tells about a man who one morning opened the door to get the newspaper and was surprised to see a strange little dog with our paper in his mouth. Delighted with this unexpected "delivery service," he fed the little dog some treats. The following morning he opened the door and was horrified to see the same dog sitting in front the front porch wagging his tail, surrounded by eight newspapers. He spent the rest of that morning returning the papers to their owners. A little encouragement can go a long way.
An elderly widow was very restricted in her activities. Yet she was eager to serve Christ. After praying about this for a while, she realized that she could bring blessing to others by playing the piano. The next day she placed this small ad in the local paper: "Pianist will play hymns by phone daily for those who are sick and despondent --the service is free." The notice included the phone number to dial. When people called, she would ask, "What hymn would you like to hear?" Within a few months her playing had brought cheer to several hundred people. Many of them freely poured out their hearts to her, and she was able to help and encourage them. The whole community was changed. (Source Unknown.) Part of the meaning of the word “brought” is to up hold. To lift up. To encourage. To use what God has given you to go and lead others.
Still going deeper into the meaning of the word “brought.” In the Greek it is a verb. It is an action word that has a sense of urgency about it. It indicated the need to rush. To be driven by endurance to reach the goal. Bringers are people who want stop until the mountain is moved. Bringers are people who don’t give up on helping until there is a real change that takes place. Are you a bringing? Who have you brought to Christ?
It used to be that we would teach children (use hands as illustration) “this is the church and this is the steeple, open the doors and there’s God’s people.” That is the way the church used to teach and the way a lot of people were raised and taught. That is a classic children’s rhyme that was used for generations. But perhaps this classic children’s rhyme has had unintended consequences. Many churches have infolded in on themselves. Where the church is more inward focused on building itself than outward focused on bringing people to the Kingdom of Christ. That illustration is not the biblical meaning of the church in the book of Acts. (use hands as illustration) “this is not the church---the people are the church.” God’s people have always been the church.
The church has never been a building. Peter’s house wasn’t the church. People coming to Jesus, that is the church. People bringing people to Jesus, that is the church. Jesus sent his disciples out with a mission to reach the unsaved and bring them to the cross and bring them to salvation. Jesus wants “bringer.” not building maintainers.
Today the primary understanding of New Church Plants or New Faith Communities is that it is not about the building. It is about the mission to reach people. “ReJoice” is a New Faith Community that meets inside the Williamsburg First Church building and still it is a New Faith Community. When we first started ReJoice about a year and half ago I never imagined it would be what it is becoming. We usually have more kids and children and youth than we do adults. The ReJoice kids just keep teaching us grownups how to worship. The first half of the worship service is designed specifically with children in mind. It is loud. It is fast. It is colorful. The kids are up singing. The kids are raising their hands and arms. The kids are up dancing. Psalm 149:3 “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music unto him.”
I am an old fogy. If you are forty or older you are a fogy. (whether you will admit it or not) I have to work very hard at keeping up with the times and to stay be in tune with the latest techs and trends of the younger generation. A fogy is someone with old fashion ideas, attitudes and manners. So the old fogy in me started thinking these kids are about to get out of hand. After the third song I talked to the kids a minute about the importance of spending time talking to God. I said, I am going to play one more song. This song doesn’t have any words to sing along with or dance to but I said, after about a minute I am going to give an invitation. I want to invite you to kneel at the altar. If there is anything you want to pray about then share it with me and we will pray about it together. When I gave the invitation all the kids and children and youth came forward. There was one kid who didn’t know exactly how to kneel at the altar. He kinda tried to squat on the floor and lean forward toward the rail. I had to explain that the padded part was the kneeling pad. He said, “oh, yea that’s a lot softer.” I said, “yea kid that’s why it is there.”
So, I started down the altar praying with one child after another child. I was amazed by two things. One: The important things that these kids were asking me to pray for. This kids were praying about serious stuff. The same types of things that I hear when praying with adults.
Two: How these same kids that looked wild and unorderly singing and praising earlier. Were so quiet and well behaved and respectful of this important and sacred prayer time with God. You see Jesus is the crowd changer.
Jesus can change old fogies like me into people who can praise and worship. Jesus can change young kids and children and youth into people can worship in spirit and honor. The church can learn a lot by watching innocent kids who have not yet been forced into old ideas, old attitudes and old manners. Are you a faithful bringer of people to Jesus?
I said a moment ago that we can divide the crowd that came to Peter’s house into two basic groups. The scripture lesson identifies two specific different groups in this crowd. The bringers are those who “brought” other people to Jesus. The second group are the…
“The whole town gathered at the door to watch.” Mark 1:33
The first thing I want to make clear is that Jesus offers something for everyone in the crowd. Some he healed.
Some he released from demonic possession. Some he showed what love and mercy and grace and forgiveness really looks like.
The word “watch” as used in Mark is a little less defined in the original Greek than the word “brought.” But basically it refers to an idea or the way we think or people who came to see the same thing. When we look at it using the technique of contextual criticism it implies that the people saw the same thing so they thought alike, about what they were seeing. We can conclude that they were very similar in where they were at spiritually. They were curious enough to come but they were distant enough to stay outside and not try to get any closer.
Adapted from Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity. Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house. He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it. The minute he got a “customer" he would clean up on him so the other flies would not get suspicious. Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spider web. The Old spider called him over, "Come in and sit for a spell." But the fairly intelligent fly said, "No, sir. I don't see other flies in your house, and I am not going in alone!" But a short time later the fly saw on the floor below a large crowd of flies on a piece of brown paper. He was delighted! If lots of other flies were doing it he would not be afraid at all. So he came in for a landing. Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, "Don't land there, stupid! That's flypaper!" But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, "Don't be silly. There's a big crowd there. Everybody's doing it. That many flies can't be wrong!" Well, you know what happened. He died on the spot. There were lots of fairly intelligent people who came to Peter’s house that day. But all they came for was to be part of the crowd. They came just to watch. They were more interested in social things. They are more interested in lifestyle than life gaining eternal life.
They are not yet the followers. They are not yet the bringers. Right now they are the watchers. Now don’t get me wrong. As people of God and disciples of Jesus we have to attract a crowd. If we are not attracting a crowd then we need to be asking what can we do to attract a crowd. We should be attracting new people into the Kingdom. So we have to ask the question: What does it take to get the whole town to gather at this house? That is the question we must answer as the people of God. How do we attract more watchers? Because we all started out as a “watcher.” But when we leave the real church after meeting the real Jesus we go out and become “bringers.”
Calling on people to repent and believe and be baptized. We must reach out to the community and attract a crowd. As that crowd becomes part of the people of God they change from a watcher to a bringer. Jesus is the crowd changer.
Our mission is to get people to come watch. Our prayer is that Jesus will change them into “bringers.” Through the power of the Holy Spirit we will carry the Good News out of Peter’s house, out of Capernaum,
out of Galilee, out of Israel, out of the church building, beyond the walls of this building, into our hearts,
into our souls, into our homes, into our lives, into the life of our neighbor, into the community, into the world.
Closing: Many in the crowd took Jesus home that day. The bringers took home the blessing of having brought someone to Jesus. They took home the joy of knowing they had helped make a difference and be part of the healing and changing of someone’s life.
A seed was planted in the eyes of the watchers. They saw the hospitality. They saw the healing. They saw the love and forgiveness, and the mercy and the grace. That made them think about what was missing in their own life.
The sick and demon possessed in the crowd were changed. They were delivered from an evil spirit that had captured them and oppressed and had a negative control over their life. They received deliverance. They received release. They were changed. Now unchained. Set free. Saved. They got their life back. The life God wanted them to have.
Would you define yourself more as “bringer” as someone who brings other people to Jesus. Or would you define yourself more as a “watcher? Which one are you? Jesus is “The Crowd Changer.”