Summary: In Jesus’ ministry he was often times surrounded by crowds. What did Jesus see when he was among the crowds? Do we see the same things?
As you probably know I’m a big fan of the NFL. Of course you know I’m a huge Dallas Cowboy fan. Three weeks into the season I’m just glad that they have a winning record so far. But last Monday night on Monday night football the Green Bay Packers came to Soldier Field to play the Chicago Bears. But this wasn’t the historic Soldier Field that has seen so many big victories and had some great Bears teams that played there, including 1985 Super Bowl shuffle addition. This was a brand new state of the art stadium and it was the first game played in it. For those fans who went there to see a Bears victory they left extremely disappointed. But that wasn’t the only problem. Apparently some of the concourses and ramps leading to the cheap seats were made way too narrow. And it almost turned into a mob scene. The Chicago Sun-Times described it this way: “No movement. No way out. People were body to body coming from four different directions into one area. It was fear and near-panic, with one woman crying, dozens of people screaming.” It went on to say, “SportService workers delivering food to the upper-deck concession stands gave up, stood next to a stack of sausages on a dolly and shook their heads.” One security guard said, “I don’t like this. What if there’s a problem? There’s nothing we can do. We could have another E2 nightclub here.” E2 is a club in Chicago where in February crowds mashed together unable to get out the door and 21 people were killed. There were several people in the logjam at the Bears game with that memory in mind chanting E2! E2! E2!
When we have instances like that it’s one reason why some people refuse to go places where there are large crowds. Some people do everything they can to avoid crowds. When I used to work third shift in a grocery store I had faithful customers who would always come in the wee hours of the morning simply because they wanted to avoid crowds. I don’t mind crowds except when it’s like what happened at Soldier’s Field. But when you are in the midst of a crowd what do you see? Do you ever look at the people you are surrounded by and wonder what’s going in their life? Do you find yourself making assumptions by something you hear them say or something they are wearing? During Jesus’ ministry he was often times surrounded by large crowds. What did Jesus see when He was out among the crowds? Today in our scriptures He is among the crowds and the scriptures give us a picture of what He saw among the crowds.
What did Jesus see when he was among the crowds? He saw people in need. It tells us that when Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. There were so many in the crowds that were hurt and in so many ways they were helpless. They were lacking someone in their life to lead them down the right path. I have no doubt today that if Jesus were here physically today that if he went to a place with a crowd, whether it be a mall or a large metropolitan street, that he would see much the same thing that he saw then. There are people in need. By people in need I don’t just mean in a financial sense. There are people who are living their life and they are just lost. They don’t have a clue and they have no real leader in their life. But when we are among those same crowds do we see what Jesus sees or are we too busy with our own lives and our own agendas to see what we really need to see. Jesus was filled with compassion when he saw the needs. But this wasn’t a one time deal here. Jesus wasn’t just having an emotional day and in his emotional state he all of a sudden realized the need and emptiness in the people around them. Having compassion on the people in need spiritually and physically was a routine part of Jesus’ life. Time and time again throughout scriptures we are told that Jesus had compassion on them. In Mark 6:34 the scriptures said, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” But what makes this one extraordinary is that Jesus’ day with the Apostles and crowds had been intense. So intense that they had not even had a chance to eat. So Jesus says to the disciples, “Come on lets go off by ourselves to somewhere it quiet and get some rest.” So they grabbed their boat got in it and went to find that quiet place to rest. But when they got to the place they were looking for a crowd of people had already gathered. Many of them somehow knew where they were headed and ran on foot and beat them to the place they were going. Now if I was Jesus I would have said, “listen people I’ve given you everything I can right now. I’m tired and I’m hungry. Give us a little down time and I will be back to help you.” But the scriptures said, “When he saw the large crowd he had compassion on them.” Jesus didn’t even let his own weariness stop him from seeing the need among the crowds. He didn’t let his weariness stop him from doing what he could to meet those needs. Yet so many times we let what is going on with us make us blind to the needs in the crowd around us. Sometimes we become so absorbed in our needs and struggles that we don’t even realize that there is a crowd around us. There are times as a pastor when I’ve had a full day whether it’s been preaching or whether it’s been dealing with a difficult situation and I want to go home and just not answer the phone or my door. And I see what Jesus did here and boy, do I feel selfish. But I honestly feel like when you are tired it’s so easy to turn your eyes inward and not see the needs around you. But the problem is, even when we aren’t consumed with being weary and tired from our own lives problems, we often times do not open our spiritual eyes to the needs around us. The church will never be all that it can be until we see the crowds as Jesus did here. Until we can stand among the crowds and feel the hurt and pain in our society, until we can stand among them see them through Jesus’ eyes instead of our own judgmental attitude. To be honest: That’s why a lot of people do not want to have anything to do with church and God because they see and feel the judgmental attitudes that we have as Christians. Christ was able to minister to the prostitutes and people of the streets because he was able to see them for who they were intended to be and not what they had allowed themselves to become. Until we can look at people in the same way we are going to have a hard time breaking through and making a difference. What Jesus saw in the crowd was people in need. But what do you see?