Summary: There are three categories of people who were to be found with Jesus: the committed, the curious, and the condemned. Which one are we?
Scripture Reading: Mark 3:7-12
Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.
In this passage, we see that Jesus is becoming a kind of superstar, moving from national to international fame, as people in great numbers come from everywhere to meet him. They recognize him as a man of God — who else could heal the sick and drive out demons? — and are drawn to his ability to heal and deliver. These are, as this passage, describe them, the “great multitude”. But this passage, short though it is, describes two other categories of people: “his disciples” who followed him, and “the unclean spirits” who were threatened by him. Each has a special characteristic, and it would help us to introspect and see which category we fit in.
First, we have the disciples. They were people who were committed to Jesus. They heeded his call to follow him, learned what he had to teach them, and then went out to preach the good news in obedience to his command. Second, there is the multitude. These were largely people who were with Jesus out of self-interest. Whether it was healing they needed, or deliverance, or just free food, they weren’t really there for salvation. Of course, after hearing Jesus, some of them moved to becoming disciples, but most stayed right where there were. And, third, there were the unclean spirits. They bossed around until the real boss came, and then, it was the end for them.
Let us spend a few moments in honest introspection today to see which category we fall into. Are we in Category 1 — true disciples who heed Jesus’ call to follow him, listen attentively to what he has to say, and obey what he asks us to do? This demands a commitment that goes beyond attending a weekly church service. Or are we in Category 2 — just there to see what we can get out of Jesus for free? We can find this out easily enough by asking the question: “Would I rather go for a healing retreat or would I prefer to attend a retreat that invites me to discipleship?”
Or are we in Category 3 - that of unclean spirits. While we, quite obviously, are not evil spirits, they influence us to hatred, to vindictiveness, to rage, to lust, and so many other impure things. If we persist in sin and refuse to repent, or if we think lightly of the wickedness of the world and mock those trying to lead holy lives, or if we don’t believe we need salvation, then our end is not going to be any different from that of the unclean spirits themselves. But it doesn’t have to be like this. We can switch categories.
It would be wonderful if all of us made it to Category 1 as true disciples of Christ.
Today's devotional — Who Are You? — is based on Mark 3:7-12, the gospel reading for the day. The reflection is by Aneel Aranha, founder of Holy Spirit Interactive (HSI). Follow him on Facebook: fb.com/aneelaranha