As restrictions are gradually being lifted, we have seen over the past few week’s crowds returning to a number of sporting and music events. It’s been good to see ‘normality’ returning in some way and from the reaction of many, attending such events has been a ‘tonic’ after the past 16 months!
However, it can be terrifying when enthusiastic crowds surge and you are in danger of being swept off your feet. Sadly, there was an example of this at Wembley Stadium on Sunday from a number who forced their way into the stadium, as they didn’t have tickets. Regrettably, we have also seen tragic incidences where people have been crushed to death, such is the force of a ‘human tide’!
In my daily reading from Mark ch.3:7-12, it occurred to me that it wasn’t difficult to imagine the atmosphere that surrounded Jesus. Mark tells us that ‘a large crowd followed Him’…. And it seems that the crowd was growing by the minute, because at one point Jesus instructs His disciples to have a small boat ready so they could retreat to it, ‘so the crowd would not crush Him’ or as The Message translation says, ‘so that He would not be trampled upon’…..
In essence, Jesus was the ‘superstar of the moment, the celebrity everyone wanted to get near to! Well, not everyone. As we know the Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus. In Mark 3:6, after Jesus had healed a man with a deformed hand, ‘on the Sabbath’, ‘at once, the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus’. Why would they connive to murder a man who, as Peter reminds us in Acts 10:38, ‘went around doing good’?
Returning to Jesus and the ‘pressing crowd’, Mark’s brief description is not a million miles away from mass hysteria. Expectations and possibly tempers would have been ‘sky high’! But this was not God’s way! After spending 40 days in the wilderness before commencing His public ministry, Jesus was tested to perform ‘crowd-pleasing stunts’! ‘Turn these stones into bread’; throw yourself off the highest point of the temple’, and so on. But, the Son of God had not entered our world to simply please crowds or to be the latest celebrity in town!
Jesus entered our world to lead people back to God and that was via the cross. To die on a cross for the sins of the world and to demonstrate just how much God loved us and that He so wanted that relationship, that had been broken by sin, to be fully restored again.
It seems that although ‘huge crowds followed Jesus’, their interest was not in things spiritual. Jesus offered forgiveness, fulfilment and freedom; but they refused His offer.
However, speaking from experience, accepting what Jesus offers exceeds all your expectations! May that be your experience today.
‘Amazing love, O what sacrifice, the Son of God given for me. My debt He pays and my death He dies, that I might live, that I might live’……