The Crowd Around Jesus


Positional correctness means personal responsibility.

The crowd around Jesus is sometimes the greatest hindrance to those who desperately need Him. This was often true in the earthly ministry of our Lord.

Consider first the experience of Bartimaeus. When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing his way, “…he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace…” (Mark 10:47- 48). This demand came from the crowd following Jesus. These people lacked two things which are essential for effective ministry: sensitivity and compassion. They were blinded to the needs of the blind man by their obsession with themselves.

On another occasion there was a woman with an issue of blood. For twelve long years, she had “…suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:26). When she heard of Jesus, she was filled with hope. However, the crowd around Him became a problem for her. In order to touch His garment, she had to press her way through the crowd.

One other example should be sufficient to illustrate the point. It is recorded in the second chapter of Mark. Vicarious faith inspired four men to bring their friend, who was sick with the palsy, to Jesus. But the scripture declares, “…they could not come nigh unto him for the press” (Mark 2:4).

What a disturbing picture these three stories portray. In every case, the very ones who were in a position to befriend the needy, failed to do so, and instead, actually hindered those who were trying to get to Jesus. They were positionally correct. They were near Jesus. They were close enough to hear His voice and see His miracles. However,
they failed to act redemptively toward their fellow man.

There is great accountability for those who have the advantage of being close to the Lord. The scripture declares, “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; cloth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, cloth not he know it: and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:12).

Four groups can be identified in the crowd which followed Jesus. First, the selfish religionists were there. They sought to perpetuate themselves. They listened to every word Jesus spoke. They watched every move He made, and in their arrogance, made accusations against Him. They were quick to judge and condemn others. They were proud of their pedigree. They had one agenda in mind, and that was to justify themselves. There is no record that this group ever rendered assistance to anyone in need.

Then there were the curious spectators who were only looking for another sensation. They clamored for signs and wonders, not because they believed, but because they wanted to be entertained. They were not prepared to make a commitment to discipleship. The ministry of Jesus Christ was to them a cheap thrill. Had there been something more sensational around they would have gone for it.

A third group helped make up the crowd around our Lord. These were the ones who were near Jesus because of the bread and the fish. They refused to make a personal commitment to Jesus. As soon as the cross became obvious, they wanted nothing more to do with Him. Like the early morning dew when the sun comes up, they disappeared and Jesus was left alone to face His accusers.

The Lord’s own disciples were there as well. Even they were sometimes guilty of attitudes which were no better than the attitudes of many others. They were guilty of envy and strife. They argued over who was the greatest (Mark 9:4). Some of them clamored for special positions (Matthew 20:21). I am stricken with the fact that satan was able to convince one who was a part of this fourth group to betray Jesus.

How does this apply to you and me in the closing hours of the Church age? In simple terms, it means that it is possible to be positionally correct, but focused wrong, and therefore condemned by God. Just as the one who occupies the exit seat of an airplane is responsible in an emergency, we are responsible for those around us.
The blessing of being strategically connected with God carries with it both responsibility and accountability. If we fail to act decisively and responsibly, God will hold us accountable.

We are often faced with the very same hindering elements which existed in Christ’s day. The names and situations have changed, but the spirits and attitudes are the same. The real mission of the Church is forgotten and misguided individuals form little power groups of dissension and distraction. Selfishness and ego motivate them. Envy and
strife run rampant through the group, resulting in an atmosphere of suspicion and gossip. Sometimes miracles occur, in spite of us, not because of us.

Is there not someone with vicarious faith who will act with holy boldness and begin to dismantle our complacency and sense of security in order to help someone get to Jesus? Those who love their comfort zone will call such a one a vandal. But those who are seeking Jesus will call him a friend.