Crowds: There were always crowds around Jesus. He attracted them because he healed people wherever he went. The link between healing and crowds is made in all the sources. Here, in Mark 3, we read: “When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him” .
Scoffing: Skeptics have always scoffed at these stories. N.T. Wright, however, offers a few quick responses to their objections. First, there are reports in the gospels of opponents accusing Jesus of being in league with the devil, “but those who loved and worshipped Jesus wouldn’t have invented tales of his being involved in dark arts” . Second, “the explanation Jesus gave for what was going on was that something new was happening – something powerful, dramatic, different. If all he’d been doing was encouraging people to feel better about themselves and not actually transforming their real lives, there would have been no sign of anything new. There would have been nothing to explain” .
Skepticism: Ultimately, however, Wright says we should be skeptical about skepticism itself: “In Jesus’s own day, there were plenty of people who didn’t want to believe his message because it would have challenged their own power or influence … Skepticism is no more ‘neutral’ or ‘objective’ than faith. It has thrived in the post-Enlightenment world, which didn’t want God (or, in many cases, anyone else either) to be king. Saying this doesn’t, of course, prove anything in itself. It just suggests that we keep an open mind and recognize that skepticism too comes with its own agenda. We should be prepared to follow where the story leads and see if these initially surprising bits of it make sense with the rest” .
Prayer: Lord, We confess that sometimes we avoid following Jesus because we, too, know that his message challenges our own power and influence. Yet we long to see what the crowds saw in his day – who he was, what he was like and what kind of kingdom he was promoting. Therefore, open our eyes and show us how much we need him to heal us so that we press around him to touch him. Amen.
Audio: Bible Listening
Genesis 32 (4:59 minutes) – here
Mark 3 (4:03 minutes) – here