When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. Mark 9, verses 14-15.
The crowd in these verses could be a crowd in America today. Media fireflies swarm around Candidate A because they’ve anointed Candidate A as the Next Big Thing…until something bigger comes along. In high school, the in-crowd picks on the new kid until a newer kid comes along…and then he isn’t what they expect. At work, you’re swarmed by people who just want someone to help them get their work don, someone with a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of leadership initiative. Crowds are crowds no matter where you find them in time.
To me, the reaction of the law-teachers is natural. The teachers of the law were the Judean power structure (and they knew it). If anyone came along, they were a potential threat to that structure. Of course the teachers of the law would question, pivot on, and marginalize anyone whose words or actions could cause ripples in the carefully constructed pond. You can almost picture how the news traveled. “Have you heard? Some of those Galileans who follow that Jesus are here in town.” “Really? Go find out what they want. Take X and Y with you.” And then it would start.
But that crowd? They’re like any crowd. They want to be fed, want to be led, want someone, something who is truly genuine. When they saw Jesus’ followers, they swarmed them because they saw that ‘genuiness.’ When they saw the teachers of the law cornering Jesus’ disciples, they got even more interested. And when they saw Jesus Himself, they dropped everything they were doing and ran.
Don’t gloss over that phrase “they were overwhelmed with wonder.” Politicians, former senators, and political straphangers don’t impress me. Ditto the beautiful people from the red carpet. I’ve met enough famous people to discover they use the bathroom the same as the rest of us; the same as Jesus did, in fact. Yet this crowd in Judea saw something unusual in Jesus. They had heard the rumors about Him; they had seen the miracles He performed. Many of them had likely heard His teaching, which was spoken in kindly authority, words of love with a velvety steel core. Forgive, love, be patient, be ready, be strong, love your enemy, love your neighbor, love God: these weren’t the rote-lessons that the law-teachers taught. No, the people were overwhelmed with wonder because Jesus was wonderful.
So, I say it again: this could be a crowd in America today. This could be us at the State Fair, or at your local mall. Despite how things are tough all over, despite how the mores of society seem to be devolving quickly, despite the worry, the unemployment, the endless cycle of crises both real and manufactured, we still long for something real, something genuine, something kind but with loving authority. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we still very much long for Jesus.
Lord Jesus, I long for You. I want to be where You are, like You are, live my life like You ask me to.
Read Mark 9, verses 14-29.