Crowds and character


Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.

Jesus Appoints the Twelve

It is comforting to know, as this passage shows, that Jesus accepts all types.

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

When Jesus was here He was pretty amazing. Come to think of it, He is still pretty amazing! God in the flesh, dwelling among us. With compassion, He healed and when He spoke, it was with the same authority that commanded creation into existence. It was enough to draw a crowd—and a big crowd at that. Wherever He went, crowds followed. This is important to remember as a church. We can attract crowds with programs, with our social justice (healing the sick, feeding the poor) and with the show we put on. We can even introduce people to Jesus and He can change their lives. But we must allow that work to be continued on a deeper level throughout our lives. Many stay in the crowd following Jesus and never become involved in His work. Among the crowds following Jesus there were “impure spirits.” Even among His chosen disciples, there were men of questionable character and even a traitor. So I can’t get too complacent merely following Jesus; I wish to be used by Him.

This passage clearly states that the 12 were chosen to be sent out! They were not just followers but workers, apostles, operatives, ambassadors. They went out on His orders, preaching and using His authority. Am I a chosen disciple in that way or do I just follow the crowds? Jesus does amazing things—He can heal and change people, they still receive His salvation but to actually experience Jesus’ ministry, we are called to go.

It is comforting to know, as this passage shows, that Jesus accepts all types. He had the government man, the zealot, the brothers known as “sons of thunder” (I am assuming they had wicked tempers) and fishermen. Representing all types of people, occupations and temperaments, the disciples were a mixed bunch. But the God in whose image we are all made, can tame and mould us all. The good news for me is, God can tame my own temper, my complaining attitude and my prejudice!

What do you need Jesus to take from your character? And when Jesus takes something, He doesn’t leave you empty-handed. He replaces whatever is taken with His fruits of the Spirit. Those are much better character traits and will equip you for service in His Kingdom.