Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Willingness (02/21/05)
TITLE: Seeing the Crowds
By Richard Barnett
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Did you ever wonder what Jesus saw when he beheld those crowds? People from all parts of Judah and the known world; Israelites, Jews of the Dispersion, and foreigners; representatives of the religious establishment, members of sects and those who did not keep kosher; desperately ill people and the merely curious; decent folk and rogues; educated and illiterate; open-minded people and fault finders?
Jesus was, as John the Evangelist recorded, the man who knew all men and what was in man (John 2:25). His experiences in working with wood and people sharpened his human faculties and understanding of people. His divine nature refined his sensitivities.
Therefore Jesus must have seen more than an overwhelming mob of people to avoid. He responded willingly to these crowds by teaching them. Jesus had the ability to see people in crowds as individuals. He saw their hopes and their dreams, their lusts and their passions. He saw their strengths and their weaknesses, their successes and their shortcomings. He felt their infirmities and anxieties, their emotions and struggles. He saw how what each one lived for and by reflected the importance of God in his or her life. He saw who felt great and self-sufficient in his own sight and he saw who looked to God for help. He valued each one as human timber for building the Kingdom of God. He had a vision of what each one could achieve in God’s service.
That is why Jesus welcomed everyone he met and grieved whenever someone turned away. Jesus usually waited for people to bring their requests to him. Occasionally, however, he took the initiative to heal sick or disabled people before they recognized him (e.g., Luke 13:10-17; John 5:6). On this particular day, he invited the crowds to sit down with him and his disciples in a grassy natural amphitheatre where people could hear him speaking to their inner needs. In every case Jesus proved himself the true Son of the one God who sees and hears, walks and works among us.
Jesus urged his disciples to consider the birds of the air and lilies of the field (Matthew 6:26,28). He wanted them to reflect on what God’s creatures taught about trusting God. Such lessons taught the disciples to be observant and willing to turn aside in response to people, just as Moses turned aside to examine a strange sight (Exodus 3:3), and to have the sensitivity and willingness to share the concerns Jesus felt for others.
Jesus searches crowds today for disciples willing to learn the same lessons. Having seeing eyes, hearing ears, and compassionate hearts will make them open to God’s leading, willing to obey, and sensitive to others. They will be ready for everything that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived …” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NIV).
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