God had been silent for around 400 years (according to scholars) when John the Baptist and then Jesus appeared on the scene. It was time for the “greatest story ever told” to be lived out in “Technicolor” before their eyes. Jesus, God’s own Son, would be that story. The people living it with Him were unaware of the significance of what was happening right under their very noses.
Jesus’ message to the people started out with the same message John the Baptist was sharing; REPENT for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! His message expanded from there. He also didn’t stay in one place or one region like John did. Jesus “went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom…” (Verse 22a).
Jesus stepped into His role fully now. He began calling for repentance, like John did, but coupled that message with miracles of healing. Jesus was already starting to draw crowds when He first came to Capernaum. When He met Peter and the crew by the Sea of Galilee (from yesterday’s story) He had a crowd following Him. They wanted what He was offering. He got into Peter’s boat to teach them so He could be heard by all. He performed a miracle for Peter and the others after He finished teaching. This miracle was done in plain view. I don’t know how many of the crowd was still around to see it and how many of those understood the significance of that catch, but Jesus’ first four disciples sure did.
The crowds following Jesus kept getting bigger. His teachings were alive and vibrant. He used storytelling to get His message out. What He said made sense and it quenched parched souls. Sure, there were a lot of people who didn’t get it and most (if not all) missed the deeper meanings hidden in those simple stories.
Many of the people being drawn to Jesus were not coming simply to hear His message. They were coming because they had heard He was providing more than just words. He was healing ALL who came to Him asking for help! He was freely offering hope to the hopeless. He didn’t discriminate based on type of pain or disease either. He healed them all! Matthew tells us He healed “every disease and every affliction among the people” (Verse 22b).
No wonder His fame spread. EVERYONE in pain wanted to meet Him. People from all around wanted to see Him. I would have been right there with them, trying to get close to Him too.
How did He keep order in the crowds? I imagine there was a fair amount of pushing and shoving to get close to Jesus. I can’t imagine these desperate people forming a line and patiently waiting their turn, like in the grocery store. “How can I be sure He won’t run out of time before I get my turn?” “What if He can’t heal me? I’ve tried everything else. What have I got to lose?” “Why would He even bother with the likes of me?” (That person would probably have stayed home if not for a loving family member who dragged them to where Jesus was.)
I would have packed up my husband and ran to where He was if I had been living then. That doesn’t mean I think His power or word is any less powerful today. I KNOW His words are still as poignant today at they were 2,000 years ago and He is still in the healing business. I/We just don’t see the miraculous works as much now as they did back then. I don’t discount any of the miracles He is still doing today. I simply wish I could receive one of them in my home for my husband. But then again, what my husband and I are walking through is keeping us relying on Him. Our struggles often refine and define us more than our victories. Who would I be if not for my hurdles?
Father God, thank You for Your word and Your healing power. Keep me always listening to Your stories. Keep me always willing to walk where ever You take me. I know You provide for all of my needs, including supplying grace to live with the issues You allow to continue in our lives. I trust that You have a plan for me and that the struggles I face are refining, and not defeating, me along the way to Your perfect ending. Keep me trusting in You, no matter what I walk through.