“Turkeys flock, but Eagles soar.”
”In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” — Thomas Jefferson
”If everyone else jumped off a bridge…”
Ancient proverbs, founding fathers, your Mother; all have their advice about succumbing to peer pressure and following the crowd. Nature understands the safety in numbers: the adjectival crash of rhino’s or murder of crows (nod to Poe); the aptly named tower of giraffes or bloat of hippos; or the alliterated leap of leopards or prickle of porcupines. If you have ever watched one of those nature documentaries on Nat. Geo or the Discovery channel, before reality mechanic shows and survival shows took over, of the wildebeests crossing the river in front of the crocodiles, the principle is fully on display. But success, especially in America and contrary to all of history, is all about standing out and swimming upstream. Mike Rowe put it best in this video (if you watch until the end). That American ideal is also contrarian to understanding Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. To understand what Jesus did in the book of Mark, follow the crowd.
Much of Jesus ministry was done in view of the crowds.
- He led them
- He fed them
- He taught them
- He performed miracles before them
- He was praised, arrested, sentenced and mocked by them (all in a week)
His public ministry was just that: it was public. Despite some of his best efforts, he was with people most of the time. He was forced “to get up while it was still dark, very early in the morning” in order to pray (Mark 1.35). The only times that Jesus is recorded to be alone in Mark, he is either praying (1.35; 6.42; 14.35) or healing (7.53).
One of the biggest things he did in front of them was healed. On 8 different occasions Jesus healed before the crowds. Sixty-six percent of the time he healed someone, it was before the people. Only 4 times did he not follow this pattern.
- He healed a deaf and mute man privately (7.53)
- He raised a girl from the dead in front of Peter, James, and John (Mark 5)
- He healed Peter’s mother-in-law with Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 1.31)
- He drove the Evil Spirits out of the Gadarenes Demoniac with the Twelve watching on (Mark 5) because the crowds couldn’t get around the lake fast enough.
The pattern had been set as healing was meant to be seen publicly. All the times it wasn’t on display, the connecting ties are few and far between. The number of people who were either healed, witnessed his healing power, or saw the result of his healing power would have stretched exponentially both in geography and in time.
- Every marriage that is saved through repentance and submission has been touched with his healing.
- Every man who finds recovery from a porn addiction has felt it.
- Every middle school student who has felt the sting of depression and loneliness, who finds grace and compassion in Jesus arms, knows his healing.
- Every parent who has lost a child, but finally is able to pen a letter to them, knows the power of his healing.
- Every victim of disaster who has ever received a warm meal and a warm blanket as they begin to piece back together their life, has felt his touch of healing.
Healing was communal. It is communal. It was public and it was celebrated. Jesus lived this out.
Indications point to a population of 500,000 in Palestine during the Second Temple Period. I think this easily puts a 100 grand within 2 degrees of seperation of Jesus and his healing ministry.
While Jesus was alone, he prayed. While he was with the Twelve, he explained, corrected, and taught. With the crowds, the 100 grand, Jesus was the compassionate healer, who’s arms were open to all who came.
But what about the Three Musketeers?
To be continued…