As you read Mark’s gospel, watch the role of the crowds. Earlier in the gospel, it’s the crowds that block a paralyzed man from being brought to Jesus. Instead, his friends have to tear apart the roof to lower their friend down to the healing presence of Jesus. Even in Luke’s gospel, it is the crowds who force Zacchaeus into the tree in order to even catch a glimpse of the Savior. Today, the crowds that follow Jesus push Him right out into the lake in a boat. But they aren’t there for His teaching or for a relationship with Him. The crowds are said to crowd Jesus with their jostling because “He had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch Him.”
Today it is no different. Crowds gather wherever there is something to be had. Faith healers, promises of health, wealth, and blessing, big names, and entertainment all draw huge crowds while faithful relational churches doing good ministry continue to shrink. Ask anyone who has left a church for another why they left and ultimately it will come to the fact that they weren’t getting what they wanted.
And so, Jesus calls a few people out of the crowds to be His “church”, His disciples. 12 men chosen not because of their ability or zeal or righteousness, but because Jesus chose them. 12 men who will follow Jesus more closely than any others. 12 men who will learn more, share more, grow closer to Jesus than any other. While the crowds are blocking Jesus from those He wants to serve, heal, and love, His disciples will draw people to Him, if not now while they are learning from Jesus, then throughout the rest of their lives after His Resurrection.
What is the difference between the crowds and the disciples? Which group best exemplifies you and me?