Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.
The Gospel of the Lord
This little passage reminds me of a time before Covid 19 — remember concerts before this pandemic began? Before everything went online, concerts were all about people — a now totally illegal amount of people — gathered together in one cramped space! But music has that effect, doesn’t it? It speaks to people individually; and a concert just brings everyone together. Well, Jesus had that ability to bring people together too, as today’s passage shows us. News about him spread almost as fast then as it does on Twitter now!
And for good reason. If you thought a music concert could draw the people in, imagine a show where the artist wouldn’t just take away your heartache for a few hours — he could take away your pain, your physical pain permanently! And with free entry for all! What would you do if you heard of such a show? You’d drop everything to make it, wouldn’t you? Well, the people from all the towns we heard about today — Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea — did just that. But if you were at the venue and still in pain, what then? You’d try and move closer to the stage, right? — to the source of the healing. Now Jesus didn’t have bouncers, or bodyguards, so he did the next best thing to avoid being crushed by the people who were trying to get close to him. He took the ‘stage’ to the middle of the sea!
Jesus got into a boat and began to teach from there — he hadn’t intended for it to be a ‘show’, but he certainly got himself a formidable audience. And there are two kinds of people that make up any audience — the fans and the critics. The critics are those who will come to rate the show; to check out what the big deal is about anyway. Likewise, a similar set of people came to the Jesus show too. One kind were the fans — the people that recognised what Jesus could do FOR them. The other kind were the critics — the unclean spirits — that ended up recognising instead what Jesus could do TO them! So while the fans flocked to Jesus and pressed closer to touch him, the unclean spirits fell down in fear before him.
Now where would we find ourselves in this audience? Because, unlike those people two thousand years ago who had to travel all that distance to meet him, we don’t have to go anywhere to find Jesus — he’s with us all the time. But do we appreciate what he does FOR us, every single day? Every day that we wake up is a gift, isn’t it? And do we know what he could do TO us, instead — if he so chose? It is only when we recognise Jesus as the Son of God — as someone who has the power to destroy us for our sins, but who shows us mercy and love every day instead — that we can begin to know him. And only when we truly know Jesus, will we begin to ask what we can do for him, instead! Even if it is something as simple as sharing these reflections with others.
Because honestly, can you think of a bigger superstar to talk about?
God bless you.