Multitudes came to Jesus. He was the rock-star, the all-star of His day (minus the money and the attitude). Why did they come? What were they looking for?
Some came seeking a healer. Like Blind Bartimaeus, or the woman with the issue of blood. Some came looking for salvation. Like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. Some were looking for deliverance. Like the Gaderine or the Canaanite woman whose daughter was demon possessed.
But there were others who came for less spiritual reasons. They were like the Roman mobs who demanded “bread and games.” Who flocked to the arena to be entertained and fed. Or like modern Americans who are looking for a “free ride” and a not-so-real reality show.
Jesus at the end of a long day of ministry looked around at the thousands of people and had compassion on them. He told the disciples to feed them. Of course there was some confusion on how to do that until they found the five small loaves and the two fish, and Jesus proceeded to feed them all. It happened twice. Both times there was enough food for perhaps a couple of people, and Jesus not only fed thousands, but they gathered up baskets full of left-overs. After that the people followed Him because of the food.
He also had those who asked for a sign. Something to “wow” them. Something they hadn’t seen before. They treated their Savior like a wind-up toy, demanding that he entertain them. Some came just to watch Him long enough to catch Him in a lie, or a sin so that they could expose Him for what they thought He was.
Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith and understanding. He told those that were looking for food, that He was the bread of life and that they needed to eat His body and drink His blood. They were horrified and many left, never to return. When He asked the twelve if they were going to leave, Peter who sometimes seemed so dull, said “Where would we go? You have the words of Life.”
Some came and still come to Him, hoping for a quick fix, a way to make life easier. But following Jesus isn’t about an easy life or prosperity. Yes, the Father wants to bless us and give us good things, and He will. But Jesus warns us “that in this life you will have trouble.” But He also tells us not to fear because He is with us. Shortly after the two bread and fish feasts, Jesus is explaining to the disciples and the multitude that the elders would reject Him, that He would be killed, and that He would rise up. Peter tried to correct Him, only to be rebuked himself.
Mark 8:34-35 “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
The Message Bible says it this way: “Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?”
Before the first nail was ever driven into those kind work-callused hands, He spoke of carrying a cross of our own. My cross is not illness, my disobedient child, my needy mother, or that awful job. No, my cross is my flesh, my ungodly thought patterns and my own will. What did Jesus say in the garden when He anguished over His own cross? “Not my will, but yours.” I have to carry that cross-not indefinitely-just until I reach my own Calvary where I crucify my flesh and rise again with Christ.
Sometimes I find myself out of the Kingdom of Heaven and back into the world. My flesh is rebelling and my mind is full of those un-truths again. Then I have to pick up my cross again-and take my sin to God. He is always quick to forgive. How can I crucify this flesh? Say what God says about me, my situation. Do what He tells me. Read His word, replace the lies with the truth. Fast! Pray for others. Put others first. Thank God for your child, and that job. Honor your mother and rebuke that illness.
The Kingdom of God isn’t about “bread and games.” It is about living in Him. Showing the world how much He cares about us. It’s about walking in our authority, giving of ourselves. It’s about giving and receiving. Sometimes it’s about sacrifice. Living for Him instead of our own selfish desires.
Mark 8:36-37 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
What are you looking for?