Everywhere that Jesus went he was sure to draw a crowd; what is most interesting about this crowd is that it was so diverse: Jews and Gentiles, Judeans and Sidonians, shepherds and religious leaders. People from all over the region came to press around him so that he might heal them. This seemed to disturb Jesus who asked to be rowed off shore a little ways so that he could teach the crowds from a boat.
How so little has changed between then and now! Jesus draws a really diverse crowd of people who would never otherwise come together. People of every prejudice and animosity were drawn together by Jesus! How tragic that in church today, we are forcing these people out of our fellowships because of our desire for homogeneity. It is easier to design our churches for one group of people rather than do the hard work of redesigning our churches to be inclusive of the people Jesus would like to draw in…that is a shame.
It frequently occurred as Jesus was trying to get away with his disciples that the crowds would find out where he was. It seems they took “seek and you will find” quite literally! Yet, every time that the crowds would find him, Jesus would always take the time to tend to them both physically and spiritually. How exhausting! How ridiculous! Still, Jesus was willing to be tired and exhausted for the people.
It is almost as if Jesus went to these large desolate places because he knew that the large crowds would be able to reach him there.
We see also that Jesus desired to teach more than he desired to heal and do miracles. The request to be put out into the sea was an attempt to teach the crowds and deny them access to the miraculous. Jesus was extremely critical of a faith based entirely on signs and felt needs (though he did not shy away from these when it was his purpose to do so). He rather concentrated on declaring and demonstrating the kingdom that was being ushered in; a kingdom many thought would be the national restoration of Israel.
The demons knew who he was, but he was not going let them dictate his message. Every time they opened their mouths he shut them tight. He was not going to let the enemy of his purpose be in charge of his public relations; the kingdom of God and the hope of salvation was at stake.
How available are we to meet legitimate needs? I am not overly concerned about being a part of every little church event or activity, but what about those times when someone is in dire need of help? What if someone just wants us to pray or clarify something for them? How available are we (within reason) to others’ spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational needs? There has to be a balance of time we devote to our work, health, etc and time we give to others. Jesus was always available to meet people’s needs.
However, Jesus saw their need to hear of the kingdom of God as his first priority. If Jesus had to choose whether to teach or to heal, I am almost sure that he would teach. However, often he would demonstrate his teaching with power from the Father. So, Jesus very rarely did miraculous signs or wonders without a purpose and teaching behind them. The power of God is always a demonstration of the kingdom and its Christ.