In the Gospel from Mass for today (Mark 3:7-12), Mark tells of how fervent the crowds were who followed Jesus in Galilee:

[7] Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed; also from Judea [8] and Jerusalem and Idume’a and from beyond the Jordan and from about Tyre and Sidon a great multitude, hearing all that he did, came to him.  [9] And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they should crush him; [10] for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.  [11] And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” [12] And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

This is a remarkable recounting of how large and frenzied the crowds were that followed Jesus.  Consider:

  • Jesus is highly popular; He is drawing crowds from a large area, from all directions including from outside Israel (Idumea, beyond the Jordan, Tyre and Sidon).
  • In this age of mass media and communications and flash mobs, it is easy to miss the remarkable thing happening in this passage: through word of mouth, people are not only hearing, but responding by traveling great distances to see this man Jesus.  No cars, no mass transit.  No phones, no texts, no emails.  Simply one person, moved by Jesus telling others.  The response is contagious and powerful.
  • Jesus, ever anticipating and knowing (perhaps, Divinely), that the crowds may “crush him”, direct His disciples to have a get-away boat ready.  Clearly, there were many, many people and they were intensely drawn to Jesus.
  • It is also interesting to note that Jesus does not attempt to avoid the crowd, allowing “all those who had diseases” to press upon Him and touch Him.  Ask yourself:  if a bunch of diseased people were seeking to touch you, would you run in the other direction?  Not Jesus.  Clearly, He is not afraid of any illness.
  • In contrast to the Pharisees and Herodians from yesterday’s Gospel (Mark 3:1-6) who seek to destroy Jesus, those with unclean spirits recognize Jesus for who He is: “The Son of God”.  The multitudes also recognize the Divine greatness of Jesus.

The crowds are so drawn to Him that Jesus is concerned about being “crushed”.  They are moved to passionate action.

What will Jesus say about your passion for Him?