“A large crowd of His disciples was there, and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem and who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases.” Luke 6:17b, 18a.
People were attracted to Jesus like iron filings to a magnet. He was exactly what they needed. The doctors of their day could not do much. Serious and chronic conditions were incurable. Jesus blew like a fresh breeze into their lives. Who would not run after someone who could alleviate suffering, fix broken bodies, and speak words of life and hope?
Even people from outside Israel came to listen to Him. It was a glorious time for broken and helpless people, and He had no lack of followers. Sometimes they crowded Him so much that He had to retreat to far-away places just to get a little rest from the clamouring crowds.
It was never Jesus’ intention just to be a solution for human problems. He came for a much greater purpose than that. He called people to be followers and imitators of Him because there was a broken world beyond their borders that needed Him and the message He came to bring.
He was popular as long as He spoke about the kingdom of God and the love a Father, but when He began to teach them about the kind of life He expected them to live as citizens of God’s kingdom, to follow and obey Him and to be generous towards all people, to care about others more than themselves and to serve rather than be served, His popularity waned.
“Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people and said to them… ‘I have examined Him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against Him…’ …With one voice they cried out, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” Luke 23:13, 14b, 18.
When Jesus was on trial before Caiaphas, He was challenged to give His credentials. “Are you the Christ, The Son of the Blessed?” asked the High Priest. Jesus acknowledged the claim, “It is as you say.” Caiaphas was elated. “Blasphemy,” he roared. “Guilty as charged.” Was it not his responsibility to call witnesses to ensure that his verdict was accurate? How was he going to prove Jesus’ guilt or innocence without testing His claim? Where were the people whose lives were changed through His healing power? Where were the enthusiastic crowds who hung on His words and marvelled at His teaching and His authority?
It seems that the same people who received His mercy and compassion were among those who shouted for His death. What happened to their faith? Where was their loyalty? How tragic that many who call themselves believers today melt away when the pressure is on. Faith is Jesus is not about what we can get out of Him but about who He is. If He is the Christ, the Son of God, we have no option but to worship Him because, outside of Him, we have no hope.