Jesus and Crowds – Matthew 8:1 and 18 reference completely different accounts of Jesus’ relation with crowds. This is surprisingly different for someone who came to spread a message – the crowd being the best medium, or is it?
He attracted crowds but he didn’t live for the crowds. He lived for his Father’s will, wherever that took him – to the crowd or away from the crowd.
“Great crowds followed him,” and, “when Jesus saw the crowd … he gave orders to go over to the other side.”
Crowds have a compelling and numbing effect upon us. If we see our lives through ‘the crowd’ we don’t have a life (ultimately). An addiction to crowds is still an addiction, and the problem with addictions is their awful habit of providing diminishing returns.
The danger of crowds was faced by Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness, described in frank and bold terms by Matthew in chapter 4 of his gospel. Jesus overcame the compelling gravitational attraction of the crowds and their false promises then. They can as easily turn on you as laud you – as proven in the entrance to Jerusalem and his trial and crucifixion.
He came for the crowds but he didn’t live for the crowds.
He both ministered to and avoided them.
Knowing the difference is a matter of wisdom and guidance.
A self-possessed person can both work with the crowd and walk away from the crowd. Both are necessary.