Mathew 4:25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
We rejoice reading the account of Mathew sharing what he saw in his time: hundreds and thousands following Jesus. We want to see that in our time. We want to see multitudes following Jesus. We pray, we preach, we help, we live holy lives, we are totally surrendered to God’s will. Do we?
I think what has been in Mathew mind when he write this account. He was one of His followers. Later at chapter 9 he tells his story, as Jesus called him and he left his life and followed Jesus. We don;t know how many times Mathew have encountered Jesus before the Master asked him to follow him. But we know that Mathew’s following was different that the multitudes following.
We read earlier: Mat 4:23-24 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatics, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
Apostle John said the same in his account of the events: John 6:2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
So Jesus was popular in that time as he healed people. Only those who hate him, would resist going to Him for help. He had powers and he can do things that none could. Everybody needed the doctor, the savior and helper.
But when Jesus spoke to the multitudes some hard teaching, almost all the followers left him. He started saying at John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Jesus knew why people where coming at his meetings. They were not following Him, they were following his power, his ability to fix them. They were not very interested to listen and to change their attitudes towards God. They wanted their religion and Jesus was coming as a quick fix.
Later he added: Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:27)
Is it true that people haven’t change? They work for the perishable stuff. Apostle Paul years later said: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 1Cor 15:19
We live in a very materialistic world and we are ALL affected by this. The challenge we have this age as believers is that MUST be different in our hopes, beliefs, plans and actions. Believing in Jesus MUST not be another type of personal faith. Having our eyes fixed on Jesus and his coming Kingdom, will give us a different perspective how we live and how we invite others to experience what we live. In a time where businesses fight to get customers by offering them what they want, the church definitely needs to come with another angle. To preach God’s word even when it is hard to hear, even knowing that many will leave. Following Jesus means doing things in the same principle He did and saying what He would say in our time. Don;t forget that He was not always popular among the crowds that followed Him:
John 6:60, 66 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Mark 15:8-15 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.
Don’t look for the crowds to follow, they don;t define the success of your ministry as a follower of Jesus.