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Following Jesus

Mark 3:7-8
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. (NIVUK)

The gospel story is a moving one - literally!  Jesus moved to call disciples ... they moved from their jobs to follow Him ... and Jesus kept on moving, (Mark often uses the words "immediately" or "the next day" to indicate the dynamic movement in Christ's ministry), and crowds of ordinary people covered large distances to keep up with Him.  Some think that Jesus' ministry was to make an impact on the ordinary people and gain a strong group of supporters to start the church, but that was not His intention or what happened.  Although many did follow, the majority fell away, leaving the disciples and a small group of women (John 6:66-71).  At His trial they all deserted Him (Matthew 26:56).  Jesus' ministry was not a publicity campaign; indeed He often withdrew from public attention (John 11:54).

In addition to Jesus teaching the truth and performing miraculous signs which demonstrated who He was and why He had come, He was training the disciples to be apostles (Luke 6:13).  Every word spoken and miracle built into a dynamic picture of their Master (Mark 8:27-30).  When the Holy Spirit filled them, everything made sense and they became the commissioned leaders of the church (Acts 2:14-24), boldly urging everybody to believe in Jesus (Acts 1:8).  So while Pharisees and Herodians were plotting to kill Jesus, He was training His disciples to explain the gospel and how to move … so that they were in the right place for God to speak through them.

In these verses, the geography lesson is important.  Jesus had moved out of Capernaum to a more isolated part of the inland Lake Galilee.  Local people followed and were joined by others from south east of the Dead Sea (Idumea), the Mediterranean coast (Tyre and Sidon), and the religious heartlands of Judea including Jerusalem.  Their migration to hear Jesus anticipated the pilgrims migrating to Jerusalem for Pentecost from all over the Roman empire, in what is now North Africa, Iraq, Turkey, Crete and Italy (Acts 2:1-12).  Jesus was showing the trainee apostles how to teach people who came to them, as well as going abroad … taking the gospel to people who had never heard (Romans 15:20).  

The apostles’ missionary accounts in Acts show that every circumstance was a new opportunity to speak the truth of Jesus, and let Him demonstrate His power.  We always need to advance in endurance and faith, and opposition might be the spur to trust God more where we are; but could it be that the threat of relocation or redundancy might be a divinely appointed new ministry opportunity?  Don't get trapped by adverse circumstances or aggressive people - Jesus wasn't - it may just be the nudge you need to move into new service for Him.

Dear Father. Thank You for the examples of what Jesus and the disciples did, to teach me how I might follow Jesus. Forgive me for being fazed by popularity or hostility. Teach me in what new way You wish to demonstrate Your power and truth through me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams