With only word-of-mouth and no advance man or professional handlers, how did Jesus attract and hold crowds?
The compelling factor in the earthly ministry of Jesus was not His oratory, His miracles, or His sterling team of helpers. It was His compassion. His ministry was not a show; it was a rescue. His teaching was not a debate; it was a deliverance. His presence was not a special effect; it was a visitation from heaven. He really cared! He healed people because their sickness broke His heart. He delivered people from demons because they were not made for them, but for God. He taught the truth because lies are terrible, destructive things. He spoke peace because tension and strife were everywhere.
Compassion with Power
It is one thing to feel compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves but Jesus had the power to do something about it! When He left for His next place of ministry, somehow two blind men followed Him. Their cry to Him indicated they believed He indeed was Messiah.
“Son of David, have mercy on us!”
Jesus asked them if they had faith to believe in Him and His powerful compassion and they answered simply, “Yes.” As they stretched forth their necks, offering their sightless eyes to Him, He touched them saying,
“According to your faith let it be to you.”
Faith mixed with compassion can change things in this world. Immediately their eyes were opened. Darkness gave way to blessed light for each of these men. Many in the crowd began to feel the compassion of this man called Jesus and wondered if there was help for them, too.
Despite Jesus’ instructions to keep it quiet, the two men told everyone they saw. Emboldened by this miracle, a group of people brought a friend who was mute and demon-possessed. Jesus made short work of both afflictions to the further amazement of the crowd. Each of them said some version of:
“It was never seen like this in Israel!”
This tacit indictment of the leaders of the country was too much for the Pharisees standing by.
Compassion without Power
No doubt there were good men among the Pharisees, Sadducees, priests and scribes who really cared for the people. Their compassion was limited by human weakness. They had no power to heal diseases or correct handicaps or expel demons. Their compassion was vocal but not substantial, an ecclesiastical pat on the back. Obviously they had to mount some sort of defense.
“He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.”
This hasty defense collapsed of its own weight. It made no sense for Satan to divide his kingdom and cast out his own demons.
A Flood of Compassion
There followed a deluge of healing grace leading to a flood of compassion charged with the power to make a difference. Doors to synagogues were opened to Jesus. Fields turned into amphitheaters and projecting rocks into pulpits as Jesus met the crowds preaching the gospel of the Kingdom.
As miracle after miracle occurred, the burden of the overwhelming need began to weigh heavy on Jesus. He saw the never-ending multitude as sheep with no shepherd. He turned to His disciples with an agonizing request.
“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
What did He mean? He was saying, “Share my compassion; I will give you power.”
When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that no one knows it.” But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country. As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.” Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.
Lord Jesus, You walked this earth in the compassion of Jehovah God, promised long before and lasting to this moment. You would be justified in turning to us in judgment but You have chosen mercy. Help me feel Your broken heart for those who have never heard of Your compassion. So many don’t believe that You exist or that You are good. Lord, send workers into this desperate harvest field, communicators who can tell the Good News, artists who can depict Your mercy, story-tellers who can tell Your story, and caregivers who can touch hurting souls with Your compassion. Until You come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
Reach out and Touch the Lord
Words and Music: Bill Harmon
Reach out and touch the Lord As He walks by.
You’ll find He’s not too busy To answer your cry.
He is passing by this moment Your needs to supply.
Reach out and touch the Lord As He walks by.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.