“But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.” – Mark 1: 45
We’ve probably all seen clips on television of paparazzi chasing well-known actors and actresses doing the most mundane things. And most of us, while standing in line at the grocery store have glimpsed magazine covers with pictures of these same celebrities wearing hats and large sunglasses as they try to go about their days incognito in a world enamored with their celebrity status.
Jesus finds himself in a similar situation. No paparazzi, of course, but there were people who were sick and dying or possessed by evil spirits. And suddenly, here was a person on the proverbial stage who was able and willing to simply, by touch or by the spoken word, remove these illnesses or demons from their bodies. Thrust in this limelight, he put on his version of those sunglasses and hat by trying to escape to secluded places as we are told in this verse from Mark.
Here was the Son of God sent to earth moving away from the people He was meant to lead to God. It seems a little backwards. Why hide? If you were in His shoes, having been given the opportunity to spread healing and show people what it meant to live as the image of God, how would you manage this sudden celebrity status? For most of us as individuals, our reaction probably depends heavily on our personalities. But take your personality out of the equation and focus on the role of being here to show people who you are. What would you want them to know about you?
To answer that, put yourself in this time period, or step into the scriptures as Matt Chandler likes to say. What was happening in and around this time? God had given the laws of the Old Covenant to His people in Exodus 19-24 to guide them toward godly living. The Pharisees, by most accounts, seem to have been a sect focused on so adhering to the original laws of the Old Covenant that they created more laws to give clarity to the original commandments. Basically, 613 laws and rituals of sacrifices became further confounded by additional laws meant to clarify them. Looking at the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with the single warning that God gave them, not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, compared to the time that Jesus came to earth kind of makes my head spin. One warning had become thousands of rules!
The Son of Man was not meant to bring rules but to be an example. Parents, long ago I learned how much truth there is in the saying, “Children learn not from what you say but by what you do.” And Jesus was sent to be the “do-er” for God’s children, His people, to follow.
So, what was important? Sure, healing is something that God can do, and if nothing else, this demonstrated Jesus’ godliness. But, if our focus is on what someone can do rather than what they say, then we lose sight of who they are.
Remember the celebrities and the paparazzi. Yes, these people have talent, enough talent to be considered worthy of being on our television screens or in movies. But, is what they do who they are? In part, yes. But not as a whole.
And Jesus was not just about healing. He was about teaching, about showing us God’s perfect example of how to live a godly life here on earth. His purpose in his attempt to remove Himself from the crowds that sought Him out was less about him wanting to hide and more out of a desire to show us the real meaning of why He was here.
So, back to that question . . . what would you want people to know about you if you were suddenly thrust into his shoes? Think carefully before you answer and recognize that as a 21st century disciple of Christ, you are Jesus to a world that so desperately needs Him!