One critical aspect for correctly interpreting scripture is to accurately assess and identify the hearers of the message. It makes a difference when we discover the audience. When we stand back and take a look at Jesus’ ministry to the multitudes, we find that He healed them, brought about spiritual deliverances, fed, and taught them. They gathered around Him, often traveling from distant villages, for what they would receive. Their poverty, illnesses and deep oppression sent them looking for a savior….to remedy their earthly needs. They sought One who had the reputation as a Sign Giver. ‘Please…..work just one more sign in our midst’. At the end of the day, He healed, delivered, fed and taught…but He did not entrust Himself to them (John 2:24). The multitudes came for what they would GAIN.
A number of years ago, I was asked the following question: “How can I possibly witness to my neighbors– they have no apparent needs. They seem to have a great relationship, their children are doing well, they love their jobs, and have no apparent financial or health issues.” As I remember, we were sent into the world to make disciples. Jesus never called a single disciple from a gathering of the multitude. He called disciples FROM their daily lives–places of work and relationship where they were invested and not necessarily pursuing any change. While multitudes gathered around Jesus for what they would receive, each disciple was called to leave their life and to FOLLOW.
Are we the multitudes–depending on a visitation from the Lord, or are we the disciples– delivering one (Matthew 10 and Luke 10)?