When I think of the crowds that flocked to see Jesus, my mind immediately goes to events like the Feeding of the 5000, the Feeding of the 4000, or the Festivals at the Temple in Jerusalem like the Passover. But before these events, crowds were beginning to form.
We read that right after Jesus invited Peter, Andrew, James and John to be fishers of men, “He continued to travel all over Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and delivering people from evil spirits.” Mark 1:39
The result of Jesus’ teaching and healing ministry is recorded in Luke 5:11.
“Great multitudes from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and from beyond the Jordan followed Him wherever He went.”
Jesus had performed miracles while He was in Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2-3). This, no doubt, brought the crowds up from Jerusalem and Judea. He was traveling throughout Galilee ministering, so obviously the people there were aware of Him. Beyond the Jordan? That’s where John the Baptist ministered. Jesus did little there to this point. John was preparing the way for the Messiah, pointing the way to Jesus. The people were listening. And the Decapolis? This was a Gentile region on the Eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. Maybe the Decapolis was included when Jesus “traveled all over Galilee,” but I doubt it. Galilee was a specific region, and a Jewish region at that. The Decapolis was a specific region, a Gentile territory. Maybe John the Baptist had reached the Decapolis. Maybe Jews who were living and working in the Decapolis were hearing rumors of this supposed Messiah and were coming to check it out.
Soon after this, Jesus healed a leper. Mark 1:40-45 and Luke 5:12-16 tell us what happened next.
“As the report of Jesus’ power rapidly spread, large crowds gathered to hear His teaching and ask for healing of their diseases. No longer could Jesus openly enter a town without being surrounded by large crowds. Even in the country, people from everywhere kept coming to Him. He often retreated to a secluded place where He could be alone and pray.”
When does a mere crowd become a multitude? I don’t know. Multitude is just merely classified as a “large number.” My guess. A crowd might be a number in the dozens all the way up to several hundred, but when the crowd grows in to several hundreds and even thousands, it becomes a multitude.
In Matthew 12:15-21 and Mark 3:7-12, we read of Jesus returning to the Galilean lakeshore. A large crow pressed in, so He stepped into a boat to teach.
“A large crowd from Galilee and Judea followed them- from Jerusalem, Idumea and places east of the Jordan River. They also came from Tyre and Sidon- a multitude who had heard reports of the great things Jesus was doing.”
Wow! Idumea, This was a region almost 50 miles south of Jerusalem, west of the Dead Sea, about 120 miles from Capernaum. The word of Jesus had spread all the way to Idumea.
Wow! Tyre and Sidon. These were coastal cities on the Mediterranean, northwest of Galilee. Tyre is about 35 miles from Capernaum, while Sidon is another 25 miles north of Tyre. The word of Jesus had spread all the way to Tyre and Sidon.
The Gospel was going viral! “The report of Jesus’ power rapidly spread!” As far North as Sidon and as far South as Idumea, almost 180 miles apart. No internet. No telephones. No social media. No planes, trains or automobiles. And yet the Gospel was going viral, rapidly spreading!
What would it look like for the Gospel to rapidly spread today? What would have to happen in my life to see the Gospel rapidly spread?
Father, that’s a movement I desperately want to be a part of!
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