Throughout the gospels we’re told of how large crowds would follow Jesus. The word crowd appears in 14 of Mark’s 16 chapters. In the short passage we’re looking at this week (Mark 3:7-35) we are told of two different times where Jesus encountered crowds. On one occasion there were so many people crowding around Jesus and his disciples that they couldn’t even eat! These crowds of people had heard about Jesus and how he was healing the sick and casting out demons. They were seeking out Jesus, eager to have an encounter with him because of their suffering. There were also those just simply keen to watch Jesus in action and see the miracles he was performing. In short, the crowds were seeking out Jesus for what He could do for them.
I have been guilty of doing the same thing. When I was a new Christian I briefly mixed with a small group of friends that would go from church to church, conference to conference hoping to get some sort of touch from God through whoever the guest speaker was at the time. We would go to meetings and respond to altar calls eager to receive a prophetic word or have an encounter with God through someone praying for us. We considered ourselves zealous and hungry for God but I think our motives were mixed. Mine certainly were! I wasn’t only after a touch from God. I was attracted to one of the guys in our group and was eager to go along with them just so that I could be near him. After a while I began to feel uncomfortable spending time with these friends. With the advice from a pastor, I moved on.
I would like to say that since that time I’ve learnt to relate to God beyond what He can do for me, but this is something I still struggle with. I can look back at different times in my life where I thought I was truly seeking after God only to see in hindsight that I wasn’t after His presence – I was after Him doing something for me. God wants us to go to Him for all of our needs but when we’re doing this only, then our relationship with Him is lacking and I truly believe that He’s sad when this is what our relationship with Him is reduced to.
Like the disciples, Jesus calls us to Himself. He wants to do more than meet our needs. He wants to do life with us. As we involve Him in every aspect of our lives then our intimacy with Him will grow and we’ll experience His character and learn His ways. Having God meet our needs is great but experiencing His presence is precious beyond words.