The Greatest Show on Earth

Some say Jesus was tried and executed on the cross about this time of year, and there is some evidence this may be true. Tradition also implies that roughly three years before, Jesus began His ministry in Galilee about this time of year. No one really knows for sure.

Mark records the stunning way Jesus burst upon the scene in Galilee. The first three chapters of his book do not describe a gradual increase of His influence. Once His miracles started, great crowds of people from all over the area rushed to see what He was doing and to hear His remarkable teachings. They crammed the streets and lanes of Capernaum around the house where He was staying. “And the whole city had gathered at the door” (1:33). When He left for a few hours of prayer, people tried to find Him. “Everyone is looking for you” (1:37). The crowds became so large, the cities couldn’t contain them. “…Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere” (1:45).

Skeptics point out that popular figures throughout history have also created similar crowds, which does not prove they were reliable or truthful. Who’s to say Jesus was not just fooling gullible fans? Consider the following:

  • His miracles came in great varieties.
  • No one was beyond His help.
  • Everyone was welcome to watch what He did, over and over.
  • Most were done in broad daylight, and many at night.
  • Critics were unable to derail Him.
  • Everything He did was free.

Jesus wasn’t just performing a show to entertain the crowds. He was a principled teacher; all was based on truth. “All the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them” (2:13). His main concern was the salvation of people everywhere. “Let us go somewhere else…in order that I man preach there also; for that is what I came out for” (1:38). He was “moved with compassion” (1:41).

Jesus was not a popular showman and fraud. He was the divine Son of God, the truth itself. His miracles proved it. Let Mark convince you. “We have never seen anything like this” (2:12).

Listen to Him, and follow.

– Tim Johnson

The Daily Car Wash

I once knew a senior citizen who said he lived to have a clean car. Sure enough, he was up every morning and out the door to wash and wax it until it gleamed. That car would sparkle even on cloudy days. How silly, we say. Yet if there was anything positive about it, we could say it gave a senior motivation to get moving every day. But surely we can think of something greater than the vanity of a nice-looking car. Nothing injects life with more energy than when we have a purpose that is bigger than we are; an overall reason to live; a great goal that defines what we are trying to do in our all-too-short lives.

When we look into the New Testament we see the early church engaged in expansion, pushing the borders of the Kingdom into new places, smashing right through racial barriers, and dreaming to get into new areas. They endured prejudice, persecution, exhaustion, and stress. What drove them to take the gospel into the whole inhabited world in one generation (Col.1:23)?

The answer lies in the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. They realized that God Himself was behind this new enterprise of faith. Jesus gave his earliest followers their marching orders, recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mk.16:15-16). Obeying this purpose produced the greatest strides in evangelism that the world has ever seen.

How about us today? Is our purpose simply to make as much money as possible? Should your ultimate future achievement be ownership of a great big house in a nice neighbourhood? Is your goal just to travel and enjoy warm weather somewhere? If we’re just trying to please ourselves, we’re not much different than that man who had to do the daily car wash. When we live for great things Jesus gave us, life gains a driving force that moves us to take on exciting challenges and satisfying works for others.

Are you serving the Master, or just washing the car?

– Tim Johnson