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

In the Hospital Food Court

From time to time I have to wait in the hospital food court. It is a place where a full range of human conditions can be seen. Boisterous nurses crowd around a table, indifferent officials punch away on their phones, patients in gowns seek some space away from their rooms, anxious families huddle in corners, and worried people sit alone with coffee. Other than a few noisy conversations, it’s a sombre place full of difficult needs.

Jesus often walked into places like that. In John 5 He entered an area around a pool protected from the weather by roofed-over columns. “In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered.” (v3) While He only healed one man, word spread quickly that the Master of healing was at hand. Mobs of needy cases soon sought Him out, and He gladly made them well. Mark records, “ …for He had healed many with the result was that all those who had afflictions pressed about Him in order to touch Him.” (Mk.3:10)

Jesus brought to Palestine a marvelous sense of hope. People came from everywhere to find His help and hear His words. Sadly, it only lasted a few years before He went back to heaven. His miraculous abilities didn’t have to continue for long, for the message was complete: Here is One who always stands by to help us. The Hebrew writer said, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (2:18) And, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” (4:16)

Jesus may not heal a man from disease or injury now, but He arranges mercy and grace to help us with anything that weighs life down. Even in a hospital food court.

– Tim Johnson