It is interesting to note the different crowds that gathered around JESUS from the beginning of his public life till his resurrection. Before the miracles are seen and reported, JESUS to the people of his day was just another regular Jewish Rabbi. It is fascinating to see the changing nature of the crowds as the savior progresses with His work
JOHN AND THE CHANGING CROWDS
1. CROWDS OF THE INITIAL MIRACLES
and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick.
Sings and wonders are part of the Gospel. The exhilarating experience of seeing nature bow to the commands of our GOD. Lives being transformed before one’s very eyes. The blind receiving their sight, the lame bones, muscles and ligaments straightened and leaping with joy. It must have been mind boggling for the locals to see people they’d written off as sickly and even dying suddenly get a new lease of life. The energy, the excitement, it must was contagious.
The miracles were a statement of love and a foretaste of great things to come. They prepared the crowds to hear and receive the Words of Life. Faith also responds to such stimuli. As long as this crowd would listen attentively, now that their attention had been caught by the acts of matchless Mercy, The future now held great promise. A different Rabbi had come. A new day had dawned.
1.1. THE BREAD CROWDS
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
1.2. THE VIVA CROWDS – THE GRANT CROWDS
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
The old English describes the word ‘king’ simply as one who ‘can’. Kings were expected to have ability to achieve many things. To lead their troops to victory in the time of war. To lead their subjects into seasons of prosperity. They were expected to possess the wisdom to decide over difficult cases brought to their attention by their people. They were like super humans it their people.
Israel was on the look out for such a leader. One who can! One who could drive out the Roman Empire and restore the fortunes of Israel. They were heavily taxed and their dignity under the foreign rule was trampled upon mercilessly. Their hopes were rising, This Rabbi was not only healing the sick but even bread was made galore, surely the economy of Israel was could once again see a revival of the Solomon proportions where supplies and money were as common as stones.
2 Chronicles 1:15
The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills.
Looking at the miracle of bread multiplied, surely one could be excused for fantasizing about a future of abundance under the rulership of this Rabbi once turned king. Why delay. After the miracle of the bread they wanted him as their Commander in chief. How convenient.
THEY FOLLOWED BECAUSE OF THEIR STOMACHS
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
What a rebuke for all the free lunch hopefuls! They were instructed on the power of priorities. To place in first place spiritual wellbeing over belly comforts and appetites.
Some got it others failed the test
2. THE DIVIDED CROWD
Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.”
2.1. THE SKEPTICAL CROWD – GREAT DOCTRINE BUT FROM WHO-KNOWS-WHERE
The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
Look at the assumptions! Was He not taught? They could hardly accept He had come from the Father but already they were making conclusions as to his knowledge base.
2.2. THE SWEARING CROWD – THEY TALK BACK AT THEIR KING
Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed.
2.3. THE POLITICALLY CORRECT CROWDS – THEY PLAY TO THE SWAY OF THE ANTI- JESUS AUTHORITIES
At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”
NB. THEY WERE KEEPING AWAY FROM PUBLIC AFFIRMATION OF THEIR FAITH IN JESUS, NOT BECAUSE THERE WAS ANY LACK IN THE TEACHINGS AND MIRACLES – THEY JUST PREFERRED TO BE ACCEPTABLE IN THE EYES OF THE ACCEPTABLE MAJORITY!
2.4. THE PROGRESS IN THE DIVISION
Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”
On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.
SEE AND APPRECIATE PROGRESS EVEN IN THE MIDST OF CHALLENGES.
EVEN THE TEMPLE GUARDS BELIEVED
Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted.
AUTHORITIES RESORTED TO MANIPULATION – A CURSE. . .
WHAT COULD A RELIGIOUS JEW FEAR MORE!
2.5. THE DEEPLY SELF DECEIVED CROWD
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
IN FACT THE REST OF THE CHAPTER REVOLVES AROUND JESUS SHOWING THEM THEIR TRUE COLORS. . . .
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
2.6. THE MOCKING CROWD
“Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
3. THE RESURRECTION CROWD – THE ULTIMATE BARRIER
3.1. THE CROWD THAT BENEFIT FROM HIS VOICE
I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
3.2. THE CROWD THAT WAS INTRIGUED BY THE LAZARUS PHENOMENON
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
3.3. THE BREAKTHROUGH CROWD – THEY WENT PUBLIC WITH THEIR PRAISE
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”
3.4. THE WITNESSING CROWD
Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.
Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.