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Jan 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Forty-one – Matthew 13:1-9

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. Matthew 13:1-2

Where could Jesus potentially go and what could he be doing at this stage of his ministry? He could be strategizing with disciples, hosting conferences for Pharisees, recruiting zealots, counseling married couples, designing programs, building a campus, fundraising for an institution, or any number of projects to promote himself and his ministry.

Jesus was “sitting by the sea.” A wonderful place to rest, pray, meditate, and contemplate the glory of God. People¬†came to him and, no doubt, brought their needs and expectations. But the Lord took control and did for them what he considered to be in their best interests. He had no doubt about who he was and what he was to do for them.

What do we assume about the churches and preachers that draw crowds? Are crowds a guage to measure success? Does the crowded building mean the church is doing something right–in marketing itself, putting on a good show, providing and organizing services to people, and so on? Or does it mean that the church has a great preacher or that its staff does a good job of meeting the felt needs of the community?

If a crowd is not gathered, do we assume that something must be wrong with that church? Have we made judgments regarding churches and pastors that do not draw crowds. It is funny how crowds can affect our thinking about a church.

Crowds constantly formed around Jesus Christ. No wonder! He is the Son of God who teaches with authority and heals the sick. I, too, am among those in the crowd who are drawn to him, eager to be near him, to hear his voice, feel his touch, and learn the truth that he reveals.

What did Jesus do to draw a crowd? Nothing. In fact, he never did anything merely for the sake of drawing crowds and more often than not, crowds got in his way and hindered him. When he looked at the crowd, he did not see an army of devoted followers of God but a fragmented landscape that included a hardened footpath, rocky ground, weed infested soil, and a fertile field (vv. 3-23). Jesus knew the unreliability of the crowd (Jn. 2:23-25).

We thank You, O Lord, that we are never merely an “audience” to You or an anonymous face in a crowd. You know each of us by name. You do not treat us well if the crowd loves us or treat us poorly if the world hates us. You always take us as we are. Take us now, O Lord, as we are right now.

 

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