And great multitudes followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and beyond the Jordan.
Something that I noticed about this verse as I read over it this morning is that it said multitudes followed Him. It does not say that multitudes became His disciples or that multitudes lived out His preaching and teaching, but that multitudes followed Him.
In the modern era, we have social media, which is neither truly social nor truly media, and the ability for people to follow us. We can follow people on Twitter and Instragram and “friend” them on Facebook and so on.
This is not so different from what was going on with Jesus and these multitudes. Many people were following Him — watching what He did and maybe commenting on it, but not really taking any sort of concrete action; never forming a relationship with Him. The disciples, by contrast, were in the beginning stages of forming their relationship with Jesus. Sometimes, we follow businesses on social media in order to get something — discounts, contests, what-have-you — and we parallel what this crowd did with Jesus. He was curing illness — mental and physical — and doing some majorly Good Things. And that is why some of the people in the crowd were there: to get something or to say they knew Him when or to witness the miraculous.
Where am I this morning? Am I walking in the shoes of the disciples — working on a relationship with Jesus, at whatever stage it may be — or am I with the crowd — just following in order to get something or see something? The answer is about eternity. Relationship is what He requires for me to enter into His rest. I never knew you is arguably the most heartbreaking phrase ever to fall from the lips of Christ in scripture. It certainly will be when it is uttered at the judgment seat. Am I a follower or a disciple? Have I “friended” Jesus or am I His friend?