As we prepare to gather for our holiday parties, dinners, traditions and everything else that comes with the last two months of the year, I was drawn to something that I have never thought about before.
What would I actually do for a Klondike bar?
Ok. You’re right. That wasn’t it. To be honest, I wouldn’t do much. They are not my favorite.
Anyways, I was actually just thinking about all we have learned in the New Testament this year.
The miracles. The parables. The apostles. All of it. I love it. What a neat experience it has been to study it, and more importantly, to try and live it.
Have you noticed though that most of our discussions are centered around individuals? That’s a good thing. Each of us needs a personal relationship with God and each of us has our own right to choose.
But in light of all the gathering that is about to take place, I wondered what we learn about a group of people. A collective. A crowd.
Christ had more than one experience with different kinds of crowds. And I think each one offers a unique insight into our collective discipleship.
Take a look at these 7 crowds that we often become on our gospel path.
1. The Skeptical Crowd
Let’s start off with an obvious principle.
Imagine being in the synagogue when Jesus declares that He is the Christ, the Savior promised to the world. Imagine the feeling, the atmosphere, the love and light in the room. What a declaration. What a sacred experience.
“Nope. That can’t be true. You are just Joseph’s son. You aren’t the savior we’re looking for.”
Just one response (or maybe a few) responses had the power to destroy the faith of an entire congregation.
Related: When Doubts and Questions Arise
What does this look like today?
Well, it’s most often found in the simple things that make a difference.
“No, I’m not going to priesthood. It’s a waste of time and all I need is the sacrament.” “Perhaps if I wait to pay tithing until next month, then things will work out a little better.” “They don’t need to have ministering. They are doing awesome! I’ll check in later, if they need me.”
Sound familiar? These little things may seem to not matter that much. Maybe they don’t.
But then again, Jesus was just Joseph and Mary’s son . . .
Don’t let the Savior pass you by because you followed the skeptical crowd. Regardless of how “unrealistic” the Gospel may seem.
2. The Curious Crowd
I have one slight confession. I am biased. This is my favorite crowd.
Not necessarily because I think that they are the best (in terms of spirituality), but I relate so well to them.
Once when Christ and His disciples left in a ship on the sea, Mark recounts that “the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him” (Mark 6:33).
Did they know where He was going? Nope. Did they know what they wanted? Nope. Did they make any preparations to be away from home in some other place? Nope. They just followed Him in hopes of finding something they knew they needed.
And the most amazing part to me is that many of them, BUT NOT ALL OF THEM, knew who Christ was. They knew what He could do. But because others went to Him, their neighbors did as well.
Sometimes, we just have to go. Even when we don’t know what’s going to happen. Even if we haven’t made preparations.
And when we do . . . we’ll be fed. Just like this crowd.
We’ll be fed the Bread of Life and the Everlasting Water.
3. The Excited Crowd
Have you ever been to a playoff game? Or an amazing concert? Or a super packed wedding?
There’s nothing quite like cheering to evoke emotion.
Personally, I am so invested in the Utah Jazz, that I go through all of the possible emotions in a single game. I can’t help it.
Still, despite all the things that any of us have ever experienced, I can’t imagine anything quite as amazing as watching Christ ride in on a colt into Jerusalem for Passover.
I can almost hear the cheers, cries, and joy. Even in a city where most opposed Him, the crowd cheered and welcomed the Savior of the world. Shouting “this is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:11).
When we are surrounded by those who hate Him, when others ask . . . how excited are we? Do we have the passion and the excitement that our Savior deserves? Do we honor Him and show Him how much we love Him despite where we are?
The Gospel shouldn’t be something we “have to do.” It’s a gift. The greatest blessing that gives us every reason to shout for joy.
Then when others ask why we live the way we do, when our friends for family mock us for our choices, or even in times where we feel alone . . . we will always “keep saying” that “this is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.”
4. The Temporal Crowd
I hope you’re not confused by this heading. It does not imply a crowd that is only around for a very short period of time. Although, I’m sure we could find stories about those.
This is about the desires of the crowd.
I find this crowd the most interesting of all. Not because they are a good example, they are rather far from that, but they just don’t understand. At all.
Immediately following the second miracle of Christ feeding a big multitude of people (5,000 men this time, plus women and children) John gives us an interaction between Christ and a different crowd that kinda leaves me dumbfounded.
Let me put it into modern words.
Christ: You only follow me because you want more bread. You’re hungry, aren’t you? I’m telling you, eating bread isn’t going to help you in the long run. Pay attention to the better things that I am offering you from heaven.
Crowd: Ok. I guess we believe you. What should we do so that we get those things?
Christ: Believe in me. Believe that I was sent of the Father and that the messages I share will lead you to heaven.
Crowd: Hmmmm . . . I don’t know. What kinds of signs are you going to give us? I mean sure you already fed a multitude TWICE out of just a few loaves and fishes. But is that really enough? The great prophet Moses gave us some bread from heaven. Why don’t you just give us some of that, so that we can eat?
And then, one of my favorite lines of all time further on in the interaction . . .
Christ: Yeah. They did eat that bread. But they’re dead. What I’m offering you is the Bread of Life, which if you will eat, you will never die.
That has got to be one of the most epic mic drops in scripture history.
Sometimes as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ, we just don’t get it. We are so focused on needs outside of what is most important that we won’t understand what is right in front of us.
The purpose of the Gospel is two-fold. First, we are able to live again because of Christ’s Resurrection. Second, we can be made clean and perfect because of Christ’s sacrifice.
Everything else is a manifestation of His love and mercy, to be given to us at the moment He knows is best.
5. The Unaware Crowd
Ok. I’m going to need you to sit down for this one.
What am I saying? You’re reading an article, you’re probably already sitting down. Good.
You see, this one is the hardest, but potentially most damaging kind of crowd.
The hard part about this is that it usually happens in moments of sincerity. We do our best to follow the Savior, but ofttimes we forget to look around us to see what is happening. The good news is that the first step to overcoming it is just being aware. So keep reading, and you’ll already be mostly there.
Remember the story of the woman who touched the Savior’s clothes? Remarkable faith in a remarkable story.
I don’t want to talk about her though. I want to talk about the crowd around her.
In this account, the authors of the gospels paint a picture of how this took place. Christ was being “thronged.” He was surrounded by followers and people who were sincere in their efforts to be with Him.
But they didn’t stop to notice who was most in need of help.
The crowd made it more difficult for the woman, who had been suffering for 12 years, to reach the ultimate Healer. She was ashamed and scared because of the disease she had. But there was no clear path. The Savior was surrounded by others who perhaps didn’t even notice she was there.
Luckily she pressed forward and had the faith to find Christ. Still, I wonder how many miss their opportunities because others are in their way. Do we ever find ourselves standing in between the Savior, and those who most need His healing and comfort?
Sometimes we try to fix others’ problems because we love them, but by so doing, we deny them their own experience with Jesus.
Sometimes we forget to look around and realize that there is a much higher need in church, rather than just show up and fulfill our callings.
One of the most obvious to me is in the way we “deal with” pornography. Our sincere effort to warn others about its consequences do more damage than good.
Judgment. Selfishness. Pride. All, and much more, are symptoms that we may part of this crowd. Luckily, the remedy is simple.
While you are doing all you can to be with Christ, make sure to keep an eye out for those that are in need of His help as well. Don’t hold your beliefs over their heads. Don’t flaunt your faith. Don’t forget that others need your time and attention.
Create the path that leads others to Christ. Don’t block it.
One heart and one mind
Our path to the Savior is an individual journey. We each need to make our own choice to make covenants with God and follow His Son to Eternal Life.
As more of us follow Him, our potential as a unified group is immeasurable. We can become one with Him. We can become consecrated disciples.
Of one heart and one mind. Zion.
That’s the goal.
Zion doesn’t come in a specific place. It comes with a specific crowd.
A crowd that is characterized by faith, hope, excitement, eternal perspectivity and awareness.
With Christ all things are possible. So let’s be sure to follow Him as a group that builds each other up and never ceases to tell the world that Jesus is the very Son of God, the Savior, and Redeemer of the world.