Don’t get crowded out

29 Jul

Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873) was a pioneer medical missionary and explorer in Africa in the 19th Century. He was known for his steely determination in the face of suffering. Three famous quotes reveal that attitude:

“Cannot the love of Christ carry the missionary where the slave-trade carries the trader? I shall open up a path to the interior or perish.”

“I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward.”

In response to a question asking if there was a good road so that his organization in England could send people to help him, Livingstone replied, “If you have men who will come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”

That sense of persistence and perseverance is seen in the distinction between the crowds who came to listen to Jesus and the disciples who followed Jesus.

In the gospel of Mark, crowds form audiences for Jesus’ teaching and are the object of his compassion. However, they do not turn to Jesus in repentance and belief, as the gospel requires (1:15). In contrast, disciples do whatever it takes to follow Jesus. They do not let obstacles get in the way or prevent them from bringing people to Jesus.

The following chart, based on a study of Mark 2:1-12, illustrates the difference between the crowds who listened to Jesus and the disciples who followed him.



Stand/Sit – There was standing room only in Capernaum (2). The religious leaders were seated in the front row (6).

Follow – Disciples don’t have time to sit. They are too busy bringing needy people to Jesus (3).

Listen – The crowds were content to listen to Jesus preach (2).

Act – Disciples are active, living out Jesus’ instructions to be “fishers of men” (1:17).

Passive – The crowds see an obstacle and stop there (2).

Persistent – Disciples don’t let a crowd keep them from achieving their goal (4).

Doubt – The crowds question and challenge Jesus’ teaching and identity (6-7).

Believe – Disciples believe that Jesus can meet them at their point of need, and they live out their faith (5).

Block access – The single biggest thing crowds do is keep people from Jesus (4).

Bring people – Disciples go the extra mile to bring people to Jesus (4).

Hinder ministry – Ultimately, the crowds get in the way and stop ministry from happening.

Promote ministry – Disciples will do anything to make ministry happen, even if it means making a mess and tearing up the roof (4).



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Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Bible Study, Scripture


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