When Jesus and his disciples had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognised him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Today's reading stands in strong contrast to tomorrow’s. Today Jesus is among his own people, the Galileans; they recognise him and flock to him; he experiences popularity. But tomorrow a delegation from Jerusalem, the Judaean capital, will arrive, and from there the hostility of the religious leaders will begin. It will lead to his death.
A preacher known to me was boasting after he got a standing ovation for one of his sermons. It went to his head, I'm afraid. But a mutual friend helped him back to reality. He said, “There’s something odd here, isn’t there? Jesus preached and they crucified him; you preached and they gave you a standing ovation!”
Popularity is a fickle goddess: the crowd that cheered “Hosanna!” for Jesus was screaming “Crucify him!” a few days later. Jesus experienced both reactions; the rest of us, with few exceptions, would settle for just Hosanna! Popularity looks like glory, and it is a kind of glory: someone called it “glory’s small change.” There is the personality type described as ‘the pleaser’. Such a person will never challenge you; they rely too much on your good opinion of them. But it backfires; most people would prefer that you said what you thought. “He more had pleased us had he pleased us less.”
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