Jesus Skips Out on the Crowd

This week’s lifegroup discussion questions tie both to our recent Year of the Bible reading, as well as this past Sunday morning message.  I hope that’s okay with you.

This week we are continuing in the book of Acts. If you haven’t seen the explainer videos for this incredible book, here they are.

 

Even though we have moved forward, I wanted to go back and cover an important principle that I struggle with.

The Story from Sunday

On Sunday morning, we explored how we can only begin to receive the abundant life that Jesus promised if we first receive the healing he intends to give us. We looked at this very short story of Jesus healing the leper in a city in Galilee:

Luke 5:12–13 ESV
While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

We talked about that keyword, “immediately.” The leprosy left him immediately.

During the message, I questioned why this doesn’t happen to us… Why we will tend to hang on to that old leprosy in our life that Jesus came to kill off.  I asked if we loved the disease more than the cure. How did that strike you?  Why do you think we hang on to that stuff?

We also noted how the leper “fell on his face” before Jesus, before knowing how Jesus would respond to him. He didn’t hold his worship hostage to his circumstances.  He praised before he had anything to be thankful for.

Let’s contrast praise and thanksgiving.  What is the difference, and when is each of these appropriate?

I have a friend who is always wanting something from me.  He has nothing good to say, and is always making some kind of demand of me.  Everytime I see him, he wants something. When I see him coming, I try to duck out of his way, hoping he doesn’t see me, or can’t catch up with me.

I’m sure you have people like this, also.  How does this person make you feel?  How do you respond to them?

Is it possible that we are this person to God?  Are our prayers sort of like showing up at God’s doorstep with a trashbag full of garbage that we just dump at his feet before leaving?Are we good at praising God for who he is?

Are we good at praising God for who he is?

Are we good at thanking Him for what he does?

What can we praise God for right now?

What can we thank God for right now?

 

The rest of the story

So, we really only read the first part of this leper story on Sunday… After Jesus healed the man of his leprosy, look what happened next!

Luke 5:14-16 ESV
And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

In a move that seems a little strange to us today, Jesus tells the former leper to “tell no one,” but to make an offering with the priest, following the proper procedure from Leviticus 14.

Of course, this incredible miracle attracts the attention of the city crowd, and people start to gather around Jesus once again.

But then, in what may be an even stranger move, Jesus… Leaves. People and ministry needs all around him, but he withdraws to desolate places. Does this sound like Jesus? How would you have felt about Jesus if you had traveled for miles with your sick mom, only to find that Jesus had ducked out?

How would you feel if your neighbor’s mom was healed, but your’s wasn’t?

Is this right?

We tend to forget that Jesus actually did this often.  He would escape from the crowds…

  • When crowds gathered around him (Mark 2:23)
  • After extended, challenging times of ministry (Mark 6:31-32, Luke 6:12-13)
  • When grieving (Matthew 14:13)
  • Before a big challenge (Mark 14:32, John 7:10)
  • Just for peace and quiet (Mark 7:24)
  • To spend time alone with God (Mark 1:45, 3:13, Luke 5:15-16, 6:12-13, 22:39)

This can only mean that some people and their needs were left out. Not everyone was touched by Jesus.

As hard as this might be to think about, we have to remember that while Jesus was 100% God, he was also 100% human.  In wrapping himself in flesh for us, he chose to live within certain limitations. He chose restrict himself in obedience to his Father.

What this means is that while on earth, Jesus doesn’t do everything he can do… He only does everything he is supposed to do.

Look at this great example of Jesus leaving an eager crowd, gathered to be touched by him.

Mark 1:35-39 NLT
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.

Jesus could have stayed and healed more people in Capernaum, where the crowd had gathered, but after spending time with God, he was led to do something different, to travel to other towns and preach the Good News… Leaving the crowd and all their needs behind in Capernaum.

For Jesus, obedience was more important than accomplishment.

Even though healing more people in Capernaum would have certainly been a good thing, God had a different plan for Jesus.  A plan that he could only fulfill by choosing to say “no” to a really good ministry opportunity.

In other words, Jesus was able to say “no” to good things, in order to say “yes” to the most important things.

I still need to learn this principle. For most of us, we tend to busy our lives with things we can do, but before we know it, we have become so busy doing good that we have no time for what is best… For the things that God has really called us to.

How does this principle apply to us?  What are the things I get caught up in that are good, and what are things I miss out on that might be best?

How can I learn from Jesus how to change this dynamic in my life? (hint: re-examine his process in Mark 1:35-39, above)

 

Leading Change like this

At church, we have learned (somewhat) to say “no” to a lot of things that are really good.  You may have noticed that we don’t have a lot of “activities” that a church our size typically has. That is because we want to say “yes” to God’s call on our lives to making the Gospel relevant to our community.  We are positive that He has called us to this.

One of the absolute best ways we do that is at our yearly Downtown Halloween Outreach. This event is one of our best opportunities to directly influence many, many families in Gilmer County for the Good News in their lives.

Has your group talked about how you might be involved this year?  Dianne Fowler, our KidZone director is putting out the call for us to help. Have a look at the form at the link below, and discuss with your group how you’ve been involved in the past, and how you and your group might get involved together this year.

Don’t forget the CANDY DRIVE going on right now, also!  Candy Drive (now) > Halloween Outreach (Oct 31) > Family Day (Nov 5)!

Put Me In!

As you close, pray about our big fall drive towards a “yes” to what God has called us to.

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