How Jesus Treated Crowds

The Bible seems to list over and over again that Jesus was filled with compassion for people and that this compassion moved him to do his ministry (Mt 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; Lk 7:13). Out of that compassion he healed, comforted, fed, and taught people. He didn’t have to do these things—it’s clear he was exhausted from ministry. I mean, he nearly slept straight through a storm while on a boat that was being swamped by waves that were so strong, that even the disciples who used to spend their lives on boats as fisherman were scared that they were all going to die (Mt 8:23-27)! How tired do you have to be?

But time and time again, rather than be annoyed by people, Jesus had compassion on them and kindly ministered to them. People crowded him so much that at one point he healed a person by proxy and didn’t even know who it was. We’re told that, “Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mk 5:30-31).

If you ever find one day that God has strongly anointed you for healing, brace yourself—you’re probably going to be crowded by sick people who want to touch you all the time. They might even go so far as to cut a hole in your roof just to get close enough to ask you to heal them (Mk 2:4)! Even when Jesus didn’t have people crowding him, he could see the crowd building ahead of him. As we already saw in chapter 3, Jesus got on a boat to get away from people, but a large crowd followed him on foot along the shoreline (Mt 14:13). Somehow, Jesus has compassion on this crowd and fed and healed them—even though the very reason he got on a boat in the first place was to be away from people and grieve John the Baptist’s death (Mt 14:12-13). Jesus even had compassion on another crowd of people after he had spent three whole days with them (Mt 15:32)!

English and French Monarch’s practiced Jesus’ example back in their day and prayed for every individual that showed up for their healing services. According to Francis MacNutt, “Each healing service took the better part of two or three entire days. King Louis XIV of France prayed for 3,000 people on Pentecost Sunday 1698. In England Charles II prayed for 23,000 people in a four year span and for some 100,000 in his 25 year reign.”

This kind of ministry is not easy as it often requires you to be a slave to fame. I’ve vaguely sensed how fame can make you bitter in some of the radio interviews I’ve done. Many of the famous Christian artists who I’ve had to interview called in late or sometimes not at all. Eventually I stopped enjoying these moments. There were some artists who were full of kindness and joy, but other artists made me feel like I was just work for them (which, to be fair, I was). 

Being famous sucks. Dealing with crowds like this for the rest of your life is hard. Learning to treat people well in those kind of circumstances are difficult. But we need to learn to be kind to whatever group we’re dealing with, regardless of how big or small it is, so that like Jesus, we always minister with compassion and kindness.

Crowds want to experience the kindness of people like Jon Foreman from  the band Switchfoot, who grabbed an acoustic guitar and went outside just to hang out and sing songs with a small crowd in Tampa. You can imagine just how treasured this crowd felt as he spent time with them. Further more, you can imagine how important they felt when a cop tried to remove him from the premises (for reasons I still don’t fully understand) just to have Jon try to convince him to let him stay and play more music.

That’s the kind of kindness we see in Jesus. He spent his time among the untouchables, touching and healing lepers who were supposed to keep their distance and remind everyone around them that they were unclean. He was able to look into the eyes of prostitutes without a glimmer of lust in his eyes, talking to them as people, not as sex objects. He healed people even when they didn’t show him any gratitude for it (Lk 17:17-18). Even though he himself had never sinned (1 Pe 2:22), he protected sinners (Jn 8:1-11).

Kindness is written all over Jesus’ life. You’ll find it in the least expected places, given to the least expected people, showing us that we too are expected to be kind. 

MacNutt, Francis. Healing Reawakening. Grand Rapids, MI, Chosen Books, 2005, p. 135.

Jon Foreman Forcefully Removed by Tampa Cop. 15 Aug. 2010, Accessed 24 May 2017.

This is an excerpt from my book, A Taste of Jesus.

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