Popular Jesus.

Matthew seems to describe Jesus as “popular.” That is, He has a lot of people following Him around. In Matthew 4:25, Matthew wrote, “And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.” Jesus seemed to have quite a following.

I wonder what attracted most of these people to Jesus. Was it His unique preaching and teaching? Was it His miracles? In this passage, Matthew doesn’t come out and say it, but he seems to imply that the crowd has gathered due to Jesus’ healing ministry. Nothing draws a crowd like sick, paralyzed, and demon-possessed people being healed, it seems.

As I read this passage, my mind rushed forward to the cross. Where were these people on that tragic yet victorious day? Were they yelling “crucify Him?” Were they hiding, like the disciples? Were they at the cross, like the women? It is hard to say. But I can say this with confidence: many of the people comprising this crowd did not continue to follow Jesus long-term. They may have initially been excited but quickly drifted away, or they may have lasted a little while longer but eventually run out of gas. Either way, they did not stick with it.

Sadly, the same thing seems to be true today. Many people make a decision to follow Jesus, but it doesn’t last. Or, they make a commitment that lasts a little while, but they eventually burn out. Genuine believers, however, will not turn back from following Jesus. Instead, they will follow Him because He endured the cross, rose from the dead, and sent His Holy Spirit to indwell and empower them. Their continued faithfulness is not based on their own strength or power, but on the One who redeemed them. So take confidence in this, Christian: “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Continue pursuing Jesus, and remember that He is faithful to finish what He started!

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