By Brock Bondurant
Luke 11:29-32 – When the Crowds Were Increasing…
Back to meditating through Luke, I came upon this passage. Kind of a weird one, at least it’s certainly one that I haven’t heard much about; Jesus referencing Jonah, Solomon, and a queen who will one day condemn this generation? I’m sure there’s a lot there that I’ve not yet intellectually ascended to understand. It’s worth noting that Jesus is making himself out to be more than a king and more than a prophet, but I admit there’s far more going on here that would mean something more to these people than it does to me – something that might be offensive to their ears. I do however, see something in just the first few words of this interaction that I’ve seen oft repeated of Jesus.
It says, “When the crowds were increasing…” and then Jesus proceeds to share a hard truth. The biblical authors make a clear distinction between “the crowds” and the disciples. Disciples are those who follow Him and the crowds are those who gather around for a performance. And Jesus seems to be very uninterested in growing a fan club. It makes me think of the time that Jesus notices he’s gaining a big crowd around and then he shouts, “If you want to follow me, eat my flesh and drink my blood!” (John 6:53 paraphrase). Yeah, that would be a tough one. ‘Jesus, we like when you did that cool party trick with the wine and fed all of us, but not big on cannibalism. I’m out’
But that brings us to the point: Jesus wasn’t looking for fans. He didn’t say, ‘Hey Simon, I’d love you to join my fan club.’ (He also wasn’t promoting cannibalism for that matter, just so we’re clear.) No, Jesus simply said, “Follow me.” That’s it. Not ‘memorize all of Scripture, then I’ll take applications.’ Not even ‘come to understand everything that I say to you, and then we’ll see if you’re a good fit.’
No. Two words: Follow me. The first step to the ‘good life’ with Jesus is saying ‘yes’ to the journey.
Jesus makes himself to be much more than a king, much more than a prophet. Certainly, He is both of those, not to mention Him being Lord of Heaven and Earth. But He’s also a Rabbi, a teacher, looking for students, apprentices – disciples. But He doesn’t just give us a map for the journey, He is a companion along the Way.
If there’s an application here, it’s to ask, ‘Am I a follower of Jesus? When He says ‘follow,’ do I respond with walking? Am I a disciple of Jesus? Or am I one in the crowd, here for a performance; here to loosely affiliate myself with Him for appearances, but nothing more?
Am I just a fan?’ Because when Jesus shares these hard truths, those here for a performance or a party trick will duck out. And agree right then and there with Him or not, true followers, will stick around even when the going gets tough. True disciples respond with “Where else would we go, Lord? Regardless of how hard it can be to follow or understand you, we still believe that you’re the One,” (John 6:68-69 paraphrase).
As someone who can routinely bounce back and forth between being a fan or a follower of Jesus, I say just trust him. Trust Him even when it doesn’t make sense, even when the world thinks you’re an idiot. Because I’d hate to miss out on the abundant life Jesus has on offer through his radical way of living to just fit in with the crowd. Jesus desires followers, not fans. And He’d really like you and I to be one of them.