In Mark’s account of the Good News we find this statement about Jesus:
9He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; 10for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.
One of the participants in our Bible study yesterday told a story about a friend who’d taken some homeless people into his home, and then been robbed by the people he’d helped.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people returned kindness for kindness? If the people we helped didn’t respond with indifference, or hostility, or even theft and violence? But the world doesn’t work that way. And it didn’t work that way for Jesus.
We’d like think that people Jesus healed would repay him with gratitude and kindness, but instead we find — long before his crucifixion — their selfish desire for more blessing made them indifferent to the danger of crushing the very one saving them.
I see two lessons in this passage. First, we should ask whether we are sometimes like the crowd. Do we focus on the ways Jesus can bless us so much that it gets in the way of, and even endangers, what Jesus is trying to do for people around us? That’s something we should think about.
Second, when we do good deeds, we should be aware, as Jesus was, of the dangers that might accompany them. Note that Jesus doesn’t simply allow the crowd to crush him: he instructs his disciples to be ready to help him escape. But notice also that he doesn’t stop healing people. We don’t have to be peoples’ meal tickets or punching bags, but their ingratitude or hostility doesn’t mean we should stop trying to help.