The Crowd

Key Text: Mark 4:1-20

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Though we recently looked at this passage, I return to it today from a slightly different perspective.

Today I heard about a politician running for high office who held a political rally for supporters this week. I can imagine the scene: big bright banners, balloons everywhere, maybe a band blaring out music to stir up the crowd, security personnel in dark suits and even darker glasses scanning the crowd for potential threats or someone who wanted to get a little too close to the popular candidate.

The only problem with the crowd was…there wasn’t one.

Only ONE other person showed up for the rally. Talk about a disappointed candidate. How do you put a positive spin on THAT one?

Now contrast that scene with the one where Jesus was teaching by the lake and the crowd that gathered around him “was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it on the lake, while the people were along the shore at the water’s edge.”


The people there that day knew Jesus was

  • Different
  • Powerful
  • Loving
  • Compassionate
  • Challenging
  • Worth hearing

In fact, maybe, just maybe was the long awaited Messiah – the Savior – perhaps even the Son of God.

No wonder he spoke about those who had “ears to hear” and those who didn’t – and the difference it made in their lives.

Two thousand years later – the question remains.

Do we have “ears to ear” so that we can listen to what Jesus says and apply it accordingly?

Or are we following some other, lesser authority – maybe even a politician who can’t draw a crowd to save his life – or for matter – anyone’s.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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