“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” (Luke 7:13)
Crowds cramp our style, forcing us into sardine-like cans where we feel squashed and a touch harassed at times. Noisy crowds swell and spill, overflowing the banks of our lives as we travel about or stay put near home. Sometimes they just simply annoy.
Christ never focused on just the crowd, and the crowd never seemed to annoy him either. In his compassionate way, as he was surrounded and interrupted, jostled and crushed, he zeroed in on the individual and interacted intentionally with him or her. The gospels record his particular encounters with men, women and children. Each one was undeniably more than a face in the crowd.
We catch him chatting away with Zacchaeus, perched in a tree while the crowds swarmed on the ground. We watch him make his way to Jairus’ home to speak life back into this leader’s little girl, and see him pause to strike up a conversation with the woman in the crowd who had been battling a crippling disease. He stopped in his tracks, spoke kindly to her, and affirmed the faith of this one woman in a sea of people pressing against his frame and demanding his attention.
As the crowds swirled around him on his way to Nain, he noticed another woman, the widow who had lost her only son (Luke 7:12). She too was encircled by a “considerable crowd” of mourners. But he saw her. Distinctly. Jesus felt her agony, moved toward her, and touched the young man’s bier with the life-giving power in his hands. Death simply moved out of Jesus’ way, and the dead man sat up in response.
Jesus sees you, too, right there in the middle of your perplexing places or dreary circumstances. Our Lord is incredibly aware of who you are and what you are up against. You are not just one troubled character among many. No, in some inexplicable way, he sees you precisely where you are and moves toward you in the same way he did so long ago.
Christ desires for us to look around carefully as well, to discern that one face among many, to be aware that hurting people populate our world and are far more than just someone to ignore as we go about our important business. Our Lord wants us to have eyes that see beyond the obvious and a heart that is wide open to respond.
Jesus prioritized people; he calls us to follow his example. A crowd is simply a group of people whom he dearly loves. He just might be using you and me to get his message of hope and love through to those making up that crowd.
Elizabeth A Mitchell