Vincent Van Gogh sold one painting during his lifetime. Johann Sebastian Bach was mostly known for playing the organ during his lifetime, not for any of his compositions. And if you asked any adult in North America to sing a song about their bologna, they would probably burst out with “My bologna has first name…” Popularity is a fickle mistress.
Because we usually come to the story of Jesus with some pre-conceptions, it can be helpful to read the Gospels from a fresh angle. Here’s one: Sit down with Matthew and pay attention to the crowds. When are there few people following Jesus? When are there many? What seems to precipitate His popularity or lack there of?
The final episode recorded by Matthew in chapter 20 comes right as Jesus’ popularity reaches its zenith at the Triumphal Entry. So even as Jesus and His disciples depart Jericho for the uphill march to Jerusalem the text says:
“a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside…”
Matthew 20: 29&30
The crowd makes it easy to get lost as an individual. Particularly if you are blind. This isn’t “America’s Got Talent”; there are no co-hosts standing just off-stage with encouraging words and microphones. These guys are stuck on the fringe and no one cares.
No one except Jesus. Jesus is not a rock star. He is not “in the zone” to the exclusion of the pain and suffering of others. Instead, He quells the crowds’ concern for propriety and focuses on these two blind men. The fate of mankind is going to be settled in less than 5 days but He still has time for these guys. And they are healed.
Yes, the government is on His shoulders. Yes, He reigns on David’s throne and over his kingdom. But all these macro responsibilities do not blind Him to the plight of individuals. Jesus has time for them and cares for them. It is the parable of the Good Samaritan lived out.
As that truth sits with me I am comforted. Though my problems and pain may seem petty even to me, Jesus will carry it all. And I am challenged, for I seek to walk in His steps. Seeking both for justice and righteousness to reign over all the earth, but also seeking to serve the person God puts in my path today.
Lord, keep me awake to your great love.