Christ versus Popularity

We read in John's Gospel that after Jesus had fed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes he "perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king;" also, according to Mark and Matthew, who record the same incident, he went on a mountain to pray after constraining his disciples to get into the ship and go to the other side "while he sent the multitudes away."

He who in the wilderness dispelled the vision of the kingdoms of the world with the words, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," found himself again in the presence of the tempter, this time disguised as enthusiasm of the multitudes who thronged Jesus with their urgent claim on his personality. Jesus promptly directed his disciples to leave him "while he sent the multitudes away." No doubt he knew that his disciples were apt to be influenced by the mental contagion of the crowd.

Then "he departed again into a mountain himself alone," and there he must have risen in consciousness to a spiritual altitude where he was above and beyond the material sense of the crowd, above vanity, selfishness, and self-seeking pride. And was it not this elevated understanding which enabled him later, at night, to walk on the agitated sea? The disciples apparently did not recognize him when he drew "nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid."

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June 11, 1932

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