Proximity. We are horrible at it. All a stranger has to do to make me think “stranger danger” is to get too close to me in public. If they smile at me, too, I am calling the police.
Mark is a study on crowd control. Everywhere Jesus goes it is like a fast furious rush of people getting as close as they can. He can’t leave His house or eat peacefully. People are being dropped through the ceiling. He was trying to run around in secret and crowds were always gathering around Him.
Matthew tells us that crowds were so thick that he had to go out to sea in order to talk to them without getting crushed. That is how he came across Peter in Luke. The gospels tell us that it was only in prayer, at night, that Jesus had solitude. Have you ever tried to pray when you were tired? Wow.
Luke 5:1 has a wonderful bit of imagery, “Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God”. The crowd was pressing in on Him. Now, that is not unusual because there were always people pressing in on Him; but the why is pretty impressive.
Because I do not have people “pressing into me” to hear the word of God, I cannot imagine what this is like. Generally, I am chasing people to tell them about Jesus. It is so available to us that we can take it or leave it.
Most of us struggle to find the desire to press into the word of God. I used to have it press into me when I was doing my quiet times at night. I would fall asleep and wake up when the bible hit my face. What a different scene that is! And there was not just one, but a whole crowd of people pressing Him. That is a lot of pressing.
This is such a beautiful image and I have no doubt that there was just something to Jesus. There was something that you could not look away from. You had to hear His next word. It was like breathing in. I want that for my quiet times. I want to press into Him to hear the next word that He has for me. I want to wait expectantly that He will show up and satisfy my desire for His word.
Sometimes, I wish that I could have been one of these people who were in His physical presence. My model of expectancy is “the woman healed”. Luke 8:42b-48, “As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. 43 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45 Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” 47 When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
Again, the crowds press, but that is normal. The difference is this faith-filled woman, expectantly, touching the fringe of his clothes. I don’t know what Jesus felt when He said that power had left Him. But out of all of those touching Him, He recognized the faith of this woman. That is what I desire in the picture of my time with Him. I want to run up to Him, pressing in and before He can even turn around He will know that someone who loves Him, TJ, just grabbed hold.
That is so beautiful and I have such a long way to go, some days more than others. Let’s solicit a response from Jesus today by pressing into His word.
Father, thank you for your gentleness as you recognize our imperfections, but know our heart, that we try to steal time with You because we love You. Draw us close as we press in. Turn us into faith-filled women.