When I read through the Gospels, I’m amazed to see how Jesus took time for individuals in the midst of the crowds. In Matthew 8, right after the Sermon on the Mount, great multitudes were following Jesus. He was in the height of His popularity! Imagine the fame and glory brought by the throngs of adoring fans who wanted just a glimpse of this remarkable Teacher and Miracle Worker. After healing Peter’s mother-in-law, “many who were oppressed by demons” were brought to Jesus, and he “healed all who were sick” (v. 16). Two verses later “Jesus saw a crowd around him” (v. 18). And the very last verse in Matthew 8 tells us “all the city came out to meet Jesus” (v. 34).
What would you do with all that notoriety? If you were Jesus, wouldn’t it make sense to capitalize on that popularity and turn it into an even broader evangelistic campaign that could sweep the region, the country, and even the world? If you have that type of following, don’t waste it on individuals! You’re too big, too important, and too much in demand to limit your scope to a single person when you can change the entire world.
What did Jesus do? Just the opposite. When He saw the crowds, He focused on individuals within the crowds. In the midst of the masses, a leper came to Jesus, knelt before Him, and asked, “`Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, `I will; be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (vv. 2-3).
When He entered Capernaum, Jesus took time for a centurion and healed his servant who was lying paralyzed at the centurion’s home (vv. 6, 13). When He spoke to the multitudes, He was speaking to individuals. When He healed those brought to Him, He did so one person at a time.
Ministry may affect the masses but only insofar as it impacts individuals. Sometimes I think we forget that in church life. We want to reach dozens of people, even hundreds and thousands. We want to change our city and region. We want to reach the world. But we do so, just as Jesus did, one person at a time. This is not individualism; it is helping, serving, and loving people as individuals.
In the eyes of Jesus you are more than your demographic; you are a person. You, as an individual, were created in the image of God. God knew you personally before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16). God doesn’t define you by your group. Your identity is not crafted in your community. God formed YOU. He knit YOU together, and YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made.
You are a part of a family, community, small group, and, hopefully, church, and we do need one another. But when we are in our family, community or group, our identity is not absorbed in the pool of persons, and we cease to exist as individuals. That’s called Hinduism. Christianity teaches that our oneness is not singularity nor absorption. Our oneness in family, community, groups and church is based on the oneness of the Trinity: One God in three Persons.
If you ever feel like you get lost in the crowd, or that you’re unimportant, because you’re just one person in a church, school, or city, know that you, individually, are vitally important to God. Jesus died for you personally, not just the whole world. When He sees the crowd, He sees us as persons. And if we want to “reach the world,” we do so one person at a time.