In our day and age with social networking, we have come to be very familiar with the word, "followers." We constantly see in advertisements, "Follow us on twitter" or "Follow our blog." It’s a great way to get the news out to many. It’s a great way to advertise. On Facebook, followers are called "Friends." On LinkedIn, they are called "Connections." YouTube calls them "Subscribers." Fundamentally, all of these terms mean the same thing. They designate followers.
As we come to our time in the Word of God this morning, we see people following Jesus for all sorts of reasons. Some follow Jesus for good reasons. Some follow Him for bad reasons. It’s no different than with social media. People will follow another for personal reasons -- they know their friend on Facebook and they want to keep in touch. People will follow others for professional reasons -- they are in the media business and it’s their job to keep tabs on what’s happening in the world of entertainment. People will follow others for entertainment -- they like a particular music group, and so they keep up on what’s happening through social media.
When it comes to following Jesus, there are all sorts of reasons why people follow Jesus. This is the question that I’m going to put before the text this morning: "Why Do People Follow Jesus?"
As you know, the ministry of Jesus had its ups and downs. His ministry started out with a bang. Multitudes of people were following Jesus. On several occasions, entire villages were crowded at the doors of homes to see Jesus, who was inside (Mark 1:33; 2:2). The crowds were so big that "Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city" (Mark 1:45). So, He stayed in "unpopulated areas" to keep away from the crowds (Mark 1:45). And yet, this didn’t prevent people "coming to Him from everywhere" (Mark 1:45).
But, soon, the ministry of Jesus began to face some opposition. As the religious leaders of the day came to know about bit more about Jesus, they began to know that He claimed that He could forgive sins (2:8-11); they began to see that He would readily mix and mingle with the outcasts of society (2:14-17); they began to see that His religious practices were different than theirs. His practices were different especially as they related to fasting (2:18-22) and to keeping the Sabbath (2:23-3:5). Jesus claimed that He was bringing in a new morality (2:19-22). Jesus claimed that He was the Lord of the Sabbath (2:28).
Such things were too much for the Pharisees and the Herodians. They sought to kill Jesus. You see this in that monumental verse in the gospel of Mark -- chapter 3, verse 6. "The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him."
This verse really sets up the whole rest of the book. There is this constant tension between Jesus and the religious leaders. He is trying to lead people in godliness. They are trying to discredit Him and show the crowds that He is a sham.
The interchanges go back and forth. There are times when Jesus withdraws (3:7). There are other times when Jesus enters right into the temple and experiences great times of conflict with the religious establishment of the day. Eventually, as you know, their conflict ends in the death of Jesus. But, it doesn’t mean that the Pharisees and Herodians finally won! Because, Jesus conquered death, rising from the dead, just as He said that He would do!
Let’s get to our text this morning. At this moment in time, we see Jesus withdrawing. Let’s begin in verse 7, ...
Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, "You are the Son of God!" And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.
Here’s my point from this portion of Scripture.
Why do people follow Jesus?
1. Because Of What He Can Do For Them (Verses 7-12)
This is obviously the reason why "a great multitude" was following Jesus -- because of what He could do for them! Jesus could heal all of their diseases. Jesus could heal all of their afflictions. Psalm 103 was fully true of Jesus.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
That’s why they were coming to Him. He was healing their diseases!
And from the geography of the passage, we can tell that they came from miles around in all direction. They came from Jerusalem in the south, a three day’s walk (verse 8). They came from Judea, further south of Jerusalem (verse 7). They came from Idumea, even further south and further east (verse 8). They came from the east, beyond the Jordan (verse 8). They came from the northwest, from the coastal towns of Tyre and Sidon. (verse 8).
Why did they come? Verse 8 says, "A great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him." The hope was that Jesus would do for them what He has been doing for others.
The crowds were so vast, that Jesus cared for His own safety. He arranged for a boat to be prepared, so that He would be able to seek refuge in the sea of Galilee, if the crowd would press in upon Him too much. With the boat prepared, Jesus could seek refuge a few meters out into the sea, where nobody could reach Him, until things calmed down (verse 9). The concerns of Jesus were rightly grounded. According to verse 10, Jesus was healing so many people, that "all those who had affliction pressed around Him in order to touch Him."
Picture a rock star walking through a crowd of admirers. They are climbing all over each other, for just a chance to touch their hero. Only, with Jesus, it is worse. For when people touched Him, they were healed, which made them press on toward Him all the more.
It didn’t matter what sort of illness the people had. From physical afflictions to demonic possession, Jesus was healing them all. In fact, this is why they were coming to Jesus. He was healing the people. The people were seeking healing. They were coming to Jesus because of what He could do for them.
And you know, this is why many people come to Jesus. This is why many people follow after Him: Because Of What He Can Do For Them (Verses 7-12)
People come to Jesus, because (they think), He will fix their marriage. People come to Jesus, because (they think), He will reward them with financial blessing. People come to Jesus, because (they think), He will give them a better life. People come to Jesus, because (they think), He will heal them of some disease.
Such people are often as fickle as this crowd who is following Jesus. Sure, things are going great today! Everyone is being healed! Everyone is happy! But give it a year or two, ang it will be obvious why they have come to Jesus. The crowds will be crying, "Crucify Him! ... Crucify Him!" (Mark 15:13-14).
The same is true today. When people come to Jesus, you simply need to wait for a year or two to see what happens to them. If they came to follow Jesus because of what Jesus can do for them, a year or two of living will quickly show where their heart really is.
In the next chapter over (Mark 4), Jesus will tell the parable of the sower and the soils. The seed is cast everywhere, and it grows up in many places -- upon the path, upon the rocky soil, upon the thorny soil, upon the good soil. In some places, like the path, the seed doesn’t take hold at all. But, upon the thorny soil and upon the rocky soil, the seed takes and the plant sprouts, but the plant doesn’t remain. It either gets scorched by the affliction or persecution that comes because it has no root (Mark 4:17). Or, it becomes unfruitful due "the worries of the world, and to the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for others things" (Mark 4:19). Only time can tell when the seed falls upon good soil.
Only time will tell why people choose to follow after Jesus. If it’s anything less than the call of Jesus -- "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it" (Mark 8:34-35); if it’s anything less than total surrender to Christ, they will be just like the crowds who are adoring Jesus for what He can give but denying Christ when He demands that they give.
And so, I press this upon you. Why do you follow Jesus? Is it merely Because Of What He Can Do For Them [You] (Verses 7-12)? Or, have you come to believe who Jesus Christ is? He is the Son of God!
This is what the demons were shouting out in verse 11: "You are the Son of God!" In that day, Jesus was "earnestly warning [the unclean spirits] not to tell who He was" (verse 12). We have seen this before with the unclean spirit in the synagogue (1:25). Jesus admonished Him to be quiet. We have seen it with the leper (1:44). Jesus "sternly warned him ... [to] say nothing to anyone."
In part, this is because the time of Jesus wasn’t here yet. He had much that He wanted to accomplish before everyone fully realized who He was. But, today, it is far different! There’s no hiding the identity of Jesus today! He is the Son of God (3:11). He is the Holy One of God (1:24). And you will either believe in Him and trust in Him with your whole heart for your whole life, or you will only follow Him as long as He continues to give you good things.
Well may we learn the lesson of Job: "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21).
Why Do People Follow Jesus? First, Because Of What He
Can Do For Them (Verses 7-12). Second, ...
2. Because He Has Called Them (verses 13-19)
And He *went up on the mountain and *summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons. And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, "Sons of Thunder"); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.
Here we see the calling of the twelve disciples. Now, it’s not that Jesus didn’t have any disciples before this. No, we have already seen Jesus call four disciples in chapter 1 -- Peter, Andrew, James and John. In Chapter 2, verse 14, Jesus called Levi (or Matthew). Furthermore, when Jesus went to Levi’s home to dine with him and his friends, we read that there were many disciples following Jesus.
And yet, there is a special designation of these twelve disciples. On several occasions, Mark calls these men, "the twelve."  He went with the twelve (11:11). He summoned the twelve (6:7). He called the twelve (9:35). The twelve were asking Him questions (4:10).
Jesus travelled with these men. Jesus ate with these men. Jesus gave Himself to these men. Jesus trained them. Jesus sent these men out.
You can see the purpose for which Jesus called these men to Himself right there in verse 14, "He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons" (verses 14-15). On the one hand, this was needed because of the crowds. They were overwhelming and too much for any one man to handle -- even the Son of God! Twelve disciples would help to shoulder the load of ministry.
Yet, on the other hand, these men weren’t your best candidates for ministry. By that, I mean this: if we were able to choose 12 men during the days of Jesus, I doubt that these 12 men would be the ones that we would choose. Four of them were fishermen - Peter and James and John and Andrew (verses 16-18). These were the first four men on the list. Fishermen were not the most educated people of the day. They were blue-collar laborers of the day.
Peter was the man with the foot-shaped mouth, always seeming to say the wrong thing. You see this best on the mount of Transfiguration. The body of Jesus transfigures into a bright light. Moses and Elijah appear. They are talking with Jesus. Rather than being silent and appearing wise, Peter opened his mouth and demonstrated his foolishness. He said, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah" (Mark 9:5). And then, Mark comments, "For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified" (Mark 9:6). But, Peter was going to say something. He just couldn’t remain silent. That wasn’t his character.
Another example comes on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, ...
And Jesus *said to them, "You will all fall away, because it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee." But Peter said to Him, "Even though all may fall away, yet I will not." And Jesus *said to him, "Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times." But Peter kept saying insistently, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And they all were saying the same thing also.
The guy who always stumbles in what he says isn’t the best candidate for ministry; He’ll leave a trail of wounded people in his tracks.
James and John were no better. I picture them to be union-workers in downtown New York -- bold and brash. In verse 17, we see the nickname that Jesus gave to James and John. He called them, "Boanerges," which Mark translates here, "Sons of Thunder." No doubt, this was, in part, due to their personality. James and John were the ones who saw someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and they tried to prevent him from doing so because he wasn’t one of the twelve (Mark 9:38). James and John were the ones who had the audacity to ask Jesus that they might be able to sit on the right and left hand of Jesus (Mark 10:35-40). I’m not sure that you would pick these men to be your disciples.
I’m not sure that you would pick Matthew either (verse 18). His other name is Levi, the tax collector, the despised of the society. Thomas (verse 18) is well-known for doubting the resurrection (John 20:24-28). I’m not sure that you would choose him, either. Simon the Zealot (verse 18), was a revolutionary, willing to rebel against the Roman government. He was not exactly one liable to submit to your leadership. On top of this, throw in Judas, who would eventually betray Jesus (verse 19).
These men were not stellar men whom Jesus chose because of their stellar qualification. William Hendriksen says it well in His commentary,
What points up the greatness of Jesus is that he took such men as these, and welded them into an amazingly influential community that would prove to be not only a worthy link with Israel’s past but also a solid foundation for the church’s future. Yes, he accomplished this multiple miracle with such men as these, with all their faults and foibles. Even when we leave out Judas Iscariot and concentrate only on the others, we cannot fail to be impressed with the majesty of the Savior, whose drawing power, incomparable wisdom, and matchless love were so astounding that he was able to gather around himself and to unite into one family men of entirely different, at times even opposite backgrounds and temperaments. Included in this little band was Peter the optimist, but also Thomas the pessimist; Simon the one-time Zealot, hating taxes and eager to overthrow the Roman government, but also Matthew, who had voluntarily offered his tax collecting services to that same Roman government. Peter, John, and Matthew, destined to become renowned through their writings, but also James the Less, who remains obscure but must have fulfilled his mission. 
And there’s something very comforting about this. See, if God would choose the wise and the intelligent and the skilled and the talented and the strong and the rich and the noble, what hope would there be for us? There would be none. The truth of the matter is that God uses weak vessels to accomplish His will.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1,
1 Corinthinas 1:26-31
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the LORD."
The disciples were weak vessels. And yet, after the resurrection, Peter and John spoke the word of God boldly. What made the difference? Acts 4:13 says, "Now as [the Sanhedrin] observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, as began to recognize them as having been with Jesus."
This is the key to how Jesus transforms any soul. Time with Jesus transforms the soul. Wasn’t that Jesus’ goal with these men? Mark 3:14 tells us, "He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach." Being with Jesus transformed these men, that they turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, "It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus." The disciples are case in point.
Now, why did the disciples follow Jesus? Because He Has Called Them (verses 13-19). The same is true for us as well. The only way that anyone will follow Jesus is if He calls them and if they respond by following Him.
What about You? Have you responded to the call of Jesus?
Now, it may not be the case that Jesus has gone up to the mountain and has come down, calling you in the flesh. But, the word is out: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Have you responded?
Let’s move on to my third point. Why Do People
3. Because They Want To Discredit Him (verses 20-30)
This comes in verse 20, ...
And He *came home, and the crowd *gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, "He has lost His senses." The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons."
Again, I encourage you to catch the geographic reference here to the scribes. They "came down from Jerusalem" (verse 22). That’s a long way. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a three day journey to Galilee, where Jesus had been ministering to people. And they followed after Jesus, only to discredit Him.
They came down to counteract the message of Jesus, saying things like, "He is possessed by Beelzebul." That is, the Lord of the flies. That is, the god of the manure pile. They also said, "He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons."
They hadn’t followed Jesus, so that they could learn from Him. No, they had followed Jesus, so that they could refute Him. Do you know that there are lots of people like this? Many people know a lot about God. But, they don’t know about Him to believe in Him. Rather, they know about Him, so that they can discredit Him.
This happens in the academic world all the time. On secular campuses, it’s vogue to discredit Jesus, all in the name of scholarship. People will go out of their way to put a blight on the name of Jesus.
I remember a friend of mine coming back from college. And having learned the ways of philosophy, He set up a meeting with me to show me how foolish I was to follow the Lord.
People don't usually say outwardly that they are discrediting the Lord. But, I once remember a man doing so. I remember when I was single and in seminary. On one occasion, I was headed off to church. I was early, and so I went to a park, sat on a picnic bench and was reading my Bible and praying. This is not always the wisest thing to do in the heart of Los Angeles. But, as I was doing so, an older man approached me. He appeared a bit unkempt, like he may have just spent the night in the park. He may have been a homeless man. Anyway, this man asked me what I was doing. I told him that I was praying, preparing my heart for church.
This man seemed interested in what I believed. We had a conversation for a while. He clearly didn’t believe what I was telling Him. And yet, he was knowledgeable of the Bible. One thing that I remember about him is that he had the name, "Yahweh" tattooed onto his arm. Well, one thing led to another, and he joined me that morning in church. As we were driving to church, he said that he was hungry, so we stopped at a place and I got a few things for him to eat. Then, on our way to church, he said something to the effect of, "This will be fun to hear what the preacher says, so that we can mock him." Why I brought this man to church, I’m not sure. But, he didn’t last long. I brought him in and soon after the first song, I looked around, and he was gone. He had only come to discredit Jesus and the preacher at the church.
That’s why the scribes came down from Jerusalem. They came to tell everyone that Jesus was demon-possessed. The hope was that everyone would recognize this and go home, thereby stopping this whole, "Jesus movement." Verse 23, ...
And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!
With these words, Jesus shows the foolishness of what these scribes had just said! It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense that Satan would cast out Satan.
Think about a kingdom. If it is divided, it won’t stand. The infighting will destroy it without the enemy even needing to come against it. The same is true of a house. When husband and wife and children are divided against each other, that house will fall.
In effect, Jesus was saying, "If you, Mr. Scribe, are so concerned about the ways of God, then you ought to be rejoicing in this day, if indeed Satan is casting out Satan. Because, if that’s the case, Satan’s kingdom will not stand. It will crumble before your eyes." With these words, Jesus was discrediting the one coming to discredit Him. Such are the ways of God. God will always get the last laugh!
Jesus, here, turned the table against these scribes to demonstrate their folly. No, Satan isn’t divided. Rather, another explanation makes the most sense. This comes in verse 27.
But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.
This is what Jesus has done. He has come into enemy territory and has bound the strong man. And now, He is plundering the house. And then come His solemn words, ...
"Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" -- because they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit."
The ways of God were utterly clear to these scribes. They saw the miracles that Jesus was doing. They couldn’t discredit the miracles. And so, they turned against Jesus. They said that the power of Jesus was really the power of Satan. And Jesus says, they will never be forgiven. This is often called, "The unpardonable sin." It is the sin that will never been forgiven.
You say, "What is that sin?" It’s the sin of seeing the power of Jesus in all its glory; it’s the sin of witnessing the healing of disease; it’s the sin of beholding demons fleeing from possessed people, and then attributing it all to the power of Satan. Verse 30 is the key to understanding this sin. Jesus said these things "because they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’"
It’s one thing to be confused. Jesus is patient with those who are confused. It’s one thing to battle with unbelief. Jesus dealt gently with Thomas who doubted. It’s one thing to struggle with sin in the flesh. Jesus knows our every temptation. But, it’s another thing all together to turn and take the offensive against the Lord, and to call Him Satanic! God will never forgive such a sin!
Now, let me say this. Those who commit the unpardonable sin will not seek forgiveness. Their hearts are so hard that they won’t have a desire to turn back again. God has given them over to their sin, and they won’t ever come back. God will never turn away a repentant soul, seeking forgiveness.
This ought to come as a comfort to any soul who is concerned that they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Let me say it another way. If you are concerned whether or not you have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, then you probably haven’t done so. Because, those who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit aren’t concerned about these things.
Well, let’s move on. Why Do People Follow Jesus?
They follow Him Because Of What He Can Do For Them (Verses 7-12). They follow Him
Because He Has Called Them (verses 13-19). They follow Him Because They Want To
Discredit Him (verses 20-30). And, they follow Him, ...
4. Because They Are Family (verses 31-35).
We read in verse 31, ...
Then His mother and His brothers *arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they *said to Him, "Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You."
These verses are really a continuation of a verse that I skipped. Look back at verse 20, ...
When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, "He has lost His senses."
I like how the ESV translates it at this point: "He is out of his mind." This phrase, "His own people" is a difficult phrase to translate. Literally, it is "those from Him." This is probably referring to His family, as that’s what verses 31 and 32 are talking about.
The family of Jesus thought that He had lost His mind. They were outside, trying to rescue Jesus from Himself. If possible, they would have come right into the house, grabbed Jesus and physically removed Him from the situation. And yet, the crowds prevented them from doing so. So, they did the next best thing. They sent a message to Jesus saying that they wanted to talk with Him. In reality, they wanted to lock Him up in the insane asylum. I love what Jesus says, ...
Answering them, He *said, "Who are My mother and My brothers?" Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother."
I love the irony here. The physical family of Jesus is following Jesus, because they think that He is crazy. The spiritual family of Jesus is following Jesus, because they think that He is the real deal. Jesus could equally say to those in this church, ...
"Who are My mother and My brothers?" ... "Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother."
We follow Jesus, because we are His family.
I’m reminded of the words of C. S. Lewis. In his book, "Mere Christianity," Lewis writes, ...
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. 
In other words, Jesus is either Lord of the universe, a raving lunatic, or the world's greatest liar. There are no other options. Some, like His family, thought that He was a lunatic and out of his mind (verse 21, 31-35). Others, like the scribes who came from Jerusalem, thought that He was a liar who was casting out Satan by Satan.
But, Jesus proved both of these to be false. He wasn’t casting out demons by the power of Satan. He wasn’t crazy as His family thought. He was the Lord.
And He calls us to follow Him, as He did His twelve disciples (verse 13-19).
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on
February 26, 2012 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.