23. Wildfire

Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 23. Wildfire!

Mk 1:28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson, I believe, who said, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” That was a simple way of saying, ‘make something that the world wants and they will flock to you.’ Now the first stage of that is the word getting out that you have better mousetrap – or a better religion! Until Jesus arrived, all Israel knew was institutional religion, dry, dusty and orthodox – and dead! Suddenly an exciting preacher turns up who speaks like God is real and then does stuff to show a power that had been absent from the land for centuries. No wonder the news spread quickly over the whole region.

What we have in this verse is a shorthand version of what crops up again and again in the Gospels, for example, Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” (Mt 4:23-25). He healed every disease and sickness in those who came to him! No wonder it was ‘large crowds’ who came. Here was a preacher who came transforming lives for the better.

But it wasn’t only the power to heal. We do need to reiterate that his teaching was attractive. After the Sermon on the Mount, we find, “When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.”(Mt 8:1) Yes, surely it was his healing reputation but what he said and how he said it also drew the crowds. Yet isn’t this true whenever God is moving? Great crowds flocked to John the Baptist (e.g. Lk 3:7) and they have flocked to any great anointed preacher throughout Church history. Partly it is the man but (certainly in revivals) it is the power of the Holy Spirit convicting people of their need, and so crowds flock to wherever it is that that need is being met. Hungry unbelievers don’t really know what they want, but the word spreads like wildfire and the crowds flock to hear.

Lord, please come again to our land with revival power. Draw people to yourself. Come in power and let the word spread like wildfire!