One day, when we were in Jerusalem, the crowds in the narrow streets got to me. It was hot, smelly, and noisy. Many people shouted in many languages. People kept trying to sell me stuff, and people pushing to see edifices that were more likely memorials to quarrelling religious traditions than actual historic locations were just too much. People, people, people! I just wanted to get out of there.
I don’t like crowds much. In fact, one of the major factors in planning my day is figuring out how to avoid crowds. It’s not merely that I am inpatient and dislike accommodating everyone’s need to turn left on the same corner, or reach for the same sale item on the same shelf, (although I admit the attitude needs some work), it’s that I am not good at blocking out the humanity of humanity.
I feel anxiety, frustration, fatigue, disappointment, excitement, and aggressiveness that is not just mine. Lately I sense more anger and outright hatred than usual. When I do treat individuals in a crowd like noisy unpredictable impediments in a video game and resort to self-serving assertiveness, I don’t like what I have become. Yet to act otherwise means not getting business done so I can escape.
Jesus avoided crowds when he could, but at the same time, these were the people he came to save. Perhaps his exhaustion came from feeling so much in the people who pulled at him and shouted to him. He never shut off his compassion.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
Today we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem. We remember that even though he sensed the thoughts and feelings of everyone in those crowded streets, including the ones who wanted to kill him and would soon manipulate a mob to call for his execution, he still loved them.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37
He still longs to gather the harassed and helpless into his arms. There is no greater love.
3 thoughts on “People, People, People”
No greater love shown by Jesus than dying for all of us. He shows us compassion!
He really does!
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