We begin Chapter 12 with an exciting verse. "Many thousands" of people had gathered together. There were so many people in one place, eager to see Jesus, that they were stepping on one another. Literally. Imagine that for a moment. People crowding together, all intent on one thing. Hearing from Jesus. They weren't there for the entertainment. They weren't there to be seen. (Well, maybe some of them were.) Most of the people were present for one reason. Jesus.
Luke prefaces that description of the crowd with three words, "under these circumstances". The "circumstances" were that Jesus had been invited to lunch by a Pharisee. Several other Pharisees and lawyers joined them. Jesus spoke hard truth to them and they didn't like it. After He left, they began to plot against Him. Destruction was afoot. Despite the fury of the religious leaders, now in open opposition to Jesus, the crowds still came to hear Him.
Why? Because they were hungry for something that their faith, as defined by the scribes and Pharisees, didn't give them. They wanted more than sacrifice. They wanted a way of life and a relationship with Almighty God. They wanted their lives to be clean and fresh and new in a way that only true repentance and the forgiveness of God, not an animal sacrifice, could give.
Despite the opposition of the leaders of their day, the people came to Jesus. We don't have to risk the displeasure or outright opposition of leaders in this country when we come to Jesus. Not yet, but one day we might. In countries around the world, our brothers and sisters in Christ risk their lives every day to worship Him.
Why do people risk their lives for Jesus? Because He is worth it. Why did the crowds come in such large numbers despite the opposition of religious leaders? Certainly some came to see what all the fuss was about, but the main reason was that He is worth it.
Are you frustrated with your life? Unhappy in relationships? Weary with the load you bear? Come to Jesus. Even if you've known Him for decades, the weight of this world can press in until you hardly know what to do. If that's where you are, bring your burdens to Jesus and leave them with Him.
Centuries ago, Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah, the Shepherd God would send. He was talking about Jesus. Read these verses again and let them be like balm, giving you strength and helping you through.
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:11, 29, 31 NASB)