Before I became a Christian I have been organizing small pop festivals, and I went to a school for music and event management. After I became a Christian, other Christians wanted me to ‘use’ my talents for the Kingdom. For a short time I tried, but failed. My ‘talent’ was based on my egocentric character and was not Jesus focused. But that is something for a different blog, for another day. This blog is about an observation I have made in the Gospel of Mark.
When you are organizing a festival there are always questions like, “Is it safe?”, “How many people are there?”, “What can go wrong?” etc. With those questions I have read the Gospel of Mark and found remarkable ways of how Jesus was controlling his audience.
Jesus was, according to the Gospels, a super famous person. Everybody was talking about him (1:28). Also very soon in his Ministry (according to Mark) he had to wake up in the morning to find a place where He could be alone. This because everybody was looking for Him (1:37). For He was driving out demons (1:25, 39), healing people (1:41) and preaching in their synagogues (1:39). Thus, “As result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.”( 1:45)
Those masses of people had to be a problem for Jesus His organization. When Jesus entered Capernaum, so many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door! ( 2:2). If we read further we notice that the crowd is now following Jesus to the lake ( 3:7). And now, for the first time written in Mark, we can read that the crowd became not only a problem, but a dangerous issue. Too many people wanted to touch Jesus, so that a possible chaos was at hand. “Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. “( 3:9-10). Jesus had to make precautions before it all went wrong for the people. Gundry notes that, “He is concerned about the possibility of being crushed.” However, I strongly disagree with him, because I believe that Jesus was not scared for himself (the time of Jesus was not there yet) but for the crowd being crushed. Because some where pushing towards Jesus to touch him while others were escaping or leaving because they were just healed or delivered. For this, Jesus prepared a boat to remove the problem from the scene, Jesus himself. When Jesus was gone, no one could touch Him and when no one could touch him, the pushing towards Jesus stopped. Later on we see that Jesus immediately got into a boat because crowd was so large (4:1). Now he could preach to the crowd that would listen on the shore without a crowd that wanted to touch Him.
If we go further in the book of Mark skipping some situations when a large crowd followed him or gathered around Him, we come to the famous story of Jesus feeding the Five thousand (6:30-42). He saw the large crowd and had compassion with them (6:34). They were hungry and He wanted to feed them. For the disciples this was a problem. There were too many people and they had not enough money to feed them. For Jesus this was not a problem at all, as we can see in this passage. But to feed the people without creating a massive outbreak of chaos that could lead to panic, anger, aggression, and could even (in a worst case scenario) lead to the death of a lot of people. Without crowd control, there would be no hold to a large crowd of people that were hungry. So before Jesus broke the fish and loaves He directed them (the disciples) to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass (6:39). So the disciples were like a kind of stewards/security. The kind we have now at big events. They directed the people in groups of hundreds and fifties. This in order to have a good overview and easy excess to the large crowd of people. This also indicates that there were at least more than one group of five thousand so with a minimum of ten thousand people it was a large crowd (This would be logic because the number of men who had eaten was five thousand (6:44), but the women and children were not counted). Then, while Jesus broke the fish and loaves, he gave the fish and loaves to the disciples as an opposite of collecting money like nowadays in the church. Jesus was giving the crowd food through the disciples that now where delivering boys. Or they had different teams, some that held the groups together, some that delivered the food (This could indicate a successful organization!).
I want to note one important thing what interested me a lot. That is, which we see in the entire book of Mark, that Jesus was famous and He was a magnet of large crowds. But near the end of Jesus His ministry when He was arrested, we see that Pilate gives the crowd, although under control of the chief priest, a choice (15:11). Freeing the famous Jesus the King of the Jews, who delivered so much of people and brought healing, or to free Barabbas, a criminal, instead (15:6-11). They shouted that Jesus should be crucified! When did Jesus lose the magnitude of the crowd? Or was the crowd present at the trial not the same one as the crowd present when Jesus did the miracles and the wonders?
 Robert H. Gundry, A survey of the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, Michigan 2003), 135