5 Groups of People Jesus Encountered
During the three and a half years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He encountered 5 different groups/types of people.
These groups were touched, influenced, taught, reprimanded, and even rebuked by Jesus. As you read this, you will identify with one or more of this company of people as all of us belong to one or more of them. When our spiritual life and relationship with the Lord progressively grow in Him, we will gradually move from one type of people to another and eventually find ourselves to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are Christians but not all Christians are disciples. These divergent classes of people were not so much identified by their outer apparel or social class (although they were in certain cases), but in their attitude and words towards Jesus. The disposition of the hearts of these different groups can be heard from their mouths and seen by their works as we read the four Gospels. For as He said, “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil”.
1. The Family
Here we find ourselves with Jesus in everyday relational complexities of being part of an earthly family. Some of us have been brought up in a large family with brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, while others again were the only child or brought up in a single parent home. Our homes were a place of solace, peace, and warmth but could also have been a site for conflict, abuse, and fear. Our family and those who were part of our childhood made a lasting impression on us and shaped our behaviour and the choices we made and are still making in life. They also have a picture in mind of your actions, attitude and manners, which tainted their memories of you. This is so imprinted in their minds that to see you in a new light, when you have changed in attitude and heart, is nearly impossible.
There came the time in your life when you were born again. You confessed Jesus as Lord and Saviour of your life and became God’s child. This was either gladly accepted by your immediate family or thought of as strange and may even have caused division.
After Jesus’ baptism in water, receiving the Holy Spirit and forty days of fasting in the desert, He returned to His hometown. He came to declare to His family and all who knew Him, what His God-given purpose was. Much like us, when we also came home after we got our first job or when we graduated from College or University, excited to tell the family of our new career and plans. The same scenario could have occurred when we arrived home after accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour and wanted to share our new found treasure with our family and friends, enthusiastically telling them our salvation story. An example of this is what we find in the next piece of Scripture:
Luke 4:18-24 (KJV) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
Jesus made these statements in the presence of everybody as it was the custom for all to go to the Synagogue on the Sabbath. He ensured that His family and hometown heard the news first. In John 7 we find a family discussion. His brothers jokingly told Him what they thought He should do because they, His own brothers, did not believe in Him. Taking into consideration He was already in His 3rd year of ministry with a lot of miracles, teachings, followers and disciples added to his credentials.
John 7:1-5 (NIV) After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
There are those who are privileged to have a family who also serves the Lord with all of their hearts. However, many Christians have a spouse or parents or brothers and sisters who are not children of God and who mock and ridicule and even persecute their own family members. This is certainly unfortunate, but it should not upset any child of God for even our Lord Jesus Christ experienced the same treatment. For many Christians there is the choice between family and Jesus.
Once baptized in water, the Spirit also baptizes us into a new spiritual family. Then we can echo the words of Jesus, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother”.
2. The Crowds
Where do we find the crowds? Is it not at the places of entertainment where people see the extraordinary, the abnormal and breathtaking events? Or even the funny and bizarre, the mysterious and where miracles happen? Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology and their behaviour has been observed and studied over the past decades. Large groups of people have been able to bring about dramatic and sudden change in history. Social scientists have developed several different theories for explaining crowd psychology and the ways in which the psychology of the crowd differs significantly from the psychology of those individuals within it.
The Bible speaks of several times where the crowds followed Jesus. The people followed Him because they were amazed at the miracles they had seen, the authority He taught with, and the exorcism of demons.
John 6:2 (NLT) A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick.
Matthew 7:28-29 (AMP) When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, For He was teaching as One Who had [and was] authority, and not as [did] the scribes.
Luke 4:36 (NIV) All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”
What typifies a crowd is the way their emotions can be swayed from the one extreme to the other. The one moment they love and the next they will hate. Now they will shout “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” but given the right incitement, they will cry out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
The questions each one of us must ask ourselves are:
- Why am I going to Church and why am I serving the Lord Jesus Christ?
- Am I part of the crowd?
- Do I follow after signs and wonders and the crowd’s excitement?
- How much is my heart- and soul’s attitude toward the Lord influenced by others?
- If my serving the Lord is dependant on the group’s feelings or behaviour then what will my spiritual life be when the crowd is not there anymore?
3. The Needy
The 3rd group of people who came from near and far to be around Jesus, were those in need of healing, deliverance and a miracle. On nearly every page of the Gospels we find those with desperate needs, the lame and the blind, the lepers and the afflicted, the demonized and the dead. Jesus declared at the beginning of His ministry in His hometown how; “He has been anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised and preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Jesus was the good news who gave health to the bones as well as the living water to the weary souls. He is still the Healer and Provider, our Helper and Saviour, Deliverer and Bestower of eternal salvation. Sitting at the right of the Father, He intercedes for us, knowing the frailty of the human nature as well as the cunning craftiness of men and the luring temptations of the enemy.
Many times we find ourselves in situations where the humanly impossible is needed. When we have come to the end of our own strength or wisdom and we require a miracle, something supernatural to happen. At such occasions we are also The Needy, desiring a touch or breakthrough from an Almighty God who specializes in doing the impossible. As the angel Gabriel told Mary, “For with God nothing shall be impossible”. Jesus reiterated Gabriel’s statement to His disciples, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God”.
4. The Scribes and Pharisees.
These people were the religious leaders of the day. There were three major religious societies at the time of Jesus – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. The Pharisees were the most dominant and outspoken of the three. The word Pharisee means, a separist. They considered themselves much holier than the common people and wore special long garments to distinguish themselves from others. The Pharisees and Sadducees were in opposition as to certain principles tenets. One of the differences between the two groups was that the Pharisees believed in the existence of angels and spirits and the doctrine of the resurrection, while the Sadducees denied both.
Jesus made some remarkable comments to and about these leaders:
- “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
- “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
- “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”
- “Let them (the Pharisees) alone and disregard them; they are blind guides and teachers. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a ditch.”
- “Be careful and on your guard against the leaven (ferment) of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then they discerned that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
- “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
- “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?”
- “…for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’”
- “You serpents! You spawn of vipers! How can you escape the penalty to be suffered in hell (Gehenna)?”
It is clear from the above statements of Jesus that He did not see them as Godly leaders, righteous guides for the nation of Israel. Instead, He condemned them and their way of life. They were in the same category as the people Paul warned Timothy to stay away from, “For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].”
The Pharisees were speaking the right words, using the correct verses of Scripture and outwardly displaying the strict code of conduct according to the Law. However, inwardly the motives of their hearts were far from sincere and honest. The reason Jesus called them hypocrites.
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, He made it very clear in what way God must be worshipped. He did not describe any outward actions, religious traditions, praise and worship sessions, long prayers, or strict dietary regulations. He simply said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Here we have the Figure Hendiadys and it could also read, in true spirit or truly in spirit or truly with the spirit. Any outward actions such as singing, praying or dancing have no significance in the worshipping of God unless it is done with an honest and truthful heart. Therefore, judging someone on the way they are worshipping God, without knowing the intent and motive of their heart, is purely an act of prejudice – showing the condition of one’s own heart.
Again some questions should be asked:
“Am I like the Pharisees? Doing the acceptable outward works but my heart is not in it.”
“Is the praise of men more important than serving in a way or a place where only the Lord knows of it?
“Am I quick to give a Bible verse or to say ‘the Lord says…”, but slow to do what He requires of me?”
“Do the people know how much I give, how much I pray and when I fast?”
The Fifth group you will find under “(How to be…#3) a disciple of Jesus Christ“.
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 Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.
 1Corinthians 12:13
 Matthew 4:25; 8:1; 13:2; 14:13-15; 15:10; 19:2; 20:29; 21:9; 22:33 (NIV); Mark 2:13; 3:7,9,20,32; 4:1; 5:21,25; 6:34; 7:14,33; 8:1; 9:14,25; 10:1,46 (NIV); Luke 5:15,19,29; 7:9,11-12,24; 8:4,19,43,45; 9:11,37; 11:14,29; 12:1,54, 14:25; 19:3,37; 22:47 (NIV); John 6:2,5; 7:20,31; 12:7,29.
 Existing or occurring through some agency beyond the known forces of nature. Lying outside the sphere of natural law, whether psychic or physical. That which transcends nature and is outside the accepted and known order of nature. The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English language. 2004 Edition. Trident Press International.
 “After the resettling of the Jewish people in Judea on their return from the Babylonian captivity, there were two religious groups among them. One party contended themselves with the following only what was written in the Law of Moses. These were called Zadikim, the righteous. The other group added the constitutions and traditions of the elders, as well as other rigorous observances, to the Law and voluntarily complied with them. They were called Chasidim or the pious. From the Zadikim the sects of the Sadducees and Karaites were derived. From the Chasidim were derived the Pharisees and the Essenes”. The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary, New Testament. Spiros Zodhiates Th.D. 1993 Revised Edition.
 2Timothy 3:5 (AMP)
 “Two words employed, but only one thing, or idea, intended. One of the two words expresses the thing, and the other intensifies it by being changed (if a noun) into an adjective of the superlative degree, which is, by this means, made especially emphatic. This figure is truly oriental, and exceedingly picturesque. It is found in Latin as well as Hebrew and Greek, and is very frequently used in the Old and New Testaments”. Bullinger, E.W. 2004. Figures of Speech used in the Bible.. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
 Bullinger, E.W. 1979. Word Studies on the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications