Many years ago, I heard a story which I think relates to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the courageous leader of the Confessing Church which opposed the Nazis in Germany, and who suffered greatly for his resistance. He was once invited to speak to a gathering of students, during which event one particularly cocky young chap got up and asked why anyone would bother going to church anymore. Bonhoeffer eyed this young man for a moment, and then simply replied ‘Do you not run to church?’
Mark chapter 6 begins and ends with a tale of two contrasts. We began with Jesus visiting his home town and encountering the sort of passive-aggressive contempt manifested by the young student in our story. People thought they knew Jesus – and couldn’t imagine him as the person he had already become. ‘Surely we’re not getting excited about this?’ would be a paraphrase of verses 2-3.
What a contrast with our passage today. Away from his home town, Jesus is seen completely differently: people are desperate to meet him. They come from all over, bringing anyone who needs healing. They are so enthusiastic for an encounter with Jesus, they’re even prepared just to touch the edge of his cloak. To get that close is enough!
Mark simply summarises the contrast in two words: ‘They ran.’ I find this inspiring and challenging. Normally I only run to church because I’m late! Would I run just because I want so much to meet Jesus?
Lord, grant me that first love again. Help me to run to meet you this day. To be in awe of all you are and all you do. That’s my prayer – could it be yours, too?