As I read Mark 4 today, I noticed again a theme that God seems to be impressing deeply on me these days. Here is another example of how Jesus addresses the crowds but then turns to the disciples to debrief the situation and go deeper into life-change in a more intimate, personal setting. Jesus provides a long discourse on the parable of the sower (and other parables) to the crowds that listened. But He provides an explanation to those guys who were walking with Him...those who gave Him access and to whom He had greater proximity.
It occurred to me today that I've often viewed His teachings to the crowds and His teachings to the disciples on the same or, at least, similar levels. But I don't believe that they are. Jesus can often be found teaching the crowd and then turning to the disciples in a way that suggests, "Okay, now that you've heard me say these things, let's talk about you and me for a little bit." I'm not suggesting that Jesus didn't love the crowds - He obviously loved them very much - but I am suggesting that Jesus' most important work happened with the disciples, not the crowds. And here was today's learning for me: I need to be paying more attention to what Jesus says to and how He interacts with the disciples rather than the crowd.
Much can be learned by dissecting what Jesus says to the crowd but much more can be gleaned by soaking up how Jesus interacts with the disciples. We are, after all, called to be and to make disciples rather than be or make a crowd.
In fact, if Jesus' words and interactions with the crowds were of primary importance, I believe that the New Testament would read very differently. It would be a collection of sermons. The disciples would be mysteriously missing altogether with the vast majority of the context of Jesus' interactions and guidance missing with them. But they are not missing: Jesus' work with the disciples - shaping them into the very guys who will usher in a movement of disciple-making and, when combined, the church - drips from most chapters of the Gospels.
Jesus loved and taught the crowds. But He focused on bringing life-change, identity, authority, and purpose to His disciples. You are called to be a disciple who makes other disciples. So join me in reading more about how Jesus would interact with you after the crowds have been taught and have left (that is what crowds do, after all...ask Jesus).