He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.
I think it’s striking how many times Mark reports Jesus as teaching. Do you remember earlier, when Mark shares that even when Jesus and the disciples were trying to get away for a time of rest, the crowds made it to their intended place of retreat ahead of them? Jesus didn’t get angry. Instead, Mark describes, “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34).
We’ve seen Jesus heal, we’ve seen him feed, we’ve seen him drive unclean spirits away. But more than anything else, we’ve seen him teach. It was, as Mark says, his custom.
Because as wonderful as feedings are, the food is eventually digested. As wonderful as healings are, you will grow ill once again. As wonderful as being cleaned of an evil spirit must have been, yet you will eventually fall prey to something else. We are all mortal, vulnerable, born, ultimately, to die. And in response to our mortality and vulnerability and utter humanity Jesus teaches. He teaches about the God who created life and will re-create it. He teaches about the God who expects us to keep the law and forgives us when we don’t. He teaches about a mercy that is wider than the sea and grace more plentiful than the grains of sand in a desert.
Jesus teaches because he wants to introduce us to God in a new way so that we will come to know and trust that the God who created the cosmos is accessible to us and the God who sustains the universe is available to us. Jesus teaches us about God and about God’s reign, his kingdom of love and mercy. It’s the one thing Jesus has to offer that won’t, over time, fade away. Because it is the truth of who and what God is for us and for all people.
And so when Jesus sees the crowd he teaches them. And us.
It was his custom. That is, he just couldn’t help it.
Prayer: Dear God, we give you thanks for Jesus’ teaching. Let us listen and learn and come to know you again and anew. In Jesus’ name, Amen.