There were three kinds of people who physically followed Jesus 2000 years ago. The crowds, the curious and the committed. (I was going to call these three groups, the crowds, the in-between folks and the disciples but the Three C’s sound so much better).
The crowds: Notice that Jesus was always very gentle with the crowds. He wasn’t hard on them like he was on his own religious leaders. He accepted and encouraged them. He spoke truth, for sure, but was always gentle. He fed them. He healed them. He taught them. And gently called them to more….
The curious: these were the ones who broke out of the crowds just a bit, usually to “get something” from Jesus. They wanted more. Maybe Nicodemus. Or someone wanting to be healed. They were amazed and intrigued by Jesus. To these he would often give commands like “don’t tell anyone” or “go in peace.” Not a lot of direction from Jesus to these, but he always gave them what they needed.
The committed: these were the disciples. The ones who obeyed Jesus. They heard and did. They were with him constantly. Still often confused and missing the point, but always coming back to Jesus. They were the 12 (yes, I’d even put Judas in this camp). But they were also the 72 and probably several hundred whose names we don’t know.
Notice that all three categories were “followers of Jesus” and that Jesus honored each where they were, while always calling them to more. When I use the term “follower of Jesus” I could mean any of the three.
Which are you? Honestly, I find myself to be in each of the three “camps” at different times in my life. And…..how do we treat our friends who might be in any one of these places in their following of the Messiah?