Jesus was in a small group
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. …
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out …
- Mark 3:7, 1-14a
Jesus was in a small group. Did you realize that?
He had the ability to draw large crowds who would follow him even out into the wilderness. He could get the attention of those in power. The Jesus movement could have grown and grown and grown. And yet he pauses to form a small group.
Because of the natural limits of human relationships, our God-become-human couldn’t have intimate connections with everyone in the crowd. He could only be really close to a few … a dozen or so (we know he had some close friends beyond the Twelve).
We each have deep needs for human relationships and limited capacity to pursue them. In 1963, Edward Hall coined the term “proxemics” to talk about the differences between intimate space, personal space, social space, and public space. Different relationships fall into different categories.
The crowd offered Jesus the sort of relationships that happen in public space. He could teach and they could listen; he could read the crowd, but not connect with individuals. But his “small group” offered a deeper level of engagement, life in the social space. He could check to see if his disciples understood him. He could learn from them. He could share more with them by living life with them than by lecturing them.
When have you ever had a relationship in “social space” with someone who you had previously only known in “public space”? How did this change your relationship with them?