Jesus travels back to the area near Capernaum, to the shore of Lake Tiberius. It was likely close to where Peter, Andrew, James, and John had lived. Jesus told them to have a boat ready.
And at this moment, Mark gives us a glimpse of the popularity of Jesus.
People were coming to find him, based on the word of mouth about his teaching and miracles. They came from more than 100 miles to the south, fifty miles to the northeast, and from around the lake.
They were traveling on foot for days to hear and see what was happening. These groups of travelers or pilgrims or people desperate for healing and deliverance would find Jesus preaching along the shore. On days the group was large, they would crowd so close to him that there was a risk of being pushed into the lake. That’s why he needed a boat at hand. Because he couldn’t push back through the crowd to safety.
Some of the people who came were in someway rented by impure spirits. I could have said possessed, or filled, or directed, or haunted. Finding the word leads us to discussions about what exactly counts as whatever word we choose. We get distracted from the point.
And the point is that spirits identified as evil were somehow afflicting people. Jesus was telling them to stop with the affliction and to stop testifying to who he was.
It’s easy for some people to decide that if you are recognized as God by evil spirits, you must be evil yourself. It’s easy for people to bring evidence around to support the conclusion they’ve reached. Even if they aren’t right.
People arriving from afar and forming crowds. Jesus needing physical protection. It sounds like Jesus might need to get some helpers.