Good morning again my friends! It is nice to be writing to you again after being away at the EMCC’s Pastor’s Retreat and then enjoying some time away with my family camping over Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, you read that right, we were camping. It was kind of damp and chilly, but we have a nice tent trailer and a couple of heat sources. Actually let me pass on a bit of clever information that I had not thought of: if you are going camping and will be on a site with electricity, take an electric space heater with you. You are paying for electricity anyway, save your propane (if you have a furnace) and burn the electricity instead. Hadn’t thought of that before and a friend mentioned it to me before we left this past week. Worked well!
I want to focus on something today that I had not picked up before in reading through these gospel chapters. That’s why I love reading scripture by the way, different things stand out at different times.
In the Matthew 8 reading we find Jesus dealing with two demonic men. He casts out the demons, the men are freed and the villagers who hear about it beg Jesus to leave their area. Then we read through Mark 4-5 and we see a similar thing happen. Jesus is in the boat with his disciples, a storm comes upon them. Jesus calms the storm and the disciples are terrified of him.
I had not picked up on how often people displayed some pretty strong discomfort with Jesus before. Even the teaching parts of what we read today are not easy teachings. They challenge us to the core of who we are and why we do things.
Our reaction to Jesus can be similar. Jesus can be ready to teach us something difficult or be wanting to do something powerful in our lives and instead of welcoming him in to do the work he wants to do, we beg him instead to leave. Like in the story of the demons and the pigs, Jesus will do as we ask.
It is interesting that in these chapters today we see the opposite thing displayed as well. We see the reaction of the demon possessed man once he is healed and we read about the woman with the bleeding disorder who is healed and we read about the synagogue leader whose daughter is brought back to life. None of them respond with fear. They place their faith firmly in Jesus and respond in joy to the transforming work that Jesus does in their lives.
But notice the difference: the ones who respond in fear and discomfort are the ones who are not in desperate need, but the ones who respond in faith and joy are the ones who are in desperate need and find relief in Jesus. I wonder if sometimes we don’t realize that desperate need we are all in from a spiritual standpoint and so our response to Jesus is a bit off.
If you know that Jesus wants to work with you on something, that he wants to heal you of something or teach you something, let me encourage you to react with joy and faith in his transforming work in your life. Don’t beg him to leave.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Matthew 9-10