Matt. 8:34 - Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (NIV)
Reading Matthew chapter eight, I find one of the most interesting and profound chapters with insight into the heart of man. Six significant sections and events occur. The first is our Lord heals a man with Leprosy (v. 1 - 4). The man acknowledging Jesus as the Christ and ability to "make me clean."
Next a Roman Centurion (gentile) comes before Christ. Asking Him to heal a servant he loves suffering from paralysis. Jesus says He will but the Centurion exhibits faith not seen in all Israel. Telling the Lord he is not worthy for Christ to enter his home. Rather, merely command and it did come to pass (v. 5 - 13).
Christ reaches the home of Peter and finds his mother-in-law sick with a fever. Touching her hand the fever leaves. Now many begin to bring the sick and demon possessed for Christ to take away infirmaries and diseases (v. 14 - 17) Faith has now seen the face of God.
Christ then asserts authority over disciples. A scribe states the desire to follow Jesus. When told to follow, delays saying he must wait to bury his father (v. 18 - 22) using an excuse to walk away. Christ as both Son of Man and Son of God, commands the disciples to enter a boat and cross the sea.
While sailing, Christ sleeps and a great storm befalls them. The disciples wake Jesus fearing for life. His Lordship over creation (v. 23 -28) is seen in calming the wind and waves. Arriving at the other side Jesus now meets two demoniac men, the ones he came to see. Neither can ask for help or show faith to be released. Christ addresses the demons and frees anyway. The demons are sent into a herd of swine running off a cliff and drowning.
The herdsmen of the swine run to town. All The people come and meet Jesus. Begging Him to depart their area! Imagine, the Lord of healing, over all spirits, man, and nature Who in love does the works of the Father. He is now pleaded with to go. Why were the people of the town so afraid?
He had not challenged the religious leaders in their hypocrisy's, stripping away authority. Jesus had not asked any to follow along with the other disciples to come and minister. In love He cast out demons. Jesus doing great works in love, desiring men be drawn to Him. Yet they entreated Christ to leave.
A simple reason explains this request. If staying and being touched by Jesus, their lives would change forever. They no longer would call the shots on what to do, where to go, or what to touch regardless of God and others. Christ becomes Lord and turning from sinful life ensues.
Vocations may change, economy, relationships certainly would, what, when and where is now according to Kingdom will. This temporal life known for so long … becomes radically changed. Something they feared and did not want. Everything known is now submitted to Christ.
Jesus freed two demoniacs who could not speak for themselves. How much more could He do for those Who could speak? What if they did not like what He said? The Lord of Life, Love, and All is standing before our eyes. No excuse of the scribe to wait and bury our father before following. This is ungodly fear facing God.
Very simply they loved life lived decades in darkness. They were more afraid to step out of the known into the Light, experiencing greater comfort in a life as a slave to sin. Choosing this over daily gazing into Jesus eyes and freed but now a slave of righteousness.
The revelation of mankind's heart in light of seeing Jesus and his work right before their eyes is both difficult to understand and not. Only because I know the many times I choose to leave Jesus and walk in flesh and sin. This is no less egregious than asking Him to leave. Either one allows living my way.
Heavenly Father, through Your Spirit reveal all areas I keep from You. Lord, provide strength to repent. Help me turn from asking You to leave by my life, words, and actions. Help me to humble myself in Your sight. You will raise me up and make me be all I was created to be in Christ Jesus. Lord, thank you for shining your light on all places of darkness of heart and life. Please renew a right spirit within me. In Jesus Name. Amen.
John 3:19, 21 - "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil … But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”(NASB)
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Attributions: New International Version®, NIV® Copyright Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright The Lockman Foundation