The storm passed and the boat arrived safely on the other side of the lake. I imagine they would still be a bit shaky from the storm, looking forward to some rest on the beach perhaps.
Actually, I’m not imagining them at all right now. I’m thinking of me, on a beach. We should move on.
As I looked at Matthew 8:28-34 in light of my question “how and where did Jesus lead His disciples”, my first thought was “He led them to the demon possessed”. While technically this is true, I believe God wants us to see what isn’t so obvious.
First, let’s back up to 8:18 – “…He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.” Jesus went. That’s going to be my point today. On purpose, He went to the “other side”. Scripture only tells us of one thing He did when He reached the other side, so it’s safe to assume that Jesus went to the other side for just one reason.
He went to set someone free.
I like the seeing what Jesus does by looking at what He didn’t do. It’s often how my mind processes. He didn’t wait for the bound man to come to Him (clearly, this bound man could not have “come to Jesus” even if he wanted to…note to the Church). He didn’t demand that the man acknowledge his need to be free, or that he had to tell the demons they had to leave. There was not a three week, 12 step, or otherwise long process for freeing the man. Jesus came to a demon possessed man and demanded his freedom. I love what Jesus does, but I also love what He doesn’t do.
He went. Combine this scripture passage with Matthew 18:12, and you have my real point.
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?”
And He will still go to the other side after the one who needs to be free, and He will still go after the one who has wandered away from Him. This revelation forever changed my prayer life many years ago. I was frustrated in my prayer for a prodigal, because I kept praying for the prodigal to “do something”… to return, to wake up, come to her senses, etc. After all, this is what the story of the prodigal in scripture is all about. What the prodigal did, and the fact that the father was waiting with open arms. So we box God in with His own story, assuming that it is the only way a prodigal comes home, and our prayer for them becomes frustratingly limited. Then Jesus led me to the two scriptures above, and everything changed. Instead of praying for the prodigal to do something, I prayed for God to do what He clearly says He will do. Go.
That prodigal is now running after God, and I believe it is because He went after her. He went, because she needed Him to come after her, set her free, and bring her back from the other side. This is our God and this is what He does.
Jesus led His disciples to the other side, to a man who was demon possessed. But they had seen Him deliver people from demons before, so power over darkness was not what they were there to learn.
I wonder if they were meant to see the same thing I see when I follow Him to the other side in this story.
To Jesus, the one is always worth going after.
We tend to complicate what Jesus made very simple.
Some people just can’t come to Jesus. That’s ok. He’ll come to them.
God came to us and God goes after us.
May we never lose the wonder of that.