When reading in Matthew 8 today, there were some familiar stories with a new understanding. There are three healings by Jesus for those who boldly approached.
The outcast leper….The authoritative centurion…Peter’s humble mother-in-law
They approached in bold faith, acknowledging Jesus as healer. Jesus’ responded by touching the diseased. The leper was an outcast, but still approached with his request. Jesus touches leper, knowing that no one else would. The enemy centurion (so to speak because Romans and Jews didn’t get along) approached with his request. He healed the centurion’s servant just by saying the words and because the amazing soldier’s faith. In Peter’s home, his mother in law request was unspoken but her faith had preceded her. Jesus touched Mary and she got up and served him.
They all approached with great faith, they asked Jesus to heal, and He touched. He spoke and people were healed. The point is they knew... they believed that Jesus could heal. They asked, Jesus touched. The other thing is Jesus was accessible. He came down from the mountain to meet each of them where they were and took them to a place of healing. A place of long-awaited restoration. That is what Jesus does.
The next few verses deal with following Jesus. When following anything it takes dedication. You pour yourself into whatever it is that you are following. There is a sacrifice to be made, there will be times or uncomfortable seasons. Following Jesus is will not be comfortable or easy. It will cost us, but the rewards are far greater than the sacrifices.
When Jesus calmed the storm the disciples were amazed. Why? Why would they think that this was too hard for Jesus? Had they never seen him command nature before? After all, he created it. I understand how human reasoning would be overwhelming their circumstances. That is hard to do when the storms are in full force. Especially when Jesus was seen sleeping…on the job. All they had to do was say, “Lord, save us!” At last, faith spoke. You know sometimes our life storms overwhelm us and we focus on our circumstances. God’s silence in those circumstances is deafening. But have we asked? Have we approached the throne of grace with a simple prayer of faith? Jesus calmed the storm once asked.
Matthew continues with the story of the demons and the pigs. Two demon-possessed men met Jesus on his way. They knew He had authority. This just popped off the page today. They are the ones who made the first move with their challenging question, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” They were exerting their power in front of Jesus, but in reality they are powerless in his presence. They believed that Jesus had power, but didn’t they know that He could take them out with a word? Jesus sends the demons into a herd of pigs, the demons to the unclean. The One word command “Go!” puts them into their place. That’s power, that’s authority. That’s what Jesus does. He puts the demons in their place. He rights the wrongs. He sets all things into place. His power stands, His authority rules. Believe it, now act like it.
Today’s readings are a reminder that we must believe, we must ask, we must act in faith. We are overcomers. We are salt and light. We have God’s power living in us. Let’s go forward with this knowledge. No more cowering in the corner of the boat. Follow.