Learning the priorities of Jesus (Matthew 8:28-34)

We can see that Jesus was prepared to take his disciples through a storm in order that he would come to a place where two very needy individuals needed his help. Is it not the case that we find ourselves being used by Jesus after we have come through a storm? It is possible that the spot where they landed was not a place that the disciples would have liked because it was Gentile territory, out of their comfort zones. In the storms that come our way we may find ourselves somewhere we do not like, where we may be tested in unexpected ways, but I suspect when that happens Jesus has taken us to a place where we can see his amazing grace in action bringing mercy to those in need of it.

The place where the boat landed was Gentile country. We can see that is the case because there was a herd of many pigs there. Indeed, it may have been very close to an encampment of Roman soldiers because it has been suggested that the pigs were a source of food for them. As far as Gentiles were concerned, we should recall how Matthew began his Gospel – he referred to Jesus as the son of Abraham. He was the descendant of Abraham in the sense that he would fulfil the divine promise to Abraham that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. So here is Jesus about to bring blessing to members of another nation, to individuals who were not Jews.

We should observe who it was from this Gentile community that Jesus wanted to meet. Whatever else we make of the choice, the contact points to the compassion of Jesus. He obviously cared deeply about those demoniacs. And as we look at them coming out of the tombs we are to remind ourselves that these two individuals had been part of the discussion and plans between the members of the Trinity before the universe was made. Jesus would have observed their approach towards him in a very different manner than his disciples probably did. They would have seen a threat, but Jesus saw triumphs of grace.

I suppose we are to view these two men as extreme sinners – violent, demon-possessed and living in isolation. Yet we must remember that while they were born sinful they were not born in the state they now found themselves. They had become like this because they had lived sinful lives. Slowly over the years they descended into sin and this is where they are now. Who can say where starting a sinful practice will take us? Who can say where a life of sin will take us? But wherever it has taken us, Jesus can find us.

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