“Then those who grew up ‘in the faith’ but had no faith will find themselves out in the cold, outsiders to grace and wondering what happened.” Matthew 8:12 (MSG)
After reading through the chapter today, I took a step back from the text and mentally outlined the events that are described. There are several brief exchanges between Jesus and various people:
- A leper: (social outcast, diseased, unwanted) Jesus touches and heals him.
- A Roman Officer: (oppressor, enemy, invader, outsider) Jesus compliment him on his faith and heals his servant.
- A religious scholar & follower: Jesus offers a “curt” rebuke and questions the man’s motivation.
- A “follower”: Jesus reprimands him for his excuses
- Disciples: Jesus reprimands them for their lack of faith
- Demons: (enemy, dark, evil) Jesus graciously grants them their request to embody the pigs, to the ire (and expense) of the locals
What struck me as I went through the list is that Jesus’ exchanges were the exact opposite of what I must honestly say I see myself doing. Jesus was gracious and kind to the people I would have avoided or to whom I would have been harsh. He was gracious even with demons. The people to whom I would have catered and tread lightly so as to not hurt their feelings or create a stir were the very people he was tough with. He got in the face of “his” people, the people that were following Him.
Ouch. As I think about it, my life seems to exemplify the exact opposite of Jesus’ example. Today, I’m thinking hard about how I relate and respond to those around me. I say I want to be like Jesus, but I have a long way to go. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.