Matthew Chapter 8 is a poignant parable for our time. It captures Jesus in the immediate aftermath of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus personifies in His actions (healing a leper and welcoming a Gentile) the application of what He had just finished teaching. Initially, people are thrilled. They bring to Jesus all their sick, hurting and outcasts.
However, by the end of the chapter we read, “all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.”
As it turned out, the “idea” of Jesus was comforting and desirable, but when the people discovered the full “person” of Jesus – it terrified them. His power and authority, coupled with the high cost of being His disciple were simply too much.
As you read the New Testament you see Jesus create crucibles that sifted consumers from authentic disciples. When we are faced with a similar crucible – between getting what we want from Jesus or surrendering to the fullness of Jesus Himself, it will reveal the category we fall into: Fan or Follower.
Maybe this challenging season is a true gift to the Church. What do we see when we look into the mirror? Are we part of the crowd asking Jesus to leave when the cost of discipleship becomes too much, or do we echo the Apostle Paul who wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”? – Galatians 2:20
The consumer life or the crucified life? The cosmic irony is that only that later actually leads to life.