Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34 (NRSV)
When Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother in law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases." ...
When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, "What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, "If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine." And he said to them, "Go!" So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.
I am struck by the dichotomy in today's scripture reading.
On the one hand, we read about a community who experiences the miraculous healing of Peter's mother-in-law and responds positively, bringing all of their sick and dis-eased to Jesus for healing.
Then on the other hand, we have another community who experiences the miraculous healing power of Jesus and fiercely banishes him from their town.
While this might look and sound crazy, it is truly how many people respond to Jesus--either you love or hate him, embrace or push him away, invite him in or beg him to leave.
It is clear to me that people who push Jesus away are desperately in need of the good news that Jesus came to bring! They need to know--and believe--that God loves them passionately and sent Jesus into the world to die on the cross to make atonement for their sin and gift them with eternal life!
During this Advent Season as we "watch and pray," may we also be compelled to confess our sin and to share the good news that Jesus saves and He saves to the utmost!
Let us pray: Oh God, I am sorry for all of the times that I have pushed Jesus out of my life. I know that it is only Him who is able to heal all of my dis-eases. Please help me to welcome Jesus with all of my heart, today and always. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, “Come to Jesus” @ http://bit.ly/JVhaLta