An untouchable man barged into Jesus’ presence. His skin the color of snow stained with dust. The nerve of that man…
A uniformed man marched into Jesus’ presence, talking about how when he tells someone to do something, it gets done. Really? What nerve…
Crazy people came screaming at Jesus, demanding answers. What? Who do you think you’re talking to?
I read Matthew chapter eight and I am a little uncomfortable seeing how people are approaching Jesus. They all want something from Him. They all need something from Him. They do not appear to see anything wrong with getting in Jesus’ way, inconveniencing Him, and slowing Him down from getting to wherever He might be trying to go. I mean, come on! Can’t you give Him a break? Haven’t you been told that it’s rude to go up to strangers and ask for things from them?
I don’t suppose I think in these terms all that often. Jesus, inconvenienced? Well, His whole life on earth was a giant inconvenience for Him, was it not? I have always seen people coming to Him and begging for Him to do something as just normal. It’s just what happens when Jesus is around. People crowd around Him and want His touch, His smile, His attention. They want His power.
Then I started thinking: what if people were constantly wanting things from me so much that I couldn’t even go to a friends house without sick people coming up to me? What if everywhere I went people were crowding around me? How would I feel?
On my worst day I might feel frustrated. Overwhelmed. Annoyed.
On my best day I might feel delightfully drained.
On either of those days, I don’t know how long I would last before attempting to bang my brains into unconsciousness on the nearest wooden door. That way I could escape the constant neediness of everyone around me. So when I look at this chapter (and so many other chapters in Jesus’ life) and see how much people are asking of Jesus, I feel for Him. At first, I get a little annoyed at the people. Then I listen to Jesus’ reaction to these folks and I change my tune a little bit.
Jesus granted these people’s requests. He heals them of leprosy. He casts out the demons. He brings their friends back from the brink of death. Jesus was not turned off by the people’s requests. In fact, at one point, he praises the Army officer for his faith.
When people came in faith, Jesus extended grace.
These folks were in need. They knew that no one else could heal them and they dared to hope that Jesus would be willing to listen to their requests. Desperation drove them to boldly step out in front of Jesus and ask for Him to intervene in their darkest pain. Their desperation gave them the courage to boldly ask the Son of God to change their path. To work a miracle. To give them hope.
Jesus said yes.
Do you need hope? A miracle? A different path?
Jesus says yes.
We all have our own pains and struggles that we are dealing with. They might be secret or they might be painfully public. While I cannot claim to know how God will answer you when you request something from Him, I do know that He wants us to ask Him. God wants us to pester Him and inconvenience Him. He wants us to boldly step in front of Him and ask for help, for transformation.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
- Matthew 7:7-11
May we all be bold enough to inconvenience our God with our requests for both healing and direction. May we all have the faith of those beggars that stepped in Jesus’ way.