Jesus demands a reaction. When people encounter Him, whether during His physical ministry or today, we can’t face Him without some sort of response.
In Matthew 8, just after Jesus heals two demon-possessed men and sends the demons into a herd of pigs, which then run into the water and drown (v. 28-33), we see this interesting reaction:
Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (v. 34)
Inevitably, as so many passages of Scripture do these days, this verse draws my thoughts to today’s American Church. I just can’t help it! Almost daily, I see how different the Jesus of the Bible – and even the Jesus we preach – is from the Jesus we live.
When was the last time your church purposefully did something that they knew had the potential to drive people away? In my experience, most churches will do everything in their power to steer clear of such a situation, but we see over and over in Scripture that this is not how Jesus operates. He never avoids anything that might drive people away.
Now, it is true that He often found Himself in situations where people clamored for Him. In fact, He sometimes had to sneak away in the early morning hours to spend time alone with His Father because so many people were seeking His attention, but we see plenty of stories like the one in Matthew 8.
Jesus drove the demons into a herd of pigs. Maybe the pigs were important to the town’s economy. Maybe Jesus’ antics scared the townspeople. I don’t know. But I’m confident that Jesus knew He was going to drive people away with this stunt.
I’ve blogged on this before, but Jesus spoke in parables so people would not understand. (Matt. 13:13)
Rather than fight a revolution and rip the nation of Israel from the imperious claws of the Romans, Jesus died a criminal’s death for our sins. Not exactly the way to draw people in, is it?
The truth alienates people.
Jesus said, “…the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32), but He also said that people would hate us for following the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He also said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14)
My sincere hope is that we’ll stop focusing on what will draw people in, and start focusing on the Truth – Jesus.