Last Sunday, my pastor pointed out that being confronted with the gospel of Jesus Christ can lead to either the softening OR the hardening of men’s hearts. In my reading in the book of Matthew today, I saw this portrayed in stunning fashion.
In Matthew 8, Jesus and His disciples arrived in the region of the Gadarenes, where Jesus drove out demons from two demon-possessed men. The demons begged Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs, which then rushed down a steep bank into a lake and were drowned. The sheep tenders reported this in the nearby town. “Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.” That’s the response of the hardened heart.
In Matthew 14, the very day after Jesus had miraculously fed a crowd of at least 5,000, He and His disciples came to Gennesaret. Verses 35 and 36 tell us: “And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged to him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.” What a contrast to the response of the Gadarenes!
I believe an encounter with Jesus always demands a response. Some may say, “I don’t believe in miracles, or demons, or faith healing.” But at some point in our lives, the question is not so much what we DON’T believe, it’s what we DO believe in. Joshua put it so well: “Choose you this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”