Summary: It's interesting to me that Jesus called His disciples to leave the crowd and His disciples and they experience some spiritual warfare as they cross to the other side of the lake. Why would Jesus miss this opportunity, when He had a crowd gathered?
Part 10 - Matthew 8:18-34 - WHEN JESUS SKIPS OUT ON CHURCH, YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS WRONG!
I remember as a young student Pastor being invited to a Church for afternoon tea. They said they wanted to pray for me. What I didn't realise is that they wanted to pray for me to be their Pastor. At the end of the morning tea, one of the Elders of the Church said "What are you intending to preach about tonight?" I almost choked because I didn't realise that they wanted me to preach! Fortunately, I had preached in the morning at a different Church and although I didn't have my notes, I did have my Bible and was able to preach the same message, but for a moment, as the crowd gathered, I JUST WANTED TO RUN.
When people would ring me up in the Whitsundays and say that they weren't going to Church because they were going fishing, I sometimes thought of replying "Yeah, me too!" just to see what the reaction would be to the Pastor skipping out on Church.
So what is it with Jesus, as the crowd gathers around Him by the lake? He gets into a boat and goes across to the other side, no doubt leaving the crowd wondering what on earth He was doing!
Matthew 8:18 says, "When Jesus saw the crowd around Him, He instructed His disciples to cross to the other side of the lake."
Now why did Jesus do this? Anybody else would have been thrilled to see an opportunity to speak to an incredible crowd but Jesus just wants to cross to the other side of the lake. What is it with Jesus? He tells the man He healed of leprosy to keep quiet about it. Now as a crowd gathers, He is avoiding them. I have trouble enough getting people to come to Church. JESUS HAS TROUBLE STAYING WITH THE CROWD. That's probably a good description of Jesus, one who doesn't run with the crowd.
Jesus goes to great lengths to help people who have been demonised. Now there were others who needed help but this seems to be a special trip. Jesus is more concerned with the individual that with the crowd. Somehow even in a crowd, He can pick me out and minister to me personally or come to me in the quiet places of the morning to turn up and express His love for me. I love that! Perhaps I need to be less concerned with the crowd and more concerned with the individual who needs my help too. Is that what you are asking me, Lord?
It's interesting to me that Jesus called His disciples to leave the crowd and His disciples and they experience some spiritual warfare as they cross to the other side of the lake. I need to look at this further because it is related to the subject of demons and I tend to shy away from this subject even though it is mentioned often in the Bible.
Sometimes I am sure that Jesus skips Church because He is edged out by the crowd who are looking for other things and don't really know Him or because of their blatant sin. I know that I'm not so Holy and Righteous either. So often I go to Church with the idea of getting something from God rather than giving to God my worship and being receptive to His Holy Spirit for ministry to others around me. I'm sure Jesus must say sometimes, "I'd rather skip Church this morning and go where I can really make a difference!" but somehow He strives with us, His Church, as long as we are open to Him. It is His idea that we gather together in His Name and He is in the midst. It is His idea that we go with Him into the week and learn to be His Church, on the other side of the lake also, if the analogy isn't too stretched. He believes in me and loves me, so much that He is willing to make some necessary changes in focus. Thanks Lord. I really want to see things from Your point of view, especially when it comes to not simply running with the crowd.
God bless you Church as you are willing to "go over to the other side of the lake" (and yes I realise that in our society "Crossing over" has an entirely different connotation than what I mean here!) when Jesus calls you to do so, away from the glamour of the crowd and into what seems to be the pigsty of the kingdom.