I might have been shaking in my boots (or sandals). Jesus’ directions to his followers were thorough yet frightening. Why frightening? Because it was new territory for them. They had seen Jesus healing and teaching, and now he was kicking them out of the nest, so to speak. Jesus felt they were ready to take the Good News to the people of Israel. The lost ones.
Did they feel ready? Were they equipped? How would they know what to do? Sometimes we need to get pushed out of our comfort zone. It’s been said that great things never came from comfort zones. If we’re growing, we are most likely out of our comfort zone. If Jesus thought they were prepared, there should be no hesitancy. They will go. We should go, too.
Have you ever been short-staffed at work? Maybe it was a weather-related shortage and you pitched in for someone missing. Holidays were another time when people just didn’t show up for work if they didn’t already have time off arranged. But you remember the feeling of desperation. There was a lot to get done with only a few people. It wasn’t like you could just push a button and have immediate help at your disposal.
Jesus was seeing firsthand how hungry the people were for the truth. He saw how confused they were with the messages they were receiving. So many people were walking around sick, demon-possessed, and totally lost. They needed a Savior. We could say the same is true today. There are many walking around with affliction, not sure how they are going to afford to live, relying on their own power, and in desperate need of a Savior.
Do you need faith to be healed? It seems to be a common theme here. A couple of readings ago it was the faith of friends that healed the man with a mat. Today, the synagogue leader displayed great faith. He knew Jesus could bring his dear daughter back to life. Jesus has done many miraculous things, but we don’t hear of him raising people from the dead all that regularly. This leader’s faith was there despite not having seen an eyewitness account.
And what did you think about the woman who merely touched his clothes? That was crazy faith to think she could be healed without a touch from Jesus. But she was healed, and Jesus knew that his power had been called upon. He recognized her great faith and she was healed on the spot.
We’ve heard about fasting before. It’s a spiritual discipline that Jesus talked about here. We may also know that fasting is a natural expression of sorrow. Jesus was confronted with a very interesting question. Why didn’t his disciples fast?
Jesus used three examples to help explain. What do they all have in common? It’s important to look at the “appropriateness” of the ritual given the situation. Jesus first uses the bridegroom example. You aren’t very well going to fast during your party as newlyweds. Hopefully, this is not a sad or somber occasion. It is a time of rejoicing for the whole wedding party. Jesus is our bridegroom and the church is his bride. That imagery is used elsewhere in the Bible.
Are you a sinner? Of course, you’re thinking. Well, then Jesus came for you! We aren’t necessarily proud of our sinful nature, but we can be assured that Jesus’ arms are open wide to us.
Our reading today begins with Jesus calling Matthew, a tax collector to be one of his disciples. Tax collectors in that day were shrewd scoundrels, cheating people out of their money to make themselves rich. Yet, Jesus wanted Matthew in his group of guys. Of course, he did. Jesus said it himself, he didn’t come for those who were righteous but for those who know they are sinners.