A call to choose best over better
Have you ever experienced missing out on something indisputably important? I sure have. I remember not being able to attend the awesome wedding of two people I look up to. And it was all just for some summer swimming with my friends. Obviously, swimming was a better choice than just staying at home, it was a lot of fun. But I failed to pick, what was in my eyes, the best choice I could have made in that day. I chose better over best.
I remember an interesting story in (Matthew 8:26-34) about Jesus, two demon-possessed men and the people of the country of Gadarenes. Here is my summary: Jesus met two demon-possessed men. One demon-possessed man requested to be cast out into the herd of pigs. Jesus casts out the demons. The demons entered the pigs and the swines drown as they rush into the sea. The herdsmen nearby told the story to the people of the city. And the people of the city ask Jesus to leave.
Try reading the story for yourself. And if you have read it, you might also be asking, “Why?” Why was Jesus asked to leave after performing such a miracle?
MISSING THE MIRACLE
They prefer pigs to persons, swine to the Savior.D.A. Carson
We learn in (Matthew 8:29) that the demon possessed man inhabited the tombs and was so fierce that no one could pass that way. In fact in (Mark 5:3-5) we see that this man was neither bound by shackles nor subdued by anyone as he cried out among the tombs day and night. Just think of that hostile stray dog from your street that does not let you pass by its territory. Jesus dealing with this man was of great benefit for the people. But the people in the country of Gadarenes—the setting of the story—completely missed out on what Jesus did! There was a miracle, yet there was no wonder. No amazement, only fear and dismay. An exposure of what the people actually valued
Are we not like those people at times? We cannot deny God’s working in a particular situation, we can clearly see God’s hand at work right before our eyes, yet we utterly miss it. It simply passes by like it was nothing.
Yes, the people of Gadarenes saw how Jesus worked, but they lacked eyes of faith to see its actual worth. There could be a number of causes for this, but what I would like to focus on is this reason: The people picked the pigs over the Savior. As Donald Arthur Carson puts it, “They prefer pigs to persons, swine to the Savior.”
MISSING THE PERSON
“Thus, with the misapprehension of God’s work comes also the neglecting of the person of Christ.”
Seeing Jesus Christ himself was a privilege, this was the Jesus who healed a leper in (Matthew 8:1-4), who healed a Gentile centurion’s servant in (Matthew 8:5-13), who calmed the raging seas in (Matthew 8: 23-27). It was not just a mere missing of a wondrous miracle but it was a pathetic failure of seeing Christ for who He is—the long awaited King and Savior. Thus, with the misapprehension of God’s work comes also the neglecting of the person of Christ.
Was it out of fear of Christ’s power that the countrymen asked Christ to leave? Maybe, we cannot be too certain. Or, the reason that I strongly pound, the people were fearing the cost of seeing Christ’s person and power. Because of the miraculous work Jesus did, the people of Gadarenes just lost about two thousand pigs. This meant financial loss.
But the real loss was experienced by the people. The demons knew better. Jesus’ person and power was recognized. But of course they only knew the truth, they failed to love it. The demons knew what was true, but it would not be something they could have affections for. The people of Gadarenes failed doing both—seeing Christ’s person and power, and at the same time savoring it for all its worth.
A PLEA TO CHOOSE BEST OVER BETTER
Is Jesus Christ worth losing a few herds of pigs in our lives today? We may not have actual swines, but I know that at some point we hold on to certain things at the expense knowing God further. We choose to have our pigs instead of our Savior. It may be ungodly habits, immoral things, sinful relationships, hidden pride, sheer self-sufficiency, you name it. So let me ask you, why did you choose the pigs?
“In our perception, better seems to be good enough. But better might not actually be what is.”
Every day we make choices and such choices are not necessarily between good and bad, but often times between good, better, and best. In our perception, better seems to be good enough. But better might not actually be what is. Just look at the people of Gadarenes who thought that the pigs were a better option over Christ. But I plea with you to not choose better, choose what is best. Choosing God will always be the best choice you can make. That does not just mean recognizing the truth but to also have your heart jump because of the deep affections you feel for it.
And in order for this to happen we must prayerfully seek God’s grace so that our hearts might lay claim to faith. We must ask earnestly for another miracle for God to do in us. And should we choose to act we need His enabling.
This year don’t choose the pigs.