Jesus commanded them “to go over to the other side (Matthew 8:18).” This command elicited a crisis of faith for many of those who started following him. Crossing the Sea of Galilee required a multi-day trip on the sea. Whatever plans they may have made for the next few days would need to be set aside. Whatever responsibilities they had they would need to make other arrangements for. Furthermore, the territory to which they were going was primarily Gentile territory, a loose confederation of Hellenistic city-states that few Jews would travel to. Jesus’ command created a crisis of for many who gathered around him that day.
Jesus’ commands often create a crisis of faith in our lives too. Oswald Chambers in his classic, My Utmost for His Highest, said: “God’s order has to work up to a crisis in our lives because we will not heed the gentler way. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him, and we begin to debate; then He produces a providential crisis where we have to decide – for or against [Him], and from that point the ‘Great Divide’ begins.”
For some in the crowd that day this was the providential crisis of faith that Jesus orchestrated to elicit them to go deeper with him. Some would refuse and go no further. Others would go. Some would stay in the shallow waters of apathy toward Jesus. Others would go deeper to do ministry with him. We must never treat our walk with Jesus as some settled thing. We can do that with our salvation, for once received we cannot lose it. However, when it comes to our walk with Jesus, as soon as you think you have surrendered all, he presents you with some new order that challenges you and makes you decide.
Chambers went on to say, “If the crisis has come to you on any line [of Scripture], surrender your will to Him absolutely and irrevocably.” Will you go with Jesus today to the other side, surrendering yourself to his command to follow him wherever he will lead you?
Next week we will at least begin to look at how two people responded to Jesus’ command to go to the other side.