Matthew 8:28-34 — Jesus Wants You to Have the Opportunity to Question Christianity

Posted: November 9, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew
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Matthew 8:28-34
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men

Details of the Christian faith. One of the things that I love about our faith is the fact that it is the only faith that couches itself in history. People in historical context. Events that can be compared to historical records outside of the Bible. Ours is a faith that can be tested against man’s reality. All other religions begin with fables or claims of historical fact that cannot be tested. Christianity begs you to do research. Those who understand our faith welcome your skepticism and call upon you to do the research. It is a reasonable faith. It is a real time faith that welcomes your questions. Why is that important? The fact that it is a faith that can be verified, and it is a faith that does not rely on the word of one main or some created legend, it is a faith that can be shared by reasonable men and a faith that can be shared by all. One of the historical facts that is in today’s passage, Matthew 8:28-34, is that there was actually a place called Gadara in the time of Jesus and its inhabitants were called the Gadarenes. Why is this important? Let us see. The passage begins with the statement that Jesus and the disciples arrived at the other side at the region of the Gadarenes. What does that mean? Why does Matthew mention the “region of the Gadarenes” and what purpose does that serve in what Matthew is trying to say here?

According to Wayne Blank in his devotional, “Gadarenes”, at http://www.keyway.ca/htm2003/20030210.htm, Mr. Blank says,
“Gadara was one of the Decapolis, or ‘Ten Cities,’ that were originally inhabited primarily by Greek people who settled in the region after the time of Alexander the Great’s conquest. After the Romans occupied the region from about 65 B.C., Gadara was made the capital of the Roman province of Peraea. Gadara was located east of the Jordan River on a mountain about 6 miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee. The people of Gadara were known as Gadarenes…” He continues, “They were still mostly Gentiles in the time of Christ, as indicated by their keeping of pigs…”

To me, the inclusion of this sentence in Matthew’s text is significant in several respects. First, it gives historical perspective to the story. Gadara being one of the ten cities of the Decapolis is something that can be verified via historical research into the Greek and Roman antiquity. Although the Bible does not need help, it certainly continues to prove the point of the historical veracity of the Bible and that the events of Jesus’ life did actually take place in places that you can go to and touch and feel. My wife and I have a friend from our life group that recently got to go Greece on a mission trip to serve missionaries who had come in from other countries for a conference. During the conference, as a nurse, she was a part of the team that checked on the health of the missionaries and their families. During her time there, she was able to do some sightseeing such as visiting the ruins of ancient cities mentioned in the New Testament such Philippi. The fact that she could stand where Paul, one of the great men of our faith, stood is not only awe-inspiring but it is also evidence of the historicity of our faith. The fact that this friend could visit the places where Paul preached and evangelized gives confidence to our faith. Though our faith does not depend on us visiting such places, for there are those who will never see the Holy Land or visit Philippi, it does give you confidence that our faith is one that can be verified. It occurred in the real time of human events. There are historical references outside the Bible that Jesus existed. There is ample evidence to support the reasonableness of our faith. All of that can get you 95% of the way to Jesus Christ, but faith must get you that last 5% of the way. Jesus was real. But the question you must come to answer is whether or not you believe that He is the Son of God and that He is the only way to the Father in heaven. That is the most important question that you will ever answer in your life. Your eternity hangs in the balance. However, our faith is one that welcomes your questions. It does not take blind faith in a fable as Hinduism and Buddhism do. It does not require that you accept blindly the vision revealed to only one man as so many other religions such as Islam do. To understand what Christ has done for us on the cross fully, the Christian faith almost begs you to investigate it. Blind faith based on feelings or coercion is not the way of the Christian faith. Our faith demands that you understand it, question it, and make up your mind.
Second, and as importantly, this passage is proof that Jesus took his ministry outside the traditional Jewish boundaries. The implication here is that the Good News of Jesus’ ministry was for everyone, the whole world, and not just his native Jewish nation. This is not to knock the Jewish nation in anyway because Jesus was a Jew. He was saddened by their unwillingness to be the light of the world as God’s chosen people. Thus, Jesus carrying the message to regions of Palestine that were not Jewish is significant. He was taking up the mantle of being the light of the world. A mantle that Christ’s church took seriously after his death and resurrection such that the example of his life and his teachings spread like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire. Jesus was spreading the good news of the kingdom to all who would hear it. If it were not for those who desired all to share in the kingdom of God, Christianity would be a small little sect of Judaism located in Palestine right now to this day. Jesus sets the example here that would be followed by his disciples. His command to go and make disciples at the end of this gospel was not without precedent. We see him on numerous occasions through this and the other gospels sharing the gospel outside the boundaries of Jewish society. Jesus, the Great Commission, was not asking his disciples to do anything that He had not already demonstrated to them. Jesus commands to do the same. Here, we see Him doing it. Later, we see his disciples doing it. Now, it is our turn. We have been shown by our Teacher.
The implication for you and me is that we have an example right here of how Jesus willingly took the news of God’s love to everyone even in regions where they worshiped other gods. We are, thus, called to share the Gospel anywhere, anytime, anyplace. We must share the gospel. It is not an option. It is a command. We have our example from Jesus himself. If we do not share the gospel, people cannot have the experience of asking questions about the faith. They cannot come to understand it. They cannot come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. They cannot come to love the fact that our faith is one that can be verified. They cannot know that our faith is one that welcomes your questions and your doubts. They cannot know the amazing changes that can be brought about through the Holy Spirit that give us hope and peace in knowing that we have been saved from the precipice of hell by the loving act of Jesus Christ on the cross. Let us be unashamed. Let us be bold. Let us share the gospel. It only makes sense that all should have the opportunity to know Jesus Christ.

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