[After feeding the crowd of 4000,] Jesus sent the people home, and he got into a boat and crossed over to the region of Magadan.
— Matthew 15:39 NLT
Sometimes religious insiders — people like me and other church-goers — get to thinking we have the inside track on things. We know the Scriptures. We know the songs in worship assemblies. We know the Sunday School lessons. We know the church lingo. Then along comes a series of events in Jesus' ministry that duly humbles us.
This whole series of events starts with an accusation about religious nitpicking over external signs of purity (Matthew 15:2). But Jesus says, and the episodes show, that purity and faithfulness are heart issues. Jesus is much more widely received and embraced in non-Jewish territory at this time in his ministry than he was ever embraced by the Jewish religious establishment. Those who are considered "not clean" by many Jews repeatedly prove their hunger for Jesus, God's grace, and faith.
For me, these stories are powerful reminders why we must pursue unchurched seekers and continually add new Christians to our church family. They ask questions that need to be asked. They break traditional rules so we have to examine them again to see if they're biblical. This type of new Christian often exhibits a more passionate and zealous faith. I don't know about you, but I really need to be around that kind of faith.
Holy and righteous Father, thank you for passionate seekers of your truth. Use me as an instrument to bring them closer to you. Use them to remind me and teach me about the passionate joy of salvation and of faith that won't let go of your grace. In the name of my Savior, Jesus, I pray. Amen.