To be honest, fitting these two chapters together in my mind is not working well, so here is my convoluted thought process. Hope you can follow it?
These passages stand out to me to be talking about two things, being a child of God, and the ministry of Jesus.
1. Children of God
As children of God, we get a lot of things – we inherit eternal life, relationship with God, etc. But as children we must be wary of things that try to separate us from the unconditional love of God (which, coincidentally, will never actually separate us). We have to watch for false teachers who try to lead us astray (for which it is good we’re doing this whole bootcamp thing this summer. Good one, Allan), be careful to not get caught up in judging others, and (this one hits most close to home for me) we examine our hearts to ensure we are continuing to trust and follow Christ.
Why would people even try to call upon God in the end times when they weren’t followers during life? Well, some of them probably thought they were. So what is the difference? Jesus says they were not “doing the will of my father who is in heaven” (7:21). It’s actually kind of horrifying, if you think about it. Whenever I read that part, I start second guessing everything I believe in – that is probably my worst nightmare, getting to the end and finding out I did it wrong. It then makes the next passage all the more important…
I absolutely love this part … mostly because of the songs I sang as a child … but also just because it reminds me that by hearing the words and obeying them (7:24), I am building my house on that rock, not the sand (literally, can you even build on sand? Engineering friends? IS THIS POSSIBLE). It is like a glimmer of hope at the end of all these cautionary “tales”.
2. Ministry of Jesus
Just like any other kid who grew up in the church, a lot of times when I read these stories I’m just like “oh yea. that happened. coo.” and then move on without actually taking in the amazing power Jesus demonstrates. Imagining these things happening in real life – like a leper becoming clean – is just mind blowing.
What gets me in all these healings is that those who are healed appear to have complete faith that Jesus could cure them. Even the demons in 8:28-34 knew he could cast them out and were in fear of it. This is another demonstration of the authority Jesus had, as the people noted at the end of chapter seven in how he preached to them (7:28-29).
Faith, in fact, is what the disciples themselves lack when Jesus calms the storm. As a child of God, I know that in the middle of storms I often play the disciple here and go running to God saying “Save me Lord, I am perishing,” and then he just looks at what is going on around me and clears it all up.
Yes, the cost of following Jesus is great, we are willing to give up all of our earthly possessions and relationships to follow him, to deny our nature and instead bear fruit following the will of God – but it’s oh so worth it to be called a child of the Father. The Father who will calm our storms, who is there in the midst of the darkest nights.
Hopefully you were able to follow that, fellow brothers and sisters blogging along with me. Today is more than halfway done your first week – YOU’RE DOING IT! May you continue to persevere.