Sometimes in the swell of our emotions, we make promises we don’t mean. On one occasion, two individuals approached Jesus and declared they would follow Him wherever He went.
But Jesus’ response to them indicated that their hearts were more devoted to comfort and to family than to Him (Matt. 8:19-22). It happened in Jesus’ day, and it happens in ours.
We’ve all done it. Sometimes we’ll express our spiritual desires in terms that really boil down to boasts:
- I’ll have my quiet time every morning for the rest of my life.
- I’m willing to follow God wherever He leads me.
- I will love people more and need them less.
Overwhelmed by the moment, we’ll express our feelings in terms of commitments we’d like to do. But often, we come to regret our words.
The problem is we’re regretting the wrong thing.
Kursi—The Stage for Revealing Priorities
After Jesus’ conversation with the two Jews who vowed to follow Him anywhere, Jesus and His disciples sailed east across the Sea of Galilee to Gentile territory. They landed perhaps at modern Kursi:
- Matthew refers to this site as “the country of the Gadarenes” (Matt. 8:28).
- Mark and Luke describe the location in more general terms, as “the country of the Gerasenes” (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26).
- This refers to the city of Gerasa (modern Jerash), a large, Greco-Roman city some miles away from the eastern shore.
After landing in this Gentile territory, Jesus immediately encountered two men possessed by a legion of demons and cast them out of the men and into a herd of swine. When the pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the Sea of Galilee and drowned, the entire town “implored Him to leave their region” (Matt. 8:34).
First Things Last
The people felt more concern over the loss of their livelihood than the restoration of the men who were possessed. Like the Jews across the lake, these Gentiles near Kursi held other things as more important than following Jesus.
Discipleship is anything that causes what is believed in the heart to have demonstrable consequences in our daily life. —Eugene Peterson
While we probably would never admit to having higher priorities in pigs than in people, our commitments to comfort and even to our family often betray a devotion that sinks to the same level (Luke 14:26).
To love the Lord with all our hearts means that Christ should have no rivals in our life. So as we follow Christ today, let us commit to nothing before our devotion to Him.
That includes our creature comforts, our livelihoods, our fears, or even our family ties.