“When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him” (8:1). Not surprised, are we? A leper, a servant, many oppressed by demons, all came to Jesus and were healed. “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases’” (8:17). Instructions about following Christ, a boat and a storm stilled, and two more demon possessed men healed. Back in the boat to head home and a paralytic healed. Eating with tax collectors and sinners. And so many other healings.
The Pharisees were perplexed. They just couldn’t figure all this out. They were trapped in their own world of legalisms and formalistic religion. They were trying to put “a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment [but] the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made” (9:16). Isn’t it true? We work and we strive to do our own thing in religion, but in doing so we never get closer to God but farther from him. One disappointment leads to another. One failure leads to another. And we are never satisfied. We never find peace. Just like the Pharisees.
Jesus was doing something new. His words explained. His miracles testified. All pointed to the truth that “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
At peace with God! How great the blessing
In fellowship with him to be,
And from all stains of sin set free;
How rich am I such wealth possessing!
My soul has found a resting-place,
And I am now, through heavenly grace,
At peace with God, at peace with God. –Richard Slater, 1904