Letting go of what makes us comfortable is one of the hardest things we can do. As humans, we hold on to whatever we can that reminds us that we are not alone. In this passage, the townspeople find such reassurance in Jesus’ presence that when it is time for him to leave, they beg him not to go. As a high school Junior preparing to go to college, I am experiencing this first hand. I am paralyzed with the fear of leaving my familiar bed, my amazing friends and my supportive family behind and taking on the big scary world alone. I’m sure that when the time comes for me to actually take that step, a part of me will want to just call the whole thing off and live at home forever. This is the same place the townspeople are in when Jesus announces he has to go. Why would anyone want such a reassuring and healing presence to leave?
It was Jesus’ response to them that taught me a huge lesson. He said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent”. For years people have been telling me that fear of letting go is “holding me back”, and a part of me was OK with always being sheltered as long as I was comfortable. But when I read this, I realized that in a way, always being safe and comfortable is selfish. Had Jesus stayed in that one town for the rest of his life, sure, some people would have been better off, but how many other people’s lives would not have touched by Jesus? Likewise, what if my jump into the daunting “real world” ends up starting a career that changes thousands of people’s lives? Jesus’ wisdom teaches us to always be moving and pushing ourselves, even if it is not the easiest thing to do. You don’t know how many people’s lives can be changed by one painful step you take. Great things never come from the comfort zone.