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When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.  And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.”Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

(Matthew 8:1-3)

The Story
Jesus has just finished preaching the greatest sermon ever.  His philosophy is so radical and counter-influencial to the norms of the time and to the scribes’ powerless religiosity that the crowd responds with awe and amazement.  Christ’s message has made such an impact on the listeners that they become instant followers.  When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.

As the scene changes from the mountain to the valley, a new figure emerges.  The text does not indicate whether or not this man had heard the words of Christ on the mountain — it only describes him as a leper seeking healing.

The Question
The story begs the question: Could it be that there are those who follow Christ, are in His very presence, partake of the privilege that His presence provides: astonishment, and yet miss the greatest blessing that His presences ought to bring?

The Differences
It is important to note the difference between the leper and the crowd.  Both of them are in the presence of Christ, but the crowd is following Him.  In other words, the crowd has been with Him.  The leper, on the other hand, is only now coming to Jesus.  The crowd is following Christ because they are astonished.  The leper is coming to Christ because he wants to worship Him.

The Lessons
It is possible to “follow” Christ, be in His presence, and yet not worship Him.  Although worship and awe are often closely associated, it is dreadful to mistake them for being the same thing.  To be in awe of God is not worship.  It can be part of worship.  It can lead to worship.  It can result from worship, but seeking the presence of God and following purely out of astonishment misses the bigger picture.  It is true, God craves our presence more than anything else in this world.  He proved this very point by cashing out heaven’s bank account for this very possibility.  However, more important than being in the presence of Christ is worshipping Him — taking advantage of the opportunity that being in His presence brings.  God desires our presence because His presence is supposed to transform us from sick people, to those who walk in newness of life.

The ultimate difference between the leper who worships and the crowd who seeks Christ’s presence is that the leper’s outcome is transformation while the crowd is simply more astonished.  To be content with astonishment — even the astonishment of Christ — is to miss out in the greater blessing that God seeks to bestow.

The Appeal 
Seventh-day Adventists need to evaluate whether our worship is producing personal transformation.  Otherwise, no matter how much we talk about Jesus, how much we claim that we are in His presence, how strongly we believe ourselves to be His followers; we are slowly dying of thirst while in the very presence of the Spring of Living Water.