Monday, April 15, 2013

The Morning After: Jesus' Authority over Men (Matthew 8:18-22)

Jesus has the authority to demand our full devotion. Not part of our devotion, but all of it. That was the point of our sermon on Sunday. Jesus heals people, but then He calls people to follow Him in a radical way. That calling comes on the heals of a busy ministry. The popularity of Jesus had made it difficult to travel or get alone. And sometimes, Jesus wanted to go off by Himself. He wanted some peace and quiet. He wanted to pray. He wanted to be close to His closest followers.

This ministry of teaching and healing was very tiring. And so, we are told in verse 18 of Matthew 8 that Jesus intends to go to the other side (the implication is the other side of the Sea of Galilee). He was getting ready to jump into a boat when a teacher of the law approaches Jesus with the most promising offer. He tells Jesus that he would follow Him anywhere He goes.

It might seem like a promising offer, but in reality, it is an offer that flows from a Spirit of Arrogance. His offer comes off in this way: "Teacher, I have a great offer for you. It's your lucky day. I'm willing to be your understudy. I'm willing to follow you anywhere you go." He wants to be Jesus' sidekick. In response, Jesus informs Him that it is good that he is willing to go anywhere because they have no place to sleep tonight.

Probably as Jesus is responding to this man, another man comes up and tells Jesus that he is willing to submit to His Lordship, he just wants time to go bury his father first. Most people I have talked to see Jesus statement ("Let the dead bury the dead") to be very harsh and insensitive. But we have to understand what is going on in the text to fully grasp why Jesus said this. That phrase is often used to mean "let me get my inheritance." This man wanted to follow Jesus, but he comes with a Spirit of Delay. He wanted to enjoy a few more years of independence. He wanted to make sure his financial future was taken care of before he jumped into that boat with Jesus.

Jesus' response is not meant to be taken as a callous look at death. It is meant to be a wake up call to stop making excuses. Not many people I know think they will die this week. But the reality is that hundreds of thousands of people will die this week around the world. Jesus' words of not delaying are just as valid today as they were then. His desire is for us to follow today. Not tomorrow. Today.

If you want to read my notes or listen to the sermon, you can find it HERE

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