Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 34
Matthew:8:18-22 The Cost of Following Jesus
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:8:14-17 Jesus Heals Many
In recent devotions we have explored the idea that the Father God is directing the Son of God Jesus what to do and say, the Son Jesus obediently does just that, the Father confirms to us that this is the promise in the flesh fulfilled through signs and wonders. The obedience of Jesus is on display again, this time in a much more subtle way that for most readers goes unnoticed.
What is God doing?
We begin with the command to depart unto the other side. He is picking up and going because He is being told from the Father to go. There is an entire sea between here and there. Why though would He separate Himself so abruptly from what is developing as multitudes of people are becoming interested? Is that not the prime objective? Notice? No the prime objective for Jesus is to obey God. So the question more properly is why would the Father have Him leave from a multitude? It is an important question be cause we will see the Father direct this often. The answer may in part lead us to question the crowds motives for coming.
The next thing to notice is that the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. This is the King of All Heaven and Earth after all that we are talking about and the Father is commanding Him to do this. Obedience is one thing when it costs oneself very little, something entirely different when it costs even the most basic creature comforts.
What is man doing?
"I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest"
One might think so, one might intend for it to be so, one might see it in their best interest and within their ability, but has one truly considered the cost. Remember that our nature is to corrupt truth in various ways to various degrees; so it is true as well with our perception/expectation of the cost of doing right. The cost more than anything physical is the cost of complete obedience. And He is saying this to a scribe who will likely have to obey in ways contrary to his present understanding of the laws and oral traditions, the moral pillow he fanatically lays his head comfortably upon.
Wouldn't it have been nice to have been known as the first scribe to have followed Jesus? Wouldn't it have been encouraging for other scribes to consider doing likewise having taken notice? Wouldn't the scribe come in to be useful in the many hard discussions Jesus is soon to have with the many other scribes? I imagine that there were disciples nearby that were considering this scribe as a big catch for Jesus, a good tiding of good catches to come.
It is of note that Jesus does not actually say no you can't come, it is given to the man to decide if the cost when fully considered personally is too high. It is also of note that at one point most all of the disciples other than the twelve stop following Jesus because of His insistence on His own death.
"Suffer me first to go and bury my father"
This is from a disciple we don't know who. Again, if the topic is obedience and the personal cost of obedience then even the leaving of a parent's burial to other family members is a possible obedience. It seems like a harsh lesson, but it is a valid concern to consider.
Are we always expected to leave a dead parents funeral behind? Well that would be situational I believe. When the ground team has orders to move out and they are moving out this moment I suggest so. Is it a lack of concern by Jesus about the dead? No, because He shows concern for the dead at other times. Is it really a dishonor to a parent not to be there? Perhaps so if not for the ultimate reason that in this situation the Lord has directed you otherwise. Could the situation be properly addressed with the family? I suppose so somehow. Could the whole affair be offered by the disciple more as an excuse for not obeying? Certainly so, it is in our nature, but we do not have all the facts behind this case, that would be between the disciple and the Lord. If the only other brother was a disciple too should the dad be left to rot? Well you see how situational this consideration can get. It is left to each individual what best to determine.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
"Let the dead bury their dead"
The disciple and the scribe were left with a whole lot to think about. We do not know what they actually ended up doing and it may not be important to the understanding of the teaching. I believe the meaning to be counting the cost of obedience; counting as in weighing, cost as in sacrifice. In every obedience their is a cost associated and one does not enter a certain role of disciple without first weighing out what that cost is beforehand.
The purpose of this weighing isn't to heap guilt and resignation upon us, it is to come to a better realization of the size and scope and urgency of the mission and task at hand. Modern readers do not typically think in terms of cost because they are not thinking in terms of obedience, they are thinking in terms reward and blessing for simply being there in the group. Instead, the cost at times can be quite severe and the chosen inability to pay such a cost most revealing. However, it is never as costly nor severe as the cost paid for us by the obedience taken on by our savior Jesus Christ Himself.
Next: devotion:Matthew:8:23-27 Jesus Calms the Storm