FOLLOW THE LEADER
Loving Father, I am many things to many people, but in your sight, I am your child. Thank you, Lord.
Read MATTHEW 8:14–22
Jesus Heals Many
14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“He took up our infirmities
and bore our diseases.”[a]
The Cost of Following Jesus
18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
- Matthew 8:17 Isaiah 53:4 (see Septuagint)
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Imagine being by the lake with Jesus. He is getting into a boat, extends his hand to you and says, ‘Follow me’. How do you feel and respond?
If the Son of Man has no place to lay his head (v 20), does that mean that his followers are also called to abandon the securities of home? Many Christians have thought so: the movement of desert monasticism in the third to seventh centuries was prompted by the belief that this and other radical sayings of Jesus were not limited to his own setting.1 Yet it appears that Peter still had a house in Capernaum (v 14) and other references throughout the Gospel indicate that Jesus was dependent on the hospitality of his followers.2 So what did Jesus mean? And what does this mean for us?
The key point is not how Jesus’ disciples are called to follow him, but whom they follow. Matthew attests that Jesus’ ministry fulfills scriptural prophecy (v 17), a theme he repeats throughout the Gospel.3 The many healings and expulsions confirm his identity as God’s Messiah. Accordingly, Jesus has continuing authority as God’s representative: he is more than merely a good teacher or miracle-worker. Perhaps Jesus saw that the teacher of the Law, addressing him as ‘Teacher’ (v 19), wanted to follow him only as a pupil would have followed a rabbi. His response illustrates that a much deeper level of commitment is appropriate (v 20). Similarly, his reply to the disciple who wanted to bury his father indicates that Jesus’s identity is such that a bond with him surpasses even the imperative bond of filial obligation (v 22). Whether we need to leave home to follow Jesus will depend on our specific vocation: but all of us are called to recognize his authority as Lord of our lives.
In this respect, Peter’s mother-in-law provides a simple but profound model of discipleship. She experiences Jesus’ touch and healing. In response, she gets up and serves him (v 15).
Reflect: what distracts you from following and serving Jesus?
Father, I tend to hunker down, concerned only for me and mine. I ask for an open heart and open arms, just like Jesus.
1 A Ryrie, The Desert Movement, Canterbury Press, 2011, p221 2 E.g. Matt 4:13; 9:10,28; 13:1,36 3 RB Hays, Reading Backwards, SPCK, 2015, p37
Book and Author Intros
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