Church of Christ
at
Locks Cross Roads
5) Matthew 8 - Jesus heals again
Matthew 8:18 and following

Matthew arranges the miracle stories in groups of three with a line or two according the response of people to
Jesus.  This time, however, he puts two responses into the same text and throws our conscience into a crisis.  
Observe how he brings the two would be disciples into their own crisis of faith:  each must decide what he really
thinks of Jesus.

It is not clear why neither Matthew nor Luke record the final choices that each disciple finally made.  But it seems as
if by a deft use of silence these Gospel writers have thus brought into trial our motives for following Jesus.

Many would follow Jesus, but on conditions!  If they can remain king of their lives, they will follow Jesus to the end of
the earth.  But the basic principle is this:  the Kingdom of God is the rule of God that requires all there is to a man,
not all of God that man's rule can require, Matthew 5:8, Matthew 6:19-34.
Back to Matthew 8 Study Index Page

Jesus cleansed a leper, restored life and power to the centurion's servant, rebuked the fever that had attacked
Peter's mother-in-law, and healed all of Capernaum's sick.  Matthew is asking on the strength of this evidence, are
you willing to turn your life over to His directions?  Decide!  But remember: your reasons for following Him must be
pure, unmixed.  Your commitment must neither be shallow and hasty nor reluctant and procrastinating, but you must
decide.

Matthew 8:18 - the day is over (Mark 4:35) and Jesus is worn out after a hard day of preaching, arguments and
miracles (see Mark 3:19-35, Luke 8:23), this being an entirely different day than that on which Peter's wife's mother
and many others were healed at sunset (see Mark 2:22-34).

Matthew 8:19 and there came a scribe
The scribes had grown from careful students of Mosaic legislation among the priestly class into an honored
upper-class occupation of professional lawyers.  As experts in Old Testament Law and exposition, application and
instruction to the people, they were classed as professional rabbis with nobility.
Here is the honest confession of one rabbi who was literally overwhelmed by the supernatural wisdom of the Rabbi
to whom he now enthusiastically offers himself as willing follower.

Jesus sees something in this particular disciple that is hidden from many:
    1) The danger of momentary enthusiasm, (Matthew 13:20-21):  How would this confession sound when the
        going got rough, as Jesus tangled more and more bitterly with the scribes?
    2) The danger of rash overconfidence:  Without knowing precisely where you plan to go, Jesus, I am prepared
         to travel that last mile with you.

The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; even the simplest animals of God's creation are
provided with more or less permanent homes, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.  This merciful
response shows Jesus bearing a secret of His heart to His would-be disciple that He did not talk about with others.  
However unworthy his real motives might have been, Jesus does not scold him or crush his zeal.  Still, in view of so
sweeping a proposal the lawyer should see the cost of discipleship.
Jesus is confessing to a poverty equal to the poorest of His day and yet claims allegiance like the most autocratic
oriental despot.  Only a Jesus can unite these extremes.

The term "son of man" was a title with which both Ezekiel and Daniel are addressed in their prophetic office of the
Messiah.

Let the dead bury the dead.  This interesting figure used by Jesus has but one point but many applications.  Without
mentioning the emotionally touchy word "your dead father," Jesus makes the highest demand upon this young man:
"let those who are spiritually insensitive to the high call of the kingdom of God take care of those things that might
be called the highest duties of human life."  Jesus does not intend for us to neglect normal human responsibilities,
Matthew 15:1-20, 1st Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 4:28, Ephesians 6:1-4.  Jesus Himself went to the funeral of Lazarus,
but He did not require that Mary and Martha leave the tomb to begin an evangelistic journey with Him.

We are "walking civil wars."  Thus, anyone who commits himself to follow Jesus and delays, temporizes or reminisces
about the desirability of the life or relationships he is leaving behind, is not fit for the kingdom.  His heart is still tied
to the world.
Luke 9:60 But as for you . . . Jesus recognizes in this man a disciple in spite of his hesitations: You are not a dead
man.

Who is this One who with such quiet assurance makes such claims upon men?  Unless we are willing to answer this
question and unflinchingly surrender even the most justifiable and most useful occupation that hinder obedience to
Jesus, we cannot properly call ourselves His disciples.

Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.  We
must learn to live with the fact of His Lordship.  Put his hand to the plow, taken as an expression, probably has
nothing at all to do with plowing, as if in the act of looking back, the plowman should fail to plow a straight furrow.

These words sift and eliminate some who are unwilling, or too fearful to undertake His service.  These words inspire
and confirm the determination of those who, though also frightened, desire service under Jesus above all else.