February 20, 2017: The Demands of Jesus

Morning: Matthew 8:18-27; Noon: Leviticus 16:1-23:2; Evening: Psalm 33

Will you follow Jesus to the other side? Will you follow Him regardless of the cost, the sacrifice, the hardship? Jesus sent a command to depart from Capernaum to the “other side,” to the country of the Gergesenes people. Gerasa is presumed to dwell on the eastern banks of the Galilean Sea, just east of the Jordan and approximately ten miles south along the banks of Galilee from the Jordan river’s mouth. In some ways this was a last flight for those who would follow Jesus. Would Jesus’ disciples and would-be followers really pack their bags and leave all behind to follow Jesus?

One would-be disciple after the next was apparently not so ready to take this flight. Matthew recollects a certain scribe who seemed very enthusiastic about following Jesus, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus appeared to have a certain knowledge about this scribe’s expectations for the journey. The scribe expected some level of comfort, lodging, perhaps a permanence of settlement of some kind. Jesus affirmed that there would be no such “nest” in His ministry. Another disciple said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Like the scribe’s reasonable expectation, this disciple had a reasonable request. But again, Jesus showed that His ministry was of the highest priority, exceeding the wants of comfort, and even exceeding one’s responsibilities to his own kin.

The great tempest that would arise upon the sea is not a disjointed piece of the puzzle in Matthew’s narrative. It fittingly follows the demands Jesus lays out before these two would-be disciples. Even once Jesus disciples board this flight with Jesus there is still turbulence along the way. Now the real challenge begins. But have no fear with Jesus near. As He rebukes the winds and the sea, so He is able to smooth out the difficulties presented to us in life. Have faith in Him. Do not lose hope. Do not abort the ship. Stay with Jesus. He loves you. He cares for you. His power surrounds you. He will help His faithful ones.

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you; May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion” (Psalm 20:1-2)

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