Following in Faith is True Following (Matthew 8:18-34)

November 24, 2013

Book: Matthew

Following in Faith is True Following (Matthew 8:18-34)
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Scripture: Matthew 8:18-34


Sermon Notes

The Cost of Following Jesus
8:19-22pp — Lk 9:57-60

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 holes and birds of the air 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.”

Jesus Calms the Storm
8:23-27pp — Mk 4:36-41; Lk 8:22-25 8:23-27Ref — Mt 14:22-33

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

The Healing of Two Demon-possessed Men
8:28-34pp — Mk 5:1-17; Lk 8:26-37

28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” 30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” 32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

Jesus is healer. 

Last time, Jesus healed many people at Capernaum – his ministry gathered a lot of attention. He gathered large crowds, but he had to do ministry in other places as well.

At that time, a scribe (teacher of the Law) came to him specially. They were highly respected, professional students and teachers of the Law. They were generally his opponents.  

But this one came to him personally and said, “Teacher, I want to be your disciple.”

Jesus answer here is a little strange. This is the first time Jesus calls himself the Son of Man – it is repeated 80 times in the gospels – but only by Jesus of himself. No one else ever uses this term. This is his private term for himself – pointing to himself as the suffering servant. 

He started his earthly life in a borrowed body, in a stable – he was originally homeless.

Jesus answer was not “Yes” or “No” but “think about what you are doing – count the cost”. In the context of his present ministry, following him, and being his disciple meant to be constantly on the move, from place to place as itinerant preacher.

Once a disciple, your whole life = discipleship. Without commitment, we can’t be his true disciples. If we are true disciples, we must willingly put aside our worldly security. We must be willing even to give up our homes, our security. The way to glory always involves the cross. Luke 9:23? “Whoever wants to follow me must take up his cross daily and follow me.”

What does he mean “let the dead bury the dead”?

“Let the spiritually dead bury the physical dead.”

It’s much better to not just wait for them to die and bury them nicely – so no matter how many “important” things we have to do, we should follow Christ without delay. Even though we have others human loyalties competing for our attention.

There are many OT stories to show what true discipleship is. For example, Ruth. Ruth told Naomi, “where you live, I will live. Where you die, I will die. Your God will be my God.”

In the genealogy of Jesus, she is mentioned. True discipleship is like this, wherever Jesus is, we follow. But don’t worry, the final destination of Jesus is the place of glory, eternal life.

Then Jesus once again showed his power and authority over all nature (not only diseases). He is the Creator of nature. (v. 23-27)

Jesus was sleeping in the boat. If Jesus sleeps near you, sleep. Don’t wake him up.

The Lake (Sea) of Galilee is about 13 miles long (N-S) and 8 miles wide (E-W). At that time, it wasn’t unusual for violent storms to come. Undoubtedly he knew the storm was coming – but he ALLOWED it. Why? To give some spiritual lessons for us today. 

In the OT, do you know Jonah? Jonah met a storm because he disobeyed God’s command. But in this case, they met a storm BECAUSE they followed Christ.

We can meet storms whether we follow Jesus or not. This world is a world of storms. What is most important is our reaction to storms. 

They followed Jesus in body, but not in faith. Still today, it is possible to GO to church all the time with little faith. It is FAITH (Heb 11:6) he wants to see in us. ( “Without faith, it is impossible to please God..”)  If they’d had true faith, they could have enjoyed the storm, they could have slept beside Jesus even in the storm. If we have true faith in Jesus Christ, we can even enjoy storms. In order to sleep in storms, don’t sleep in sermons.

“You of little faith.”
Jesus rebukes the wind, the waves, persons, demons, ALL creation – he rebukes and they obey completely. In life, Jesus is still king, Lord, master. Wherever Jesus is, the storms of life become calm. 

The most terrible storms turn to peace when the cold wind of sorrow blows, there is calm and comfort in the presence of Jesus. When the HOT storm wind blows, there is peace and security. When the storm of doubt blows, there is security and safety. In every storm that shakes our heart, there is peace if we are with Jesus. Jesus is in control of any storm in life. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

Jesus shows his power in the supernatural realm next. 

After the storm became calm, they arrived at the next place (and another storm – spiritual – was waiting). Yes, in our lives, one storm finishes and another is waiting for us. But don’t worry. The solution is if you are with Jesus Christ.

At that time, tombs were fit only for lepers, demon-possessed, and dead. The demons said, “What do you want with us? Jesus, Son of God, are you here to torment us before the appointed time.” The demons KNEW Jesus and his power and authority and their own final destruction. Rev 20:10 “The dragon will be thrown into the lake of fire and tormented forever and ever… 

“What do you want with us?” means “What do you mean to us, we have nothing to do with each other.” Jesus purpose = heal, give life. Demons = kill, destroy. This shows their ultimate rebellion. 

From some distance there was a herd of pigs. Probably 2,000 pigs (Mark 5).

“Please send us to the pigs” = they wanted to avoid their final destruction – they knew Jesus could do it at that time. Why didn’t he? The time for that work had not yet come. 

Jesus healed so many people from the destructive effects of demons, but he didn’t send them to their final destruction. That job had not yet come. Revelation shows Jesus’ final victory over demons and evil. 

Some people even today ask “Why?” Why does’nt Jesus destroy demons now? Why do evil people prosper and the righteous have a hard time? The time for that has not yet come. 

Demons have no faith in Jesus. By faith we must believe what Jesus has done for us – he is the only one who can save us from sin. We must live out our faith by obeying his commands. Jesus said to the demons “GO!” and they went. They lost their powers totally and immediately they rushed into the herd of pigs and rushed them out off the sea bank where they died. 

Can you imagine this picture? More than 2,000 peaceful pigs were feeding, and immediately, they all became crazy and stampeded with full speed to their destruction and floated at the edge of the lake. Can you imagine this marvelous picture? All the town’s people came to see Jesus.

They could have responded with:

  1. Joy – for the full recovery of these men
  2. Overjoyed – at seeing this Jesus in their town
  3. Fulfilled – as eyewitnesses
  4. Repentance – seeing Jesus and accepting him

Instead, to our sadness, they begged and pleaded “Please, go away! We don’t need you.”

There is no record that Jesus ever returned here again. How foolish, but easy it is to value materials, money, possessions more than human lives. Please remember, ONE human life is MORE valuable than ALL the money and investment in this world. Still today, Jesus wants to heal us and give us everlasting, exciting life. 

This kind of life can only be obtained in Jesus Christ – he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Let’s pray.