Following Jesus into Storms Mt. 8:14-27 Pt. 2
Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 8:14–8:27
14When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. 15He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him. 16When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. 17This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.”
18Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. 19Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 21Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 22But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”
23When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. 24And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. 25And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” 26He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. 27The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
After the Sermon on the mount in chapters 5, 6, and 7, we've been looking at the phenomenon of miracles in chapter 8.
And, not a few, either. This is a cloudburst of miracles. Almost non-stop. He heals the sick. He casts out evil spirits. He exhibits control over natural elemental things. He later even feeds the hungry. Creates a few tons of food.
The miracles are necessary, because God is moving in the midst of His people, doing a work that is part of His plan of redemption.
Jesus does not fit any of the castes and molds of Jewish normality. God is introducing something new. New revelation is present. New mysteries are being revealed. And miracles are always part of God's method anytime anytime in His progression of revelation until the canon of scripture is closed.
We humans, some perhaps more than others, but it's built into everybody, we love to get something for nothing.
Just watch the kids on Christmas morning. Rip and tear. Paper flying. And the satisfaction of making a haul. You've got something today that you didn't have yesterday. And for some of us, it only gets worse with age. We never grow out of trying to get something for nothing.
And I think perhaps that explains the mob of people, sometimes up to 20,000 who were following Jesus around.
That sense of expectancy. Marveling at the miracles. The wonder of what was happening. Listening to the greatest speaker ever born. It was mesmerizing, I'm sure.
Will He bring the Kingdom tomorrow? Will He take on Rome? Somethings happening, and we're in on the ground floor.
At worst, it was the most entertaining show anyone had ever seen. At best there was a sensation that you were seeing things and getting things . . for nothing. Something for nothing.
But that isn't why Jesus came down to earth. He didn't come to be Doc Jesus. To open up shop at the crack of dawn every day and take one patient after the next.
The miracles serve a purpose, but they aren't an end in themselves. The miracles are only an attestation of something greater. God is revealing Himself!
Ultimately, every person that was healed or repaired, went on living a life apart from God and then perished like usual.
Something deeper has to happen. Something more than what the large crowd had any appetite for. As soon as the something for nothing deal was over, the same crowd shouted to have Him crucified.
So I want us to see a theme in this section of chapter 8 unfolding.
I see one word over and over in this section but the nuances of meaning are going to be moved by Jesus. The word is "follow"
What does it mean to "follow" Jesus. When does following Jesus cross over from the shallow get something for nothing level of the crowds to the deep seated commitment of the disciples?
We'll set the stage again by going back to vs. 1 of Ch. 8. 1When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him.
It's the Jesus show. The get something cool for nothing show. And they're following Him to see what He's going to do next. And in vs.18 He makes a decisive move that is directly related to who these followers are;
18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea.
Jesus didn't come to entertain folks. He really didn't even come to heal everyone and then just have them live normal lives and perish as usual.
It's time to move on. And one way to do it is to leave the crowd on the shore of the sea and go across in a small boat to the other side. Jesus did this several times.
So there's one level of "following" that Jesus doesn't commit Himself to. In fact He seems sort of dismissive. Let's cross over to the other side.
And then in vs. 19 we're going to begin narrowing down what the difference is between Jesus idea of following and the crowds version of following.
A guy over-hears Jesus say to the disciples, let's get out of here, and he says; “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”
And we learn in the verse, this isn't just anybody, 19 Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” This is a scribe. A lawyer. A learned man who has an important role in the religious life of Israel.
And the fishermen who are with Jesus start looking at each other and thinking; really? A scribe wants to join up. How cool is that. We're getting some notoriety. Some respect. This is a sharp guy and He can do a lot of stuff a whole lot better than we ever could.
Jesus looks at him, and without blinking an eye, He says; v.20 “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
There is cost. To follow Jesus, there is cost. Always. Sometimes it's family. Sometimes it's wealth. Sometimes it's comfort. That seems to be the case here.
Jesus says, you're used to staying at the Hilton. There isn't any Hilton where we're going.
We'll see it's different with every person. When the rich young ruler comes asking basically the same thing, Jesus says, go sell all your stuff, give the money to the poor, and then come follow me.
How did Jesus know that? How did He know that it was the money for the rich guy and the comfort for this guy?
Early in His ministry, John says; Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, Jn. 2:23,34
What is it, that if you had to choose between that thing, and having Jesus, that it would be too much?
Jesus says, How do you feel about sleeping most nights on the ground. No home. Itinerant life style.
When Jesus called these fishermen, it says they dropped their nets and followed Him.
They left their business, their clientele, their families for extended periods, and everything else, and followed Him.
That's the difference between these followers, and those followers.
Some will give up anything this world can offer in order to have Jesus. Some will not.
We don't know if this scribe kind of looked funny at Jesus, and said, "you know, if you're not staying at the Hilton, you're not doing it right." Or if he said, "OK, rock pillow for me tonight, if that's what it takes in this world, to be with Jesus."
What's frightening though is how many people at the crowd level of following will say, I'll follow you wherever you go, and then when the cost is revealed, will simply disappear.
Our current problem though is that the church believes every one that expresses that shallow desire, is a christian! You want to follow Jesus wherever He goes! Great! Come right down here, and we've got a little card from scripture press publishing that you need to fill out and congratulations, you're saved!
Jesus says, You want to follow me, eh? How do you feel about leaving the comfort of home behind? Oh, not so much. See ya. “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
He doesn't ask the man to do anything He's not willing to do Himself. But if you're going to hang with Jesus, there will be things you had before that get left behind. X2
Vs. 21 Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”
Another like the first one in the illustration. Disciple here means a follower. Same idea as before. And this guy has another limiting factor. Sometimes it's comfort. Sometimes it's wealth. This time it's family commitments.
This guy comes and he says, you know I'd like to follow you, but me and my dad have this business and I've got to keep at it until he's gone. When he dies and I'm my own man, I don't have to answer to him anymore, then I'll come and follow you.
His dad isn't dead. He's indentured to his family. Conflict of interest. I'll have to answer to dad as long as he's living. But when he's gone, then I'll follow.
We read that and we think, Oh, that poor man! His father died and he needs a day off for the funeral and Jesus is horrible to him.
No, no, no. A cultural mis-understanding. His father is quite alive and he is slave to his father until he does die.
We'll be there in 2 chapters. Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.…
What is it that you won't give up in order to have Jesus. Everybody seems to have a threshold that would keep them from having Jesus. Your comfort? Your money? Your family?
Jesus answer seems harsh to us. Especially us politically correct folk who would never say anything that might be discouraging or upsetting. 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”
Wow. That's harsh Jesus! Really?
The first time I read that, in 1971, I knew exactly what Jesus was saying.
2 kingdoms. One is populated with the spiritually dead. One is populated with the eternally living.
This dichotomy is all over the Bible. Paul says a widow who only lives for wanton pleasure is dead while she lives; 1Tim 5:6 And you'll remember the Father who receives the prodigal son home. What did he say?
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' Lk. 15:24
In Pauls famous passage to the Ephesians in chapter 2: 1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
People who walk in this world apart from God, apart from Christ, apart from the life giving Holy Spirit are dead while they live.
First and best choice is go get Dad and the kids and everybody come out of Satan's kingdom and come into God's kingdom. But if they won't. You've got to let them go. Your dad will perish some day. Let some of the other dead folks bury him.
It is harsh. There is incredible cost to leave this world system behind with whatever Jesus says has to stay behind, in order to follow Him.
Mt. 13:44 “The authority to reign of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
If there's anything in this world that is more valuable to you than Jesus, anything you wouldn't sell to have Him, instead, you're not His disciple. He demands to be first. Utter first. Totally first. No matter the cost.
Jesus looked at the large crowd and He said, let's cross over to the other side of the sea.
What about us? Maybe the requirements changed? Maybe it's not so hard after all. Maybe Jesus didn't quite get it right and Paul made it easier for us later on. Maybe I'm teaching it wrong. Maybe you need to find a teacher who doesn't send you home thinking, am I just a large crowd type follower. Do I really have to give everything to Jesus?
Vs. 23. Does your Bible have a paragraph change here. I disagree. I think this is the finish to the discussion we've been having. It fits with the two guys who wanted to follow Him but couldn't pay the price.
23 When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.
I love it when simple just jumps off the page. His disciples
Personal possesive pronoun. Genitive masculine. 3rd person singular. His.
These disciples belong to Him. He posseses them. They are His. 23When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him
These men left everything to follow Him. They are His. They had all the same problems with family and comfort and money and whatever else. They walked away from it and followed Him.
James and John were business partners with their Dad. Zebedee. Peter had a wife and mother in law to worry about. They all had successful businesses. They weren't rich, but they weren't destitute either. They had assets. Boats. Probably the one they're in. Nets. Homes. Customers. Competitors. I'm sure their wives had some things to say about their leaving everything behind. I'm blessed with a wife. I love to hear her opinions.
That verse is there to give us the contrast. The followers who don't, and the followers who did. The large crowd that isn't His, and the little group of men that are His.
I urge you. Nothing is better than Jesus. Don't let anything in this life take precedence and become more important than being with Him. Pay the cost. Follow Him.
A few did. They left all and followed Him. Were their lives boring after that? Fasten your seat belts, and come along.
Vs. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.
At a Kibbutz named Ginosar in Galilee an ancient boat was found in the mud and excavated. It was dated right at the exact time of Jesus. It's 27 feet long and 7 1/2 feet wide with a maximum depth of 4 ft.
It's on display at the kibbutz now and named, Jesus boat. Now, we know it isn't Jesus' boat. How, because He just said He didn't own anything 2 verses ago, and go about 3 verses more and we'll learn, Jesus boat didn't sink.
Never-the-less, it's fascinating to have an artifact from the exact period that we can look at with wonder. 27 feet isn't very big. The size of a medium size motor home perhaps, but less square.
That also gives us a reference to imagine the size of the waves and therefore the magnitude of the storm.
Matthew says; And Behold. Today our kids might say; Dude!
There arose a mega storm. That word mega is in the greek and that's exactly where we get it from and exactly what it means.
Giant. A monster storm. And the waves were crashing against that little boat. Coming right over the top of it!
That boat was getting baptized! Not good. Never good. Boats are simple things. They trap air in an area and since air likes to be on top of water, the boat floats. If you displace that free-board air with water, the boat sinks.
That means these disciples were a busy group. Trying to get the water out of the boat faster than the waves were putting it in. Frantic. Panic. To fail here, means death. And they were losing.
But Jesus, poor exhausted human Jesus, who had dealt with a gazillion or two broken sick people at Capernaum, he was down inside the hold, on the cushion, asleep.
25And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”
That's the right thing to do. That's what true disciples do.
You'll recall in vs. 18 whose idea this was. They weren't on a fishing expedition for themselves. They were acting as obedient disciples to a master.
18Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea.
If He is Lord, that means we are . . what, class? _ _ _ _ _ _ S l a v e s
He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea.
This is very foreign to us. Especially Americans. We don't take orders. Unless you're married, but still, you know what I mean.
This whole passage is looking at the contrast between real followers and wannabe followers.
The wannabe followers are at home, asleep in their houses, on their pillows, dry, listening to the storm raging outside, and thinking, thank goodness I'm not out on that lake right now. Didn't Jesus take off in a boat a while back. Hope He made it.
If you belong to Jesus, you're under orders. He is Lord. We are slaves. The master says, depart to the other side of the sea and if you belong to Him, that's what you do. Unquestioningly.
You don't look behind you at the black clouds boiling in and have a conversation with Jesus about safety. You get in the boat, with Him, and you shove off.
That's the contrast. Safety, warmth, security, surrounded by your family, in your own house, comfortable, fed . . . but without Jesus.
His followers are away from their loved ones, away from their homes, cold, wet, soaked to the bone, your business partners think you've lost your mind, they're planning an intervention, the boat that used to make you a living is now providing transportation, no nets, no fish, and you're losing the battle with the water. It's coming into the boat faster than you can bail it out of the boat. But, you've GOT Jesus. And He's got you.
Which is better? What do most people choose? Well, which IS better?
Ask Peter at the end of his life, as they're nailing him to a cross, upside down. Ask him if he'd change one thing after that day that Jesus said, Follow me.
Vs. 26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”
We tend to sing a heavy-ish mix of the old hymns in this church. Unpopular at best, and in the consumer driven church, impossible. They won't tolerate it!
Why do we do that? Are we just ornery? No. No, but we find that the words of the old songs that have stood the test of time were written by people who had been through these storms and survived, and the words of most of the modern stuff were written by the folks back on the shore.
Listen to the words written by a man named Johnson Oatman, Jr., published in 1897
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”
Fear and little faith walk hand in hand.
Modern sailboats have something called "ballast ratio". The ballast is a heavy weight that hangs down under the portion of the boat that has the air trapped.
Especially with sail boats, they would be top heavy with their masts and heavy sails all up high. The first little wind would knock them over. So, unseen, down in the water, there is ballast. When the wind puts a side load on the sail, the ballast counteracts.
Faith is our ballast. The storms of life are going to hit us broad side. Furiously! How is your ballast. Will you tip over?
Little faith, equals fear. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
The reason I stand up here and faithfully teach the word of God, is exactly that. I want us to be a church full of people who can withstand the onslaught. The mega-storms. We'll need ballast. Depth of truth.
Jesus says, Why are you afraid! Really, Jesus? Why are they afraid??
2 kingdoms in mortal conflict. Satan's kingdom. He rules this world. God's kingdom. Purchased out of this world. Taken back from Satan.
The entire Kingdom of God is in a 27 foot boat getting baptized by waves bigger than the boat 12 men in a boat in a monster storm. They belong to Jesus. Satan owns the rest. Who do you think's going to win.
They don't have the ballast in their little personal boats, yet. But this storm is going to add significantly! When they come out the other side of the storm, their faith is going to be stronger.
The fact that they are 'little faiths' is why Jesus allows this storm.
Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.
Jesus comes up topside and says rather sternly . . Wind! Cease! Sea! Cease! And immediately, the lake was a sheet of glass.
He spoke to the wind and the waves.
27The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
Exactly! Exactly! That's a rhetorical question folks. You know that, right?
“What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
What would you not give up in order to follow That Man?
More in The Gospel of Matthew
March 26, 2017The Authority and Commission of Jesus Mt. 28:16 - 20
March 19, 2017Jesus IS Alive! The Tomb is Empty Mt. 28: 1 - 15
March 12, 2017The Burial of Jesus Mt. 27:55 - 66 pt. 2