Following Jesus Home | Matthew 8.18-22; 9.9-13 (Snoh)
June 1, 2014 Series: Mission of the King | Matthew Part II
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 8:18–8:22
Introduction | Following Jesus
We are working our way through the Gospel of Matthew, one of the four records of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. The writer was once a money-hungry tax collector devoted to his own kingdom; but after meeting Jesus he became one of the King’s greatest teachers.
More than any other gospel writer, Matthew endeavored to record what Jesus taught. 60% of this book is Jesus’ direct teaching. We’ve spent that past couple of months studying Jesus’s longest recorded section of teaching—the Sermon on the Mount-- probably the best description of the heart of a Christian. But Matthew not only wanted to portray Jesus as teacher, he wanted to prove Him to be the long-awaited King. So following Jesus’ longest sermon, beginning in Chapter 8, Matthew gives an account of some of Jesus’ healing miracles which demonstrated His -power. He heals a man with leprosy with a touch. He heals a Roman Centurion’s servant with a word. He heals Peter’s mother in law, and many others who were sick or demon-possessed. According to versus 17, Matthew sees all of Jesus’ actions as the fulfillment of messianic-prophecy in Isaiah 53.4 which says: He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.
But Matthew wants us to realize that the same Lord who has authority over nature, disease, and dark forces is the same Lord who has authority over the very lives of his disciples. Matthew’s pauses from writing of miraculous healings and focuses on miraculous followings. Jesus is not calling people to admire Him from afar or even just be healed; He is calling people to follow Him. Following Jesus means living like Jesus lived. And a life like Jesus is not a life following the crowd. It is possible that Matthew is meditating on Isaiah 53.3, remembering that for as much healing as his life would bring others, his life would be hard: 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. A life like Jesus is different, difficult, but what we were designed for. The life like Jesus is much more costly and much more joyful than usually described. Christianity is harder than we’ll admit; but more rewarding than we can imagine.
I want to consider three questions around what it means to follow Jesus: What does it cost to follow Him? What does it change to follow Him? What does it look like to follow Him? COST/CHANGE/EXAMPLE
#1 WHAT DOES IT COST TO FOLLOW HIM?
18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
A crowd to avoid
First, I find it noteworthy that Jesus always seems to avoid the crowds. He does not seek attention or try to take center stage. He is indifferent to numbers, unconcerned with size, and uninterested in the approval of men. Jesus came to do more than just gather a crowd. Jesus came to do more than just heal the body, or even the mind. Jesus came to redeem disciples, rescue souls, and restore the world. Matthew intentionally interjects teaching moments within the healing narratives because he never wants us to forget that Jesus was a teacher with a mission. The church must not forget its mission. It is not only to bring comfort—but to make disciples. We can hold big events, experience big miracles, gather big crowds, achieve big “successes”, and absolutely fail to do what Jesus said we were supposed to do. Unlike men, Jesus looks passed the impersonal crowd and engages each person.
A Scribe “wanting” to follow
Out of the crowd, an individual scribe approaches Jesus. The Scribes were teachers and interpreters of the law. Referred to as lawyers by Luke, the Scribes serve to preserve right interpretation of the law. In ancient times, scribes were often the King’s official secretaries—their right hand men. In Jesus day, the Scribes were teachers devoted to correct interpretation of the Jewish law. Some of the most critical of Jesus opponents, accusing him of violating God’s law numerous times. This man is educated. This man is skilled. This man is respected. This man is religious. This man is the kind of man that, by all appearances, would be the kind of disciple that one might assume Jesus wanted. But, when this man proudly announces that he will follow Jesus wherever he goes, Jesus does little to affirm him. Having seen the crowds, the miracles, the enthusiasm, it is clear that the man from the crowd is only thinking about what following Jesus might gain for himself. He does not understand what following costs. The man does not approach Jesus as Lord; he approaches him as a means to become a lord himself. In other words, the man does not think Jesus is great as much as he loves the greatness he believes will come by identifying with Him—he wants to be part of the entourage. He has no idea that following Jesus leads to the cross.
A King with No Home
The cost of following Jesus is complete surrender. Benefits of believing include: self-denial, sacrifice, service, and suffering. Jesus is not a King building a court for this world. He is the SON OF MAN—a king without an earthly castle. The SON OF MAN comes from the prophet Daniel who sees a vision of King Jesus reigning in an everlasting Kingdom that cannot be destroyed. The Kingdom of God is not like an earthly Kingdom, so His mission to build it will look different: the mission does not have a home.
o The mission is not localized in one place. It’s not about buildings, numbers, dollars, etc (this is hard to believe). In the eyes of the world, Jesus mission will appear to fail every definition of success.
o The mission does not have an end. It is moving. It is organic. There is no retirement. There is a sense of having to always ask, WHAT NOW JESUS.
o The mission has a cost. Jesus was, literally, homeless. Entrusting himself to God, he depended upon the mercy of others. Mission is uncomfortable, unpredictable, and uncertain. Following Jesus means sacrificing comfort, popularity, and security that an earthly home can bring. This is not our home.
For the scribe, following Jesus will not get him the status or influence he wants. Following Jesus gets you Jesus. Those who follow Jesus find Him more satisfying than any success you might accomplish, any regard you might receive, or any comfort you could experience. There is no cost too great.
#2 WHAT DOES IT CHANGE TO FOLLOW HIM?
21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Let me first say farewell to those at my home (Luke 9.61)
Jesus recalls a “disciple”
After Jesus speaks on the reality of what following Him is really like, “another disciple” approaches Jesus. Matthew seems to make a point that this man is already a so-called disciple. On the surface, he appears to ask a harmless question, but Jesus’ somewhat “cold” response reveals that there is much more going on. The fact that he scolds a disciple about true nature of discipleship sobers us to a hard reality—disciples can drift from following Jesus. By drift, I mean, they compromise and make something more important than Jesus, even if you claim to follow Him. On a recent blog, pastor Jeremy Treat wrote “A decision for Christ apart for devotion to Christ is more about fleeting emotions than lifelong commitment.” That is what sin is—building your life on something other than God—making something other than Jesus your savior.
Jesus expects to be first
On the surface, the request sounds quite harmless. But he doesn’t ask to go home for a moment, nor does he ask to go home after his father dies. He asks to go home FIRST. Jesus is most concerned about the “firstness”. This disciple has lost the FIRSTNESS of Jesus. Jesus wants to be first. Was it not Jesus who said, “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6.33).” Consider that this man’s father may actually be alive. So, in essence, he is saying that I must wait for my Father to die before I follow you. Or, said a different way: Someday I will follow you Jesus….I will be ready to follow you Jesus when…before I follow you Jesus I must ____________. Jesus knew that if that man did not follow him in that moment, he would never follow him because this man’s FIRST concern, before Jesus, was his family. Jesus wants to be first; sin is making something good into something ultimate—a position reserved for Jesus. Luke 14.26—27,33 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple… any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Jesus does not expect us to hate our parents. But in when compared to love we have for Jesus, it may seem like hatred. This is no different than making your first concern you’re your lifestyle, your job, or your dreams. . Jesus’ demand to be first comes from a desire for us to be filled with joy. Jesus warns him about what is in the world—death. Jesus offers life. Pursuit of identity first, family first, job first, brings death to them all. But Jesus first, brings life to the identity, life, to your family, and life to you job.
Jesus asks hard questions
Every would-be disciple of Jesus must count the cost of following Jesus by asking a few simple questions. As Dr. David Platt says it: Do you believe He is worth abandoning everything for? Do you and I really believe that Jesus is so good, so satisfying and so rewarding that we will leave all we have and all we own and all we are in order to find our fullness in Him? Do you and I believe Him enough to obey Him and to follow Him wherever He leads? Every person Jesus calls answers yes.
#3 – WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO FOLLOW HIM?
Finally, our third and final question is, “What does it look like to follow Him?” The answer might surprise you. I believe Jesus wants us to follow Him home. In chapter 9, 9-13, Matthew records the moment Jesus said to him, “follow me.” In contrast to the hasty scribe and the hesitant son, Matthew’s response reveals what it truly means to follow Jesus; it is both much more and much less than we think. As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house (see Luke , behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”|
First, following means giving your life to Jesus | We don’t call Jesus, he calls us. Moreover, in calling a guy like Matthew, we see that Jesus doesn’t typically call disciples from among the crowd. Jesus doesn’t necessarily seek out the popular, the educated, the righteous, the clean, or even those looking for Him. Jesus does not go with the scribe. He does not call the man who claims to be a disciple but really still loves the world. He calls the dirty man with the broken past to follow Him. Matthew is a rather obscure disciple; more were outside of Peter, John, and Judas. From what we know, before he followed Jesus Matthew was a professional extortionist—a tax collector. The Jews considered tax collectors THE example of a “sinner” and the Romans viewed them no better than brothel keepers. As a tax collector, Matthew would have been despised by everyone because he was the 1% that actually did rob others of life to make a life for himself. This man was hated. THEN JESUS CALLED HIM BY NAME and transformed him from a minion of an evil king to a martyr for the true king. Matthew was reborn. Matthew’s job as a tax collector made him educated, wealthy, highly organized, and well-connected. Jesus used every part of Him. It is noteworthy that, in chapter 10, where he gives a list of the disciples—he is the only gospel author to add that he was a tax collector. He wants us to remember how Jesus took this unknown tax collector and made him into a soul collector.
Second, following means inviting Jesus into your home | After Jesus called save Him, he immediately got up and left everything. He left behind wealth. He left behind position. He left behind power. He left behind security. In a moment, he believed Jesus to be so good, so satisfying and so rewarding that he would leave all he had, all he owned, all he was in order to find his fullness in Him? Matthew left everything because the homeless King changed everything. He did more than abandon. Jesus didn’t have a home, Matthew did. Matthew didn’t wait for Jesus to lead him to some destination—he invited into the center of His life, into his home. Matthew wanted to dwell with Jesus immediately. He didn’t wait for the mission to take him to some place. He began the mission where he was at. This first thing that Matthew does is invite Jesus into His home. This is where all true disciples begin to follow Jesus—they follow Him home. Matthew says, my home, my every day, my life, is yours. Following Jesus wherever he goes means being with Jesus wherever you go. The goal of salvation is not fire insurance; it is life in the presence of God.
Finally, following means introducing Jesus into our relationships | Matthew does more than just throw a big expensive party for Jesus. He invites every sinner he knows to attend. Matthew exemplifies the Great Commission. Having believed who Jesus is, he wants more than anything for others to believe. He knows that if Jesus can save a corrupt, greedy, unwanted, tax collector who is despised more than thieves and prostitutes—he can save anyone. He is a disciple already trying to make disciples. He is not launching on a search to find people, he brings Jesus into the relationships he already has. And while everyone confused as to why Jesus would ever pick a sinner like a tax collector to be a disciple, Jesus declares that these are the only kinds of people he can save. All of Matthew’s experiences, all of his education, all of his rebellion, all of his extortion, all of his years devoted to building His own kingdom were designed by God to one day advance the His Kingdom.
CONCLUSION: What does it mean to follow Jesus? It means to become a SON of the King, a SERVANT to the King, and an AMBASSADOR for the King. Ever wonder why Matthew was a tax collector? Why was he trying to find his life through extortion? He believed that money or power would fill his heart—that it would allow him to say IT IS WORTH IT…or I AM WORTH it. Only Jesus is worth it, and only Jesus makes us worthy. Until you see what Jesus as supremely worthy, you will not follow Him. He will always be second to what you value most. You will not find Him worthy until you understand the cross. Jesus left His home to dwell with us in ours. Jesus abandoned infinite wealth, power, and comfort to make us his treasure. Jesus entered into our brokenness and willingly died in order to make us worthy. Jesus commitment to me cost Him everything; shouldn’t my commitment Him cost me something? Jesus wants you to give him more than your eternal life; He wants every wonderful, horrible, boring, exciting part of your earthly life. He wants more than a decision…he wants every decision.
More in Mission of the King | Matthew Part II
September 14, 2014Rejecting Jesus | Matthew 13:53-58 (Mville)
September 7, 2014Parables of Kingdom Power and Price | Matthew 13 (Mville)
August 31, 2014Parables of the Kingdom | Matthew 13 (Mville)