Kingdom Authority

Up to this point in Matthew, Jesus has revealed His power over disease. Now in this section, He will reveal His power over nature, demons, and sin. To know how to grow spiritually, we must understand the incredible power of Jesus. These verses reveal three vital actions necessary for spiritual growth. Let’s begin with Anticipate—regard as probable; expect or predict, act as a forerunner or precursor of.

In life, we need to anticipate storms. Any good sailor will tell you that on the water there are warning signs to a storm. One of my favorite captains is Captain Ron, Rico boss, and he says, “they come on you fast and they leave you fast.” In life, we can learn the triggers and warning signs to many of life’s storms. Some of you experience headaches. There are warning signs that you are about to get one, am I right. For some, it’s food or a certain stress level. Many have learned how to read our spouse, and know that a bad day can trigger needless arguments. We know when our children are tired they get fussy and without caution or proper care a storm. These simple storms, but can build if we are not careful.

Did you know God runs diagnostic tests on our lives? Now God, He will run a test to reveal what is already lurking in the shadows of our lives. James 1:13~When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; (NIV) Let’s set the stage. After performing several amazing, healing miracles as Christ Jesus teaches about the cost of discipleship, Jesus decides it’s time to give a little test. Matthew 8:23~And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. (ESV) The Sea of Galilee is thirteen miles long and seven miles wide at its widest point. For a local reference, Lake Wylie is only ten miles long. On the Sea of Galilee, storms frequently appear without warning. Sometimes the storms create waves over ten feet high. I bet you have never heard that fishing story. Into this tenuous situation, our Lord Jesus will now demonstrate His divine power over nature. 

Our Lord has been ministering and He is physically drained. So while He is catching a cat nap in the bow, a fierce storm suddenly appears. The waves are so high they are breaking into the boat and swamping it. The terrified disciples wake Jesus up. When storms rage in our lives, how do we respond? It can be really tempting to let go of our faith or even take matters into our own hands. Has that ever worked out for you? Not me. In their nervousness, the disciples let go of trust and wake Jesus, fearing that they will die. Grasp the fact that they believe Jesus is amazing, He is powerful and really knows God, they may even believe that He came to save them, and perhaps this is that moment. 

I don’t know where you are in life, but I want you to know that there is so much more than just this moment. God has a plan in place for you. Jeremiah tells us over and over that there is a hope and a future for us in God. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) That’s why he will buy a field in a few more chapters. (Jeremiah 32) Today, take time to layout your life before the Lord. Tell Him what your fears are, and what you need from Him and I know that He will answer you, and lead you forward. When He does, you will know that you can come to Him, because He is Lord over all.



Blank Space

I want each of us today to count the cost. Luke 14:28~For which of you desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (ESV) Cost is something many seem to forget. Yes, salvation is truly free, as it says in Romans 6:23~For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT) However, discipleship, being a follower of Jesus Christ is costly. As the crowds grow, Jesus tells the twelve to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. A scribe (a teacher of Jewish law) asks to follow Jesus wherever He goes (8:18-19). Jesus replies in Matthew 8:20~“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (ESV) In other words, Jesus has fewer comforts than many animals or birds. He only wants followers who are willing to pay the cost of discipleship, followers with true commitment. 

Jesus is emphasizing that following Him is not always easy or even comfortable. Following may cost us friends, popularity, a job, and lifestyle changes. This is the first time Matthew records Christ Jesus calling Himself the Son of Man. Son of Man is an Old Testament name for Messiah. We find it in Daniel 7:13-14~I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days…to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom…(ESV). Jesus wants everyone who follows Him to count the cost. Luke 9:23~ Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (NIV)

Then another of Jesus’ disciples asks in Matthew 8:21~Another of the disciples (μαθητής mathētēs) said to him, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. (ESV) The word (μαθητής mathētēs) rendered disciple means learner, student or pupil. Do I have any students of Christ? Like the crowds, this man is learning from Jesus but is not one of the twelve. Christ is now changing the meaning of disciple from being just a learner to one who is fully-committed to following. The second thing we find of interest in verse 21 is the phrase bury my Father. This is a Jewish idiom, a figure of speech, that literally means, wait until my father dies. And then… I will.

So, this man is not asking simply to go to his father’s funeral, rather he wants to delay following Christ Jesus until after his father dies. If dad were dead, he would be home mourning. See when his father dies, he’ll receive his inheritance. As a Jew, if he doesn’t fulfill the responsibility of burying his dad at death, he will lose his inheritance. So, Lord I can’t follow you because I have too much at stake. Therefore, Jesus tells him in Matthew 8:22~ “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (ESV) Jesus is saying to him, I am the real treasure, you can’t take anything from this world with you. Has the Lord ever asked you to reprioritize your life? 

This would-be disciple is requesting a delay. Many in our world hope to have a John Wayne exit. Who dying slowly can ask people to take care of the dog and watch over the ranch, and oh yeah, Jesus take me home. Jesus shares in our pericope that each of one of us, must make a real Decision for Christ. We do this each day as we sit in His presence with our study book the Bible, asking, listening, reading and worshiping. A study conducted by Howard Culbertson of So. Nazarene U. revealed the ages at which most Americans become believers: Age 0-3: 1%; age 4-14: 85%; age 15-29: 10%; age 30+: 4%. Most pastors or missionaries hear the call of God, before the age of 14.

All week long, we have been mulling over our decision for Christ. We know and believe that our Lord has planned a life filled with meaning and purpose. (Jeremiah 29:11-13, Ephesians 2:10) As we turn to 2 Corinthians 6:2~For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (NIV) This reminds us that tomorrow is the devil’s day, but today is God’s day, the day of salvation. 

What has the Lord laid on your hear today as you have studied? Who has the Lord laid on your heart? Is there something your need to do, why not make today a day of action for the Lord. Ask Him now for guidance and respond as you move from this place.



Tears

In the days of old, royalty was declared with Hear Ye Hear Ye. What then followed were decrees, edicts, laws, etc. As Jesus walks out into the masses, His message remains that the Kingdom of God is Coming. In response, people are bringing Him their needs. Returning to Capernaum, Jesus is approached by a Roman officer or a centurion, in command of 100 soldiers comes to Him. Though he is a Gentile, the officer pleads with Jesus to heal his young servant who is lying in bed paralyzed, in terrible pain. Jesus says let’s do this. Wait, wait, wait, says the Roman officer, which amazes Jesus. The centurion says I’m not worthy of a visit. Please just say the word, and it will be so! This isn’t false humility. I think we forget sometimes just who Jesus is. He is God with us, He is the Word made flesh, He is God’s salvation. He is the Lion who fights for us, He is the Lamb slain in our stead. He is God’s only son who died for our sin. 

This Centurion has grasped something the room had not yet perceived. Matthew 8:10~ When Jesus heard this, he marveled (θαυμάζω thaumazō) and said to those who followed him, Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. (ESV) Wow…awed…Christ Jesus says Matthew 8:11-12~I tell you, many will come…and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom…while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out…(ESV) Sons will be displaced, thrown out, making room for those with genuine faith, to have a seat at the table. In other words, Gentiles like you and me will banquet with Abe, Issy, and Jake while many Jews will go to hell because they lacked saving faith. The Jews had long ignored a faithful promise of God to Father Abe in Genesis 22:18~and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (NIV)

No one will be in heaven because they’re Jewish or of any other nationality. They will only be there because of their saving faith. Acts 15:9~He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. (NIV) Jesus sees the centurion’s and tells him to return home, for his request has been granted. Our Lord loves to meet us in our faith, as we take Him at His word. (8:13) Arriving at Pete’s home, Jesus finds his mother-in-law sick with a high fever. Again, we discern Jesus touching and the fever leaving. Men, this is not a teaching on getting our mother-in-law to do something at our house, or even leave. No, the point is Jesus. 

Jesus touches and heals the leper. Jesus heals the centurion’s servant with a Word. Jesus touches and heals Peter’s mother-in-law, this leads many to Him to be healed. This is why signs and wonders follow believers. (Mark 16:17-18) We are witnessing God being lifted up. When God is lifted up, life is given, healing granted, sins are forgiven. Three times John speaks of Christ Jesus being lifted up: John 3:14, eternal life is coming; John 8:28, the light of the world says the truth will set you free; and then in John 12:32, Jesus I am going to draw all. Consequently, that evening Jesus heals many sick people. Matthew adds in v17~ This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: He took our illnesses and bore our diseases. (ESV) Isaiah 53:4 says Jesus Christ bore our pain, suffering, sickness, He was afflicted for us.

Not only does Christ Jesus heal people to prove He is Messiah, but also because of His great loves. That means Jesus hates sickness and disease, which were never part of God’s plan. Jesus’ healing ministry is a preview of His coming kingdom. Revelation 21:4~He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (NIV) What is the old order? Things that include all sickness, sin, and disease.

Why not take time today to praise God for the new order of your life? 2 Corinthians 5:17~Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (NIV) Let today be a day of praise and thanksgiving unto God who has brought about a marvelous change in your life. Why not remind Him of your gratitude.