Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thoughts on following Jesus

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 8:14-34

TO CHEW ON: "Then a certain scribe came to Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.'" Matthew 8:19

There are three mentions of following Jesus in our reading today, and another in a different version of one of the stories. Each has something to teach us about following Jesus.

1. The first is a "certain scribe" who came to Jesus all gung-ho, eager to join the disciples. But Jesus appeared cool to his offer. What He said in reply ("Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head") seems meant to dampen the scribe's fervour. Jesus told him, in effect, there was a cost to following Him.

2. Another man, called a disciple, asked for some time off to attend to family responsibilities. Jesus' answer to him ("Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead") underlined to him and to us that following Jesus is urgent and will probably interfere with life as we know it.

3. A little later when Jesus got into a boat, "His disciples followed Him..." Matthew 8:23. That act drew them right into the middle of a storm, which shows that following Jesus may not be easy or feel safe. But Jesus rebuked the storm and that "great calm" that followed illustrates that when Jesus is with us, we're actually in the safest place on earth. (As someone has said, "I'd rather be in a storm with Jesus in my boat, than on the calmest seas without Him.")

4. Jesus and the disciples made it over to the other side where they encountered two demon-possessed men. He exorcised the demons and allowed them to enter a herd of swine. Mark and Luke also tell this story. In both their accounts (Mark 4:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39) there is just one man. That man, after his deliverance, asked Jesus if he could "be with Him." But Jesus said no. Instead He told him "Go home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you..." Mark 5:19. For this man following Jesus meant spreading the good news about Him at home instead of trekking with Him around the country. And so we see that following Jesus doesn't look the same for everybody.

Let's keep these aspects of following Jesus in mind today as we live disciple lives each in our own unique circumstances.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, You are so worth following! Help me to understand what following You means in my life today. Amen.

MORE: To be a disciple...

"To be a disciple is to be a devoted love-slave to the Lord Jesus .... The Christian life is stamped by 'moral spontaneous originality,' consequently the disciple is open to the same charge that Jesus Christ was, viz., that of inconsistency. But Jesus Christ was always consistent to God, and the Christian must be consistent to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to hard and fast creeds. Men pour them selves into creeds, and God has to blast them out of their prejudices before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ.
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 2nd reading.

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