JANUARY 12, 2022 ~ 52 WEEKS THROUGH THE NEW TESTAMENT
JANUARY 12 READING…Matthew 8
For the most part Matthew chapter 8 is filled with Jesus performing miracles like the world had never seen. An unclean leper dares to come to Jesus to ask for healing. One must understand that lepers did not approach teachers, or any other “clean” person…they were required to shout out their condition when they approached others. What a life filled with both isolation, and continued embarrassment. This man was fighting all the social norms, restrictions, and expectations to come to Jesus in this way. Because of his faith…Jesus healed him. Next Jesus heals the servant of a centurion. Here we have another individual that was despised by the Jews, and considered an “unclean” Gentile. He pushes through the barriers of ethnic hatred and in great faith asks the Lord to heal his servant…Jesus speaks the word and the servant is healed. Peter’s mother-in-law, a “woman”, received healing from the Savior…Jesus is just destroying all the society norms of that day. Jesus calms the sea when He and His disciples were on the Sea of Galilee and a great tempest comes up. All of nature obeys Jesus’ commands, for He is the Lord over all creation. Finally, Jesus deals with another “unclean” individual who is possessed by demons. The demons were cast out of this man, who was made clean, into a heard of swine. These pigs were already unclean, and the unclean demons belong in that which is unclean, not in a person created in the image of God.
During all of these miracles describe by Matthew we have recorded for us an encounter between Jesus and a scribe. The scribe makes the claim that he would follow Jesus wherever He went. Jesus described what it means to be His follower by telling the scribe that while the animals have places to rest and be safe from the elements that Jesus had no such place. As far as we know this scribe never followed Jesus. It seems his expectation of following a miracle worker were shattered by Jesus’ dose of reality as to what it would really be like to follow Him. I wonder if we also don’t project our expectations on the Lord…telling Him what we are willing to do and endure in following Him? Few in the western church really understand what it means to follow Jesus…nor would we follow Him very long if it cost us our comfort. Another said to Jesus that He would follow Him, but first wanted to go bury his father. Jesus’ response may sound cruel, but there are few who read this passage as the man’s father had just died and needed to be buried. In that time a person was buried on the day of their death. If this man was really concerned about his father’s well-being, what was he doing hanging around Jesus, instead of taking care of his father? The man’s father was not dead…this was another excuse to put off following Jesus. We all have many excuses why we do not follow Jesus as one of His disciples…none are valid.
Please share your thoughts from today’s reading.
TOMORROW’S READING…Matthew 9