Mission Costs | Matthew 8:18-27 (Mville)
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 8:17–8:27
Good Morning! We are continuing to preach through the book of Matthew, the gospel account of Jesus as the Savoir-King of God’s people. We have looked at Jesus birth, his beginning of ministry, and the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus laid out what it means to be one if his disciples and citizens of his kingdom. The Message of the King then shifted to Part 2 (Chapters 8-13) the Mission of the King. Jesus wasn’t merely a good teacher he is a great savior and king. This means his ministry doesn’t solely consist of words, but words that lead to action. We see the pattern throughout Matthew of Jesus proclaiming the values of the kingdom then displaying his authority as king. Last week we saw after Jesus preached his sermon on the Kingdom of God, he showed His God-Savior-King credentials fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah 53 as the suffering servant that heals God’s people though healing a leper with a touch, a Roman centurion’s servant with a word, Peter’s Mother-in-law, and countless others. He heals these people with an explicit purpose to show he is the King with absolute authority over all disease and sickness, even when the afflicted are the most helpless and hopeless. We also saw Jesus heals people to change their purpose. He saves us to serve. He transforms the sick into the sent as those who sought and receive healing begin to seek the hurting. This is part of what we call Gospel Living at Damascus Road, people healed and saved by the Gospel Truth of Jesus as the Savior-King, growing together and caring for one another in Gospel Community, pursuing holiness in their individual lives and living on Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost. Another way to say this is being a faithful disciple of Jesus. Having spent time in his sermon unpacking what a disciple of the King looks like, we continue in chapter 8 and see how Jesus wants those who would follow him to understand the personal costs associated with being one of Jesus disciples, the difficulties they will face, and ultimately be reminded why Jesus is worth trusting as Savoir and following as Lord.
Matthew 8:18-27 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.” 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.
23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
V18-20 Mission Misunderstanding
Jesus has been preaching, teaching, and healing, and the crowds are starting to gather around him. This time instead of getting up on the hill to preach or in the crowd to preform healings, he says it’s time to go. Why did Jesus want to get away? John 6:15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. Many times crowds of people responded to Jesus preaching and miracles seeking to make him king by violence or revolt. Jesus could easily set up shop in Capernaum, use his new relationship the centurion and resources of the synagogue to build up a locally successful and influential mega church, with a great salary for him and his key leaders and coast for the next 30 years. This is not Jesus mission and not how his kingdom is going to be established. Jesus is thinking of a bigger, his mission is not complete there are more people for him to preach to and more miracles for him to perform. Jesus will remove himself from the situation and instructs his immediate followers to get on the boat come with him “to the other side.” of the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus mission is moving on from where everyone currently is and there are many people who want to follow Jesus more closely. They like his teaching, they are intrigued by his ministry and they don’t know if and when they might see him again. They can’t podcast his sermon from Nazareth. They earnestly have found Jesus worthy of following. So when they see him heading for a boat with his disciples they say “hey I want to go where you guys are going.” However, they had not considered the full cost of becoming a disciple of Jesus. They thought they could use Jesus as a supplement to their current lives. Jesus tells them discipleship means leaving your present securities and venturing into path and territories that are presently unknown. He wants anyone who desires to follow him to have a clear picture of what they are signing up for and to thoughtfully count the cost before impulsively saying “yes I am all in!”
The first guy we see come to Jesus is a Scribe. Scribes usually were opposed to Jesus, but this one clearly was very interested in Jesus teaching. Being a scribe meant he was highly political, studied the law of Moses, he had status in society and in the synagogue, he had a good paying job, and a well above average lifestyle. Following Jesus wasn’t going to forward any of those. Actually the opposite was true. He would have lost his job, lost his status in the community. He would go from stable, predictable, comfortable to joining a poorly funded, often misunderstood and opposed itinerant ministry. His life, by any worldly standards, would look dramatically worse. He says he is willing to follow Jesus “wherever you go.” This means, through thick and thin. Jesus wants him to be crystal clear on just how thin is thin. It’s not going be a marginal pay cut. No benefit package, no vacation time. The boss of the operation is homeless, so you’re not even promised the basics of having a warm bed each night. This is a high bar Jesus sets. There is no middle class security in following Jesus. Following Jesus can be very interesting, as we’ll see, but stability is not high on the list. Even in how Jesus refers to himself in his response is an invitation to the scribe to recheck his motives and know more about who he is considering following. Jesus calls himself the Son of Man – Why? It is a rare term. It showed the humility of his earthly mission, taking upon our weakness, the rejection and suffering he was to endure. It refers to a prophecy in Daniel 7 that speaks of future glory, but is has no nationalistic overtones. Messiah or Christ was savior of the Jews, Lord is King like a Roman Caesar. Jesus was telling the scribe he is not political in the sense he/we usually think of, yes he is the King of Heaven, but he wants to dispel the popular misconception the messiah would be a military and political leader. If you are seeking Jesus hoping for material comfort, maintaining or increasing your social status, or further your political cause you will be disappointed. Being a disciple of Jesus is not about furthering your own agenda, it is about laying your agenda down in favor of His. Jesus does not promise his followers a life of instant comfort and security, he promises they get to be with him. We don’t know what this man choose, but we do know Jesus is clear about what he should expect. No bait and switch in calling disciples to Jesus.
V21-22 Mission Avoidance
The next guy is called one of the disciples, he’s not one twelve, but he is a follower. He either heard Jesus talk to the scribe or had a deeper understanding that being a disciple of Jesus was incredibly costly and meant severing deeply healed ties, even family responsibilities, for the primary responsibility of following Jesus. He says “Hold the boat, don’t leave just yet, I am ready! But first…. I’ve got some stipulations.” I have some things I want to tend to before I give you full lordship over my life. If I submit my whole life to you now Jesus and get on that boat some things I think, or others think, are highly important might be put on the back burner or not be taken care of if you have something you think is more important for me to do. Is this boat coming back soon? Is there another boat I can take later after I have finished my work? It’s very important; I have to bury my father.” I am sure Jesus will understand, and say “sure take all the time you need. We’ll swing back around every few days and see if you’re ready.” But he doesn’t, Jesus answer seem really cold and callous to a guy whose dad just died. Is Jesus really this mean, or should we look a little deeper into the heart of this man’s request?
There are actually two options with what this man is saying. First, is actually very unlikely, his dad could have recently died and he could be talking about performing an actual burial in which case you were exempted from a whole string of religious duties including studying God’s word, service in the temple/synagogue. A burial like those unusually took place on the day of death and the man would have been occupied with burial activities and wouldn’t have been in the crowd around Jesus. The second is much more likely. The phase “bury one’s father” was a traditional saying referring to the duty of a son to remain home and care for his parents until they have died and be respectfully buried so it is most likely he was talking about caring for his father for an indefinite amount of time as his primary duty ABOVE being a disciple. This could have been years. “Jesus, I’ll follow you, but not until I’ve taken care of all responsibilities I currently have or may have in the future.” “Save a spot for me on the boat, or I’ll catch the next one.” You go to the Mukilteo ferry and there is one every 30 mins. This guy wants the promise of being with Jesus in the future without living with and for Jesus today.
Jesus says the time is now. “Follow me now. You’ve been following me while I’ve been in your home town where you are comfortable now get on the boat and follow me to the unknown.” Jesus is calling for a radical and immediate commitment from his disciples to live new lives with him, on mission for him. Jesus is saying, I am the King and my commands are absolute and immediate. There is no ala carte option of discipleship, no rain checks where you say I’ll live for you later Jesus. Jesus doesn’t want halfhearted or delayed obedience. He is not interested in your empty promises to follow him when your life circumstances improve. I’ll begin to follow when….. Jesus knows if there is something you think is more important than following him today, even if it is removed or over, you will be captivated by something else tomorrow.
Let’s not misapply this. For some of you your ministry, your mission for Jesus is caring for an ailing relative or parent. There are great gospel opportunities in being with people during their end of life care and helping people with their funeral arrangements.
Jesus knows what is coming for his disciples. He knows those hoping to avoid pain, conflict, suffering, or tribulation will not last long as disciples. Christianity doesn’t make your life easier in many ways it will make it harder, but it will make it worth it. We can be charitably to these guys because the text isn’t clear if they followed or not. These men following Jesus is not the point, the point is for us to understand how costly it is for someone to follow Jesus. We need to have a clear understanding following Jesus has a high cost. It does no service to individuals or to a church to give a false impression the Christian life is easy.
JC Ryle – Nothing, in fact, has done more harm to Christianity than the practice of filling the ranks of Christ’s army with every volunteer who is willing to make a little profession, and to talk fluently of his “experience”. It has been painfully forgotten that the numbers alone do not make strength. …. Let us tell them plainly that there is a crown of glory at the end, but let us tell them no less plainly that there is a daily cross on the way.”
V23-26 Mission Reality
The call is given, the costs are laid out, it is time to move. Jesus gets in the boat and his disciples follow. This boat likely 26’x 8’ with a capacity of 10-15 people, not a small dingy, but not a large ship. The boat looks big and safe and stable when it’s on shore but soon after shoving off of ground the disciples realize how small it is compared to a sea(lake) larger then Chelan. Things would have been tight, people sitting close to each other on their way to the next mission. They should have smooth sailing as long as there is no weather. This boat is like a little church full of disciples on mission. A distinct group of people committed to following Jesus where ever he leads them. Bing on mission with is rarely smooth for long.
Matthew says, Behold! A great storm comes! Storms come quickly and they can be overwhelming. Storms are chaotic, Storms are destructive. Far from comfortable or stable raging water is all around them, beneath them, around them, above them, even running through them. Is this what the life of a disciple is really like? These are the guys who have left everything to follow Jesus. They are on a journey, and here they are in such a dramatic storm they are terrified they believe they are perishing. For the disciples who choose to follow Jesus on this journey they realize the high cost of discipleship may need to be paid immediately. Several of them were fishermen and experienced mariners. But this storm is so big no amount of expertise, or experience, or effort can keep the water from coming into the boat. They could bail and bail but they are no match for the crashing waves and wind. But through all of this, Jesus is with them. Jesus just told a scribe the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head and now he’s taking a nap in the back of the boat. God can rest in the middle of the storm because He is not worried about the outcome. When the waves got so high they couldn’t see beyond them the sailors call out to the carpenter. The disciples were wise to call out to Jesus with a three word prayer. Lord! Save! WE-Perish!
How does Jesus respond to being woken from his nap? He rebuked the disciples. Why are you afraid? One translation says “why are you such cowards?” Um the water is IN the boat, it is supposed to be OUT of the boat. Don’t you see how dire things are Jesus? We are moments from total destruction. This can’t be where you’ve called us to, this is beyond difficult this is dangerous. We’ve given up so much to follow you faithfully but now we are about to lose our lives. DA Carson “Faith chase out fear, or fear chase out faith”
What is your storm? Are you choosing faith or are you choosing fear? Faith in the midst of the storm is a choice, not the choice to follow Jesus; disciples already made that choice. Choosing faith in the midst of the storm when everything looks helpless, will you trust Jesus? When we doubt God’s goodness and power in the storm we are effectively saying God you’re asleep here. You’re not acting to save us. We are moment’s from perishing and you’re not doing anything to save us. We are practically acting like God is asleep. Why would God lead me into a storm? This should be smooth sailing, instead this hard.
Keller- If you say: I believed in God, I trusted God, and He didn’t come through, you only trusted God to meet your agenda.
Despite their small weak fickle faith, Jesus is going to save them. This is because it’s not the amount of our faith that matters, it is the object of it. Faith for faith’s sake, ignoring or minimizing the storms destructive power is foolish. Faith in Jesus, saves. There can be a lot of weakness and fear even in what we would call saving faith. But Jesus rebukes it none the less. His rebuke is really a loving reminder of who he is.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Why? Because he knows we are week and fearful, scared, worried, and can easily forget He’s with us in all the places he has commanded us to go.
Let’s not forget the lesson before Jesus calms the storm. This is about discipleship. There can be distress even in discipleship as Jesus calls you to new and unknown places. But these are “His disciples” so they have no real reason to fear. Jesus doesn’t just walk off the boat and leave them to fend for themselves. Jesus is on this boat and he gave an order he and his disciples to go to the other side. And if Jesus wants to get to the other side, Jesus is going to get to the other side. No mere tempest can thwart Jesus will. After rebuking the disciples and reminding them he is awake and aware of the danger, Jesus then he rebuked the storm and reminds the storm who he is. Mark 4:39 says he tells the storm “Peace, be still” be silent.
Psalm 46 1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling…. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Jesus is telling them to be still and know I am God. I can make the unclean leper clean with a word, and I can make a raging tempest calm with a word. This is an immediate end of the storms activity. Jesus has the power over it. Jesus is powerful his disciples are not, so we are to constantly call out to him with the assurance he is able to calm the storm with a word. The Christian life in this world is like being on a boat with Jesus is the storm. The storm will be silenced but as long as we are in this world that day is not today. John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
V27 Mission Purpose
Why the journey, why the storm? The disciples who had already decided to follow Jesus had a greater and deeper faith in Jesus as the mighty Savior-King on the other side of the sea then they did when they got in the boat. Over and over in Psalms it talks about the good, mighty and powerful God who calms the storm, parts the seas, and delivers His people to safety.
Ps 77:16- 2016 When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. 17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. 18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. 19 Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. 20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
The disciples growing up as Jewish boys would have heard these psalms sung, or read. When Jesus rebukes the storm and the storm obeys they realize He is not merely a man or faith healer he is God and King! Those songs sung in the synagogue talking about God delivering his people in the storm are really about Jesus. Remember Jesus lead them into the boat, he knew a storm was coming. Jesus is there and he wants to produce worshipers who will persevere in the midst of trial. Storms don’t last forever, they last as long as Jesus commands. Never forget there is always a purpose to every storm, every moment that we are fearful, every drop of suffering, you are not alone Jesus is there cry out to him
Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus endured the storm of the cross with the purpose of bring us over to the other side. Every moment of his suffering and wave of pain and ridicule he endured was infinitely and eternally significant. Do not lose heart. Disciples who have counted the cost and gotten on the boat, in the midst of the storm, Trust Jesus!
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 10, 2014Denying Jesus | Matthew 12:22-37 (Mville)