Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August 2 - Matthew 8

Today's reading in our daily plan is Matthew 8. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • The chapter begins with the story of two men showing great faith. These men understand the power of Jesus so deeply that they know he can heal anyone just by speaking.
  • Centurions were Roman army commanders. They were posted throughout Israel because it had been taken over as part of the kingdom of Rome. This Centurion was not of Jewish background. Jesus was making the point that an outsider had more faith in him than his own people. 
  • Unsurprisingly, people flock to Jesus because of all the amazing miracles he performs. It's no surprise people beg to be near him. Jesus' response to those who ask to go with him may seem harsh, but he knows their hearts; he knows their motives are not right. They see his power and his popularity in the moment. What they don't see is the full, long-term cost of following Jesus.
  • We see one man in particular say he wants to follow Jesus after he buries his father. It's important to understand his father is not dead at this point. This is a way of saying he wants to stay home until  his father passes away. It could've been years. Essentially, he doesn't want to follow Jesus until it becomes more convenient. 
  • The stories about "demon-possessed" people may seem curious, but the Bible is clear that there are unseen spirits, both good and bad.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Jesus asks us to follow him. However, following him cannot be secondary to other pursuits; it's primary. Jesus demands and deserves to be first in our lives -- before family, before spouses, and before children. To give him anything less is to forget that he is God and that we are his creation.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What comes first in your life? Family, friends, career, going out? Where does Jesus fit into your life? Do you squeeze him into your schedule? Do you look for that convenient window of opportunity? If so, it will never come. Life will always throw demands and commands at you. Making Jesus first is simply a choice we have to make every day. Spend time in prayer asking God to help you prioritize your life according to his plans, not yours.