This was originally written for LRBC on July 23 2017.
Matthew 8:18-22 features two people who desired to be followers of Jesus, but lacked appropriate commitment. One, it seems, was too hasty. The other was too hesitant. Following Jesus requires us to have a clear view of who it is we are following. Without that we will not consider the price that following could cost us, or, having done that, to pay it.
So far in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus has made some remarkable claims about himself. He was the point of the Old Testament scriptures (5:17). He was the legislator of Kingdom of Heaven (5:21-48). He was the one that all would be brought before to meet as Judge at the end of all things (7:21). The fate of the condemned is described as exclusion from his presence (7:23). Every human’s destiny is to be decided on the basis of how they respond to his words (7:24-27).
Following these staggering claims, he demonstrates his power by his actions (8:1-17), yet we find that his power is coloured by the embrace of those who could expect to be excluded: finding a place in his kingdom is not so hard as some might be led to believe.
Perhaps these things do not grip us in the same way it gripped the people that heard and saw these things for themselves. That is understandable. We were not present, and these things – although astounding in any culture – would have been more meaningfully shocking to the Galilean people of Jesus’ day. That is why we must reflect on them carefully. That way we will be able to properly consider the cost of discipleship, be willing to actively pay it, and then actually start following him. The coming of Jesus brought light and life to the darkened and dead state of humanity (4:12-17). For those who can accept it, the Kingdom calls us to a new way of life that interrupts the normal rhythms and responsibilities of everyday living.
The call of Christ still waits to be answered.