Following God Wherever and Whenever Matthew 8:15-22
Following God Wherever and Whenever Matthew 8:15-22 LMPC Dr. Ben Sloan 4-2-17
Have you ever thought that you could get something for almost nothing? Have you ever undervalued the valuable? This past week we celebrated the 150 anniversary of the purchase of Alaska. Alaska was bought 3/30/1867 for $7.2 million from Russia- roughly two cents an acre. This is the same Alaska that fueled the gold rush and oil pipeline. Native Americans had no say in the deal.
On May 24, 1626 Peter Minuit bought the island of Manhattan from Indians for goods and trinkets totaling $24. Thus, the reputation of Wall Street began. The Homestead Act that helped start Oklahoma allowed anyone over 21 who had not taken up arms against the United States to buy 160 acres of land for the application fee of $18. This law continued in Alaska until 1986.
The story in Matthew 8 is of people who wanted to strike a deal with Jesus. Both the dealmakers sound good to our ears- and that may be the problem. They wanted to follow Jesus cheaply. They didn’t want to be disciples, they wanted to be fans of Christ. Bonhoeffer said, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ” (COD p. 64). It is clear in this passage that they were willing to follow Christ and give things up for Him if it was convenient for them.
Generally, the more we invest in something with time and effort, the more we value it. The more time and money you spend on your home the more you treasure it. The more time and money you spend on your boat, the more you value that in your life. The more time and money you invest in your children, the more you value them. But some how- when it comes to religion we think we can spend little time, invest ourselves at a minimum and we will still be able to put God first and treasure Him? Where your treasure is there will your heart be also, is a call to invest in Jesus Christ- not partially or half way- but to be committed.
JESUS DID NOT HAVE A HOME- But it doesn’t matter. Jesus was basically saying, will you follow me even if you don’t know where you are going? Do you value me more than the security of place and things? When we do not value Jesus, we degrade Him, and disrespect Him.
The father of our faith- the one who teaches us to have faith is Abraham. His very first step of faith is described by Hebrews 11: “By faith Abraham when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents… for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Jesus did have a home, and he was willing to temporarily live in a manger, or in exile in Egypt, or as a backcountry carpenter in Nazareth, or as a homeless teacher throughout the land, in order to invite and point people to the One True Home we all have. Jesus did not have a schedule- except for being in Jerusalem at Passover to die. He didn’t make reservations all throughout Judea and Galilee about where he was going to stay. He spent his last night praying in an Olive Grove while his disciples slept under the stars. He was historically late when people wanted him to hurry up and help them. He didn’t have a meal plan set up to feed the 5,000. But the funny thing is it all turned out okay. Even the pain of the cross was redeemed. Even the 5,000 got fed. But to follow Jesus means you may not have it all figured out, lined up. You may think your ducks are all in a row- but you do not know. The man says, “I will follow you anywhere.” Now the context of this is that Jesus saw the huge crowds and he decided to go to the other side of the lake. Not exactly good church-building strategy. You are supposed to go where the crowds are. You are supposed to make things easy for the crowds to follow. Today we think if we can make things easy people will follow. We do not follow Jesus because we have the best air conditioning, the most fun youth group, the best nursery program. If that is why you follow, you will not follow long. Jesus didn’t make it easy to follow Him. Instead he gave orders to get in a boat to cross over. THAT is when the man said, “I will follow you anywhere.” He didn’t know what he was saying. It is similar to what happened before Jesus’ arrest when Jesus predicted they all would run away. Peter said, “I will never disown you. I will follow you anywhere. I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus then told Peter he would disown him three times before the rooster crows. Peter had good intentions. Maybe this other guy did too, but they did not really count the cost. It is not easy to be a Jesus follower. In our Post Modern World where people say there is no real truth- to say I truly follow Jesus Makes quite a statement and rattles some. They will say you are old fashioned. They will say you are not keeping up with the times. Why would you want to follow someone who cannot do more for you physically and financially right here and now? People who love you may say you are going overboard.
Do you know what happened after Jesus talked to this guy? He and his disciples got into a boat, a storm came up and they almost drowned- how terrible! But then something else happened. The people that followed Jesus- in that boat got to see him calm the sea with his word. Let me tell you the way you are going to see God work is to look for Him to do it- and to follow Him. Don’t give up because it is hard or inconvenient to follow Christ. Not for a minute.
JESUS WANTS US TO STOP PUTTING HIM OFF- The other guy in this story said, “Let me bury my father.” It wasn’t that the funeral was about to take place. In Jewish law you buried someone the day they died. He wasn’t saying, “Wait a minute” but “wait a few years.” He was saying, when my father dies, and my estate gets settled, then I’ll have enough money to come and follow you. It was a little bit like the guy who says, “I’ll give to the church when my ship comes in; or when I win the lottery; or when I settle my parents’ estate.” Jesus’ reply was to let the spiritually dead bury the dead. Let me tell you, this was no ordinary man asking him to follow- it was God in the flesh. To make Him wait and to use family as an excuse was again disrespecting Jesus. Jesus doesn’t want people who will say “I will follow you when it is convenient for me to do so.” He wants people who will follow Him in any circumstances- putting Him first. I hear this all the time. I will get serious about my religion but I am young and I have a lot of fun to take part in first. But the Bible says, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth.” I hear some others say, “We just got married, we have so much to do on our time off before the kids come.” We just had a child- we are not sleeping well. Let me start getting some sleep first. Well the kids are playing ball, playing tennis ,doing cheerleading, dancing- and they have to go out of town- there is really no room for God right now. Oh, I don’t mean I don’t believe or anything like that- I just can’t really pay that much attention. I will come to worship after football season is over. I will get serious about you God but my parents are aging. Look Jesus is looking you right in the face. He knows all about your parents, your kids, your fun, your work, your tiredness. But quit pushing Him off. If you are undervaluing Him, do you want Him to undervalue you? The Bible says to have no other gods before Him. Idolatry is turning the good thing into the ultimate thing. Stew is not more important than your inheritance; We are a culture that overvalues convenience and comfort. We want fast food, or microwavable food, faster washers and dryers, instant communication via email, text, twitter. The most radical way our love for worldly comfort and convenience shows is in the epidemic of drug use. In the last 17 years addiction to opioids is up 400%. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the US. 94% of heroin abuse begins with prescription drugs for pain. Never elevate your comfort over your God. People addicted to drugs are really addicted to the dopamine in their brains caused by their drugs- their comfort. This week at USC another young person lost their life to drug use. President Trump mentioned it is a huge problem in the NE and NH. No one disagrees with that. Do not let your comfort your convenience control you. Do you teach discipline and self- control to your children? I admit I have failed here. But God is more important than our comfort and convenience. Do not undervalue your eternal home and inheritance. Sometimes following Jesus is not comfortable or convenient- that is what Jesus is saying. Do you overvalue your comfort and undervalue your God?