Jesus’ command to depart to the other side of the lake apparently instigated a few men to seek to follow Jesus. Matthew tells us of two misinformed men who came to Jesus about following him and instead of finding a warm welcome, they find some very intense responses. Readers, like you and me, are caught-off-guard by Jesus’ response to would-be disciples. He really does a job on the popular notion today of being “seeker-friendly.” The first man is enthusiastic and the second is somewhat lackluster. Neither one prove to be sincere disciples. These two men will serve as warnings for us and will allow for a few teaching points. We will discover some of the things that Jesus is looking for in his followers and we will be made aware of the risks of following Jesus. You will really need to reconsider the hymn that we sing, “Where he leads me I will follow … I’ll go with him all the way.”
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
A Certain Scribe Came [vv19-20]
This man had to have been a follower of Jesus to some extent because the second man is called “another” disciple meaning that the scribe was also some type of disciple. At this point, the twelve disciples (Apostles) have not been set apart from the masses with a formal authorization. So, the word “disciple” covers a wide range of people. There were some who were interested in Jesus’ ministry, others who were caught up in his healing ministry, and others who were beginning to believe in him.
Scribes were themselves authorized teachers of the Law. In Matthew’s Gospel we often find the scribes together with the Pharisees. They did run together and they did think along the same lines. Remember, in Matthew 5:20 Jesus says, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Scribes were not considered favorably by Jesus or Matthew because of their hypocrisy and legalism. Jesus harshly criticizes them in Matthew 23:2-5 by declaring, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men.” To say the very least, scribes were not the most likely men to become disciples of Jesus.
The scribe is overly-keen as he comes to Jesus. At first you may think that he is respectfully approaching the Lord because he calls him “Teacher.” Yet, in Matthew’s Gospel those who refer to Jesus as Teacher are those who do not fully understand who he is. The scribe embellishes his willingness to follow Jesus as he says, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” One of the most obvious entailments of true discipleship is the homelessness aspect of Jesus’ ministry. He had found some kind of station in Capernaum, but he truly had no home. He would not stay in that town or even in that region for long amounts of time. Jesus’ response has some shock value because even the animals have a place that they can call “home” whether it is a hole or a nest, but Jesus has no true home on earth. To be a disciple is to be a part of his mission on earth. The scribe needed to “count the cost” of discipleship before making such a declaration.
Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man” when he says that he has no place to lay his head. The title can refer to one of three things: Jesus’ mission in humanity, his suffering, or his glory. We must look at the context in which Jesus uses the title for himself to know what he means by it and even then it can be very vague. In this context, Jesus realizes that the miracles that he has performed among the people have attracted many fans who themselves may not understand what his ministry is really all about. He was on a mission which required that he constantly be on the move and those who wanted to be involved in the ministry would have to make the necessary adjustments as well. Jesus does not reject the scribe for discipleship, but does warn him.
Another of His Disciples [vv21-22]
If the first man who came to Jesus aspiring to follow him was too hasty in his decision, the second acted too leisurely. On the surface he wanted to follow Jesus, but his heart was in another place. He was willing to put ceremonies and rituals before Christ. This is not acceptable. Men and women must count the cost of following Jesus, but can have no reservations after they have made the decision. There will be events in life that will tempt your eyes to drift from your master’s lead and tempt your feet to stray from the path he has forged. If you thought Jesus’ response to the scribe was harsh, I’m not sure what you would think of his response to this next disciple. It is most commonly understood that Jesus means by his reply to “let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead.” At the very least, he determines to have followers who are single mindedly devoted to him. You can not confess with your lips what you are not willing to do with your hands and feet if you are going to follow Jesus. There is a proper response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ: believe in the person and accomplishments of Jesus Christ, repent of your sins and past unbelief, be immersed into him through the waters of baptism, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and Christ, and follow him without delay.
Connective: Both of these men showed some interest in following Jesus, but both were misinformed. Making the decision to follow Jesus is a tremendous and life-altering determination. You can not be hasty and make a decision without any thought to what you are doing. You can not be muddled about your decision either. Christ determines to have followers who are ever careful and single mindedly devoted to him. Let me ask you something:Are you following Jesus just to “see” something?
Or, are you following Jesus because you believe in him?
I’ll say it again: Christ determines to have followers who are ever careful in their considerations and single mindedly devoted to him.
But He was Asleep [vv23-25]
Sometimes following Jesus can lead you into a storm. This narrative belongs with the previous two accounts of men coming to Jesus seeking to follow him and demonstrates that genuine discipleship is difficult. Following Jesus is not always easy or pretty, sometimes you end up in a life-threatening storm. Remember, many of the twelve men that Jesus hand-picked for discipleship had been fishermen. They knew the waters well and had most likely been through some rough seas because it was common for storms to quickly gather on the lake, but Matthew tells us that they were so frightened this time that they actually believed that they were going to perish. One thing that is astonishing is that Jesus is not only unafraid or untroubled; he continues to sleep while the storm rages. The boat was flooding with waves, being tossed all over the place and Jesus can sleep because of exhaustion, but also confidence that his hour had not yet come.
The Winds and the Sea Obey Him [vv26-27]
What Jesus says as he opens his eyes and leans up from his place is calm and precise. He wants to know why they are fearful and calls them men of little faith. Though their faith was little, the disciples knew who to go to for help. The problem was their lack of faith in Jesus’ mission. If they truly believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the Christ who would redeem the people, then they would have to believe that he could not perish in a storm. The Lord is not subject to anyone or anything. Neither forces of nature nor demonic attacks can threaten the works of God.
Jesus has shown his authority and power over sickness, disease, and demonic forces; now he shows his authority and power over nature. One man said, “He may have less shelter than the beasts and birds of nature …; yet he is nature’s master …” (Carson, 214). Just as Jesus’ healing of disease was immediate, so is his rebuking of the storm. He rebuked the wind and the seas and there was not only a calm, but a “great” calm. By the word of his mouth order was brought.
On several occasions, the Old Testament attributes the control of the waters to God. Thus, Jesus shows himself to be God in the flesh as he stills the storm.
Psalm 65:5-7 says, “By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, And of the far-off seas;Who established the mountains by His strength, Being clothed with power;
You who still the noise of the seas, The noise of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples.”
Psalm 89:8-9 says, “O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord?You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them.”
When we read about Christ’s authority and power it should not be so much about what he can do for you than learning something about who he is. He is the one who can calm the storms with a word from his mouth. He is the one who can sleep as the boat is tossed about. He is the one who knows the hearts of men. Would you believe in the one who the winds and waves obey?
The Christian life is not as magnificent as one may first think. It is filled with heartache and trouble. Christians understand better than anyone the misery that is all around us. We understand that the results of the sinful nature are evident in the world because of the Fall and we know that those outside of Christ have no hope. Those of the world are skeptical of us and even attack us on many occasions. Yet, we do not throw pity parties for ourselves. When we meet together as the church, we do not have complaining sessions. We rejoice in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We have counted the cost of discipleship and we know that sometimes it can lead us into a storm. And the Christ who calmed the lake is the Christ who is with us always.
If you have not turned to Christ, then count the cost and make a commitment to him.If you have believed, then push forward with no reservations.
Those who persevere to the end will be saved.