Friday, September 10, 2021

The Vision (9.10.21): Too fast or too slow to follow Christ


Image: Pear tree, September 2021, North Garden, Virginia

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 8:14-22.

And a certain scribe came and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest (Matt 8:19).

And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father (Matt 8:21).

After healing many who were sick of spirit and body (Matt 8:16), Christ left the home of Peter to cross to the other side of Galilee (v. 18). As he departed, two men cried out to him.

The first cry came from a scribe (v. 19). He said, “Master [didaskalos, teacher], I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”

This seems on the surface like a solid declaration of faith and confidence in Christ. But Christ’s response indicates that perhaps this man made this declaration without first fully understanding or considering the costs.

His words remind us of Peter who said in the upper room to Christ: “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet I will never be offended” (Matt 26:33). And: “I will lay down my life for thy sake” (John 13:37). Within a few hours, however, Peter had denied three times that he even knew Christ.

Christ thus says to this scribe who offered this great swelling promise of fidelity: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (v. 20). You are ready to follow me anywhere? Are you ready to be home-less? Are you ready to give up every material attachment for me?

The second cry came from another of his disciples (v. 21). This fellow asked for an extension for the commencement of his discipleship, a delay for taking up his cross daily and following Christ: “Lord [kurios], suffer me first to go and bury my father.”

Charles Spurgeon quipped: “The first man was too fast, the second was too slow” (Commentary on Matthew, 87).

This seems art first glance like a reasonable and even a lawful request (in light of the fifth commandment), but Christ answers in what might seem to be a rather stern and unsparing manner: “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (v. 22).

Christ’s point, of course, is not to be heartless in his response, but to demonstrate to this man the necessary priority of discipleship. Christ must be above all duties and every relationship. Christ will later tell his disciples:

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Let us then not be too fast or too slow to follow Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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