Summary: We as humans have a hard time giving up control of anything, but in order to find the abundant life Jesus offers, we must cede authority of our lives to Him, even if that means going into choppy waters.
We began last time by looking at Jesus as He came down from giving the Sermon on the Mount. He begins to demonstrate that it isn’t all talk—that He really is the coming King and controls His creation, both the visible and invisible. We see Him first approached by two people who really have no business coming before this king—one who is unclean by any standards—a man with leprosy. As the crowds no doubt parted to get away from this man he reaches out to the Savior and says “if you are willing you can make me clean.” Jesus says “I am willing. Be clean.” If we, being unclean in sin have the audacity to approach the Lord and ask for His cleansing we will hear Him say the same to us—“be clean.”
Then an officer of the Roman army comes—an enemy of Israel. Far from being hateful and condescending, this man pleads to Jesus to heal his beloved servant who lies paralyzed at home. Jesus offers to come but the man says he is not worthy of having Jesus come to his home. Rather than come, He simply needs to speak a word. In his own way, this centurion was telling Jesus that he was unclean—but had placed himself under the authority of the real King. Jesus, marveling at his faith, heals the servant.
So as we continue to look at Jesus’ power over creation we begin to ask, what power does He have over you and me? How much control are we willing to turn over to Him and what does that mean?
14 – 17
Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did not enter Peter’s house and wonder why no one was making dinner and so healed Peter’s mother in law. I’m sure it was out of gratitude that she rose. It shows also the complete healing Jesus gave to her. She may have suffered from Malaria. Jesus broke two rules in doing this. First, a rabbi was not supposed to touch a woman who was not his spouse, and secondly, by touching a person with a fever.
Now it wasn’t just a few here and there—they brought “many” who suffered oppression from the enemy or from sickness and Jesus “healed all who were sick.”
This does bring up a question. If Jesus healed these people, will Jesus always heal me, and if not, is there something wrong with me? The answer is: no. Jesus’ main mission was to heal our dead souls. His love and compassion led Him to heal physical maladies. It also served to corroborate who He was—King and Messiah by showing His ability to do miracles and be in control of the creation.
Jesus doesn’t instantly heal everyone who asks because His purposes are not always served that way. And if He doesn’t heal you now, when you come to Him you will be healed. And there is nothing wrong with you. We should indeed ask for healing, as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. God didn’t grant it then, explaining that God’s purposes were better served by him being sick. Paul said he was then “content” with that. Faith in Jesus means trusting and relying on Him—no matter what. Don’t trust your faith, trust in Him to decide.
18 – 22
Keep in mind that Matthew is grouping events thematically, not strictly chronologically, so if you look at the other gospels the events are in a different order.
First a scribe comes up to Jesus. This is unusual because the scribes were mostly enemies of the Lord. At least one seems willing to place his life under Jesus. But the Lord indicates that this man (and all of us) must understand the true cost of discipleship—that is giving up on all security and being willing to go anywhere and do anything the master says. We don’t know if the scribe responded.
Then another man approaches him, identified as someone already a disciple. He isn’t saying that his father has just died and he must attend to the funeral. The idea here is that he wants to fulfill his familial obligations before letting Jesus take control of his life. Jesus’ response could mean “let the dying bury the dead.” In other words, let those who are have not responded to the gospel worry about these obligations but those who are ready need to drop everything in favor of giving their lives to Jesus.
This doesn’t mean you simply abandon your family and go to live in a monastery. But it does mean that Jesus now has first place in your life.
23 – 27
Here Matthew shows what discipleship means—setting out on a journey where you can encounter fearful things. The fact that Jesus slept showed how human He was and the cost of His own mission. The disciples wanted Him to do something—Jesus wanted them to trust. As long as Jesus is in your boat nothing can happen to you that is outside of God’s will. Notice that Jesus simply speaks to the storm and it stops. Talk about being in control! I wonder if perhaps the enemy had something to do with this, not wanting Jesus to come near to his demon-possessed men on the other side. What sort of man is this? We are about to find out. Jesus has total authority over both the visible and invisible realms.