GOD WITH US:
Walking with Jesus
Matthew 8:18 – 27
Matt. 8:18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side.
19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.
24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.
25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”
26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matt. 8:18-27 ESV)
~ Read John 5:25-29 ~
This past Sunday, we talked a bit about discipleship. What does it mean to really follow Jesus? I cannot tell you how many people I have talked with who desire to follow Jesus, but there is something they feel like is keeping them from doing so. This generally is the result of not understanding the authority and even reality of who Jesus is. The text you have read today tells us that the power of life is in the words of Jesus (25). Wow! If you read back one verse you will see how verse 24 sets up this section. He is talking about eternal life. When we come to Jesus, the reward of following him outweighs anything we could ever possibly think is keeping us from him. That is really a powerful realization. There is nothing in this world or in your life that could be more valuable than the “life” offered to you in following Christ! The dead shall surely come to life.
Talk it out:
Reading through this passage, where does Jesus’ authority over life come from? Where do you see your answer in the text?
What are the things that you are making more important than the eternal life in Jesus?
How does this impact the way you worship the Lord in your own life?
~ Read Psalm 104:1-9 ~
This is a Psalm of praise for the sovereign power of the Lord. If you have the time, I would encourage you to keep reading. Read the whole Psalm and allow the statements of the Psalmist to encourage your heart as you think about the Glory of our God. As we have talked about many times throughout our series in Matthew, his desire as he sets forth his gospel is to elevate and reveal the Glory of who Christ is. I think Matthew would celebrate victory if those who read his gospel were drawn to a heart of praise, as in this Psalm we read today. Our God is a powerful, sovereign God who has brought all things into being. And Jesus Christ is His Son who shares in his being yet is distinct in his person. This is why the believer should erupt with praise of Jesus in comparison to this Psalm.
Talk it out:
This Psalm has listed all the reasons why God should be praised. What would be the first five things on your list if you wrote one in praise to Jesus?
Read through this Psalm one more time… What are the parts of the Psalmist’s description of God’s power that were most impactful to you?
How would you compare the description of Jesus’ power in Matt. 8:23-27 with the description of God’s in this Psalm?
How does this impact your heart as you approach the throne of Jesus to worship?
~ Read Matthew 16:24-28 ~
So far this week we have talked a bit about the benefit of following the powerful, life-giving savior Jesus Christ, but we do not often talk about the costs. Hear the bold words of Jesus saying, “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” This is a difficult teaching. Most people would think that if you give yourself into service of the most powerful being, then things only move upward. I guess eternally this is true, but Jesus teaches that following him can actually be a difficult thing in this life. “Take up your cross” is something that Jesus’ disciples would not have fully understood.
When we give our lives to Christ, we become concerned with his judgement only. We are concerned with honoring him in obedience, knowing that when he returns everyone will be kneeling before him answering to his judgement. This ultimately means that when we choose to honor Christ right now, we may experience some adverse judgement from the world in which we currently live. Jesus essentially tells us to “suck it up” and keep following him. Though difficult, following Christ is a life-giving choice. I pray you have made that choice today.
Talk it out:
What do you think the text means when it says, “deny himself”?
Restate, in your own words, what verse 25 is saying?
What does the teaching of this section mean for you and your commitment to follow Jesus?
~ Read Luke 18:18-27 ~
Most everyone knows the story of the rich young man/ruler. Verse 17, right before, says “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” What does receiving the kingdom like a child mean? Jesus describes the negative – what it looks like for someone to NOT enter the kingdom of heaven. Sounds kind of harsh doesn’t it. But, this is probably the best way for Jesus to get across his point. We all tend to think we understand and we are in line with what Jesus wants, until we hear a story like this one that tells us that what we think he wants may not be on point. This young man thought he had displayed all the necessary qualities to be someone treasured by Jesus (receive eternal life), but ultimately, he was unwilling to lay it all down for a life of serving Christ. This is a much more difficult task than we give credit. The rich young man is so much more like us than we realize. He was hoping that his peripheral obedience would justify his internal lust for what he had built. What is most convicting to me is the way he presented himself as one who has labored to do all that Jesus wants in order to sustain luxury and find divine blessing over the life he was leading. This passage is a difficult one to swallow when it hits us this close to home.
Talk it out:
How would you respond if Jesus looked into your eyes and said the exact same thing to you that he said to this young man? Be honest…
How does the metaphor in verse 25 amplify this point for us? Does this mean no one who has not sold all their stuff and given to the poor will be able to enter the kingdom?
Briefly describe what you think verse 27 means… What does this mean to you?
~ Read John 10:22-30 ~
John chapter 10 may be one of the more powerful chapters in his gospel. If you have the time, spend it reading through this entire chapter. Then when you are done, move on to the final discourse (chapters 13-17), read and be blessed ??! In this chapter of the book of John, Jesus is described as the Great Shepherd. We have all probably heard people call him that before. In this text Jesus is rebuking those who want more data regarding whether or not he is the Christ. Does this sound like people you know? Seems like everywhere I turn, I hear people tell me they just need a little more proof. Jesus responds by telling them the reason they do not believe is simply because they are not his sheep! They cannot hear his voice.
Ironically, Jesus clearly tells them who he is in this text and they pick up stones to go kill him. They did not expect to hear that he was the Son of God and more blatantly, God himself. One of the problems in our world is that people want proof of who Jesus is, but when they get it, they hate the proclamation! The sheep who belong to him, however, hear his word – believe – and receive life!
Talk it out:
What are some of the things you or people you know want to know about Jesus that may be stopping them from believing?
According to verse 28, what is the great benefit of being in the sheepfold of Jesus? Are you one of Jesus’ sheep? Do you know how beautiful your inheritance actually is?
How do sheep honor their shepherd? Think about it, can they do anything for him other than obey him? How does this impact your obedience to Christ?