Matthew 8:23–24: The Cost of Following Jesus

Jesus expects that true disciples would be so compelled by His Kingdom mission and so convinced of its urgency and necessity that they will follow Him no matter the cost.

 

Matthew 8:1–4: Jesus Can Make You Clean

This passage marks the beginning of the second major section of Matthew’s Gospel account (Chapters 8-10). In this section, Matthew has arranged three sets of three healing stories, and has separated those three sets with a teaching about what it means to follow Jesus. Each of the healing stories contains rich layers of meaning that show us more facets of Jesus’s identity, character, and mission. As we consider these stories, we’re supposed to be learning more about who Jesus is, what He came to do, and what it means to follow Him.

In this first healing story, Jesus is approached by a man with Leprosy. In view of ritual purity laws, lepers were regarded as unclean people who were not permitted to enter Jewish holy places. Their uncleanness was also thought to be “ritually contagious” in that it would also make anyone who touched them unclean. Consequently, lepers were severely stigmatized and marginalized—they had no hope of restoring themselves to health or community. But instead of moving away from the unclean man as would have been expected, Jesus moves toward him and touches him. Instead of becoming impure, Jesus’s purity is transferred to the man, and He is cleansed. In this response, we see Jesus’ compassion toward the hurting, His power to heal, and His desire to restore people to the merciful presence of God and His people.

Matthew 7:15–23: Two Roads & Hidden Wolves

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is giving instructions for a flourishing life in God’s Kingdom; a beautiful vision for a life of love toward God and others. But we have all turned from His vision in various ways, and this is why Jesus has come. He was not merely a brilliant rabbi—He came to save humanity from our destructive plight and to establish a new Kingdom with a new people who follow His way of life. In this final section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives His followers three severe warnings: the two roads, the wolves, and the two houses. These warnings are aimed at steering people away from destruction and toward the eternal life of the Kingdom. Although the way of life that Jesus offers is beautiful, it is a challenging way to take because it is at odds with the sinful desires of our hearts and the lifestyle of the crowds who reject the wisdom of Jesus and continue toward destruction (the other “road”). For those who desire to follow the way of Jesus, He warns that there will be “wolves”—false teachers who may act like and talk like they are leaders sent from God, but are ultimately leading people away from God and toward destruction. You may not always be able to spot these wolves by their public activity, but you can spot them by their character and the fruit of their lives. Does their life show evidence of a genuine relationship with Jesus?

 

The Kingdom Movement: Matthew 28

Next week we’ll start Matthew Part III (where we’ll be all Spring). This week will be our last week of a related series, Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom, where we’re spending three weeks zooming out to get the big picture again.

 

The Kingdom & the Cross: Matthew 27:32–54

Before we start Matthew Part 3 (where we’ll be all Spring), we’re spending three weeks zooming out to get the big picture again. This is the second week of “Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom.”

 

The Kingdom Announcement: Matthew 4:23–25

Before we start Matthew Part 3 (where we’ll be all Spring), we’re spending three weeks zooming out to get the big picture again. This is week one of “Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom.” During this message, we’ll also here an announcement about Park Church Downtown.

 

Pastoral Words for the New Year: James 1:2–4

Over the first three weeks of this year, we will share three Pastoral Words that we pray will guide our church family into the New Year. Our first word is from James 1:2–4: God’s work in us as we encounter troubles.

 

Quest for Spirituality: Acts 17:22–34

It is normal for us to search for meaning and purpose through some sort of spirituality. This desire is an echo of God’s voice as we long to know Him, to have faith in Him, and to be in union with Him.

Matthew 7:12–14

His Kingdom is to be a realm where people treat one another with the honor, dignity, care, and love that they themselves desire. It’s a beautiful vision for life, and one that we all fall woefully short of. And that’s why Jesus came.