Matthewby Mike Raiter
It would be hard to remain unimpressed by Jesus' miracles. For some people, such wonders lead to genuine faith. For others, they engender only superficial allegiance to Jesus, not the kind of costly discipleship He is looking for.
Before Matthew gives us more examples of Jesus' powerful authority, he reminds us of the character of true discipleship. We are given two examples of would-be disciples who must learn that following Jesus means putting Him first (vv. 18-22). Jesus is not introducing any new laws here. He is not saying that homelessness, an itinerant lifestyle, and disregard for one's family are necessary prerequisites for discipleship. Far from it! The Bible states that we have a God-given responsibility to care for our family (see 1 Timothy 5:8). Yet, submitting to the lordship of Jesus relativises all these other relationships (Matthew 10:37). As thousands of missionaries will testify, sometimes the demands of the kingdom will mean leaving family and home.
Jesus has the right to make such exclusive demands because of who He is. Matthew gives us two more breathtaking snapshots of Jesus' unique authority. With a word He calms a violent storm (vv. 23-27). Psalms says that God, and God alone, controls the seas and the storms (Psalm 89:8-9; 135:6-7). Yet here creation submits to the voice of ″Immanuel″.
Then, on the other side of the lake in Gadarene, a largely Gentile territory, Jesus again demonstrates His total authority over all demonic forces. The demons ask God's Son not to punish them ″before the appointed time″ (v. 29), that is, before the final day of judgment. Jesus sends them, appropriately, into a herd of unclean animals. Invading the pigs, the demons demonstrate their essentially malevolent character, and immediately destroy the animals. Satan always comes to destroy, while Jesus comes to set free and bring life.
If all creation and all the forces of darkness bow immediately at this man's authoritative word, what should we do? How can we put home, family, career, money, hobbies, or addictions before Him? Now is the day for all to submit to Jesus, ″before the appointed time″.
Take my life and let it be,
consecrated Lord to thee . . .
Take my will and make it thine,
it shall be no longer mine . . .
How can you reconcile being loving and responsible towards your family, and being obedient to Jesus' exclusive demands?
Why do you think the people ″pleaded with him to leave″ (v. 34) after Jesus cast out the demons? What different responses have you witnessed from people to displays of the power and authority of Jesus?