September 11, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Thursday after the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 81, 1 Kings 2:1-12, 2 Cor. 12:1-13
Evening – Psalm 80, Mt. 8:14-27

Commentary, Matthew 8:14-27

Jesus is still in Capernaum beside the Sea of Galilee.  The people who had heard the Sermon on the Mount were shocked because He spoke as though He had authority to give the true meaning of Scripture and to define what it means to have real, Biblical faith.  He did not speak as a man trying to comprehend the word of God; He spoke as God explaining His word to humanity.  Thus, His words were a demonstration of His Divine authority. 

Immediately following the Sermon Christ began to demonstrate His authority in a series of Divine acts, and words.  In tonight’s reading we see Him healing Peter’s mother in law.  “He touched her hand and the fever left her” (Mt. 8:16).  Word of this healing spread throughout Capernaum, and by evening a large crowd of sick and demon possessed people gathered at Peter’s mother in law’s house.  Jesus then “cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick.”

Matthew, returning to his intention to show Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament, says the healings were done “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took out infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”

Verses 18-22 recount the conversation of a scribe and Christ.  Jesus was preparing to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, to the country of the Gergesea, also called Gadarenes by Mark.  He wanted to leave Capernaum because of the press of the people, and because, by now, people were coming to Him simply to be healed of physical illnesses instead of to receive the Kingdom of Heaven.  Before Christ entered the boat, a scribe came to Him saying, “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”  Christ told the man He was homeless and offered none of the comforts the scribe could purchas for himself with his lucrative income.  Christ was saying His followers must be willing to suffer hardship and deprivation.  Those unwilling to do so should not attempt to follow Him.

After the scribe another man, one of the disciples asks to be allowed to bury his father before following Christ further.  But Christ says, “Let the dead bury the dead.”  In other words, let those who have not the life of Christ in them carry on the things of the world.  Let those who have, or desire the life of Christ in them (we would call it “salvation”) follow Christ.  It is important to note that Christ is not allowing us to neglect our normal duties to family and others.  He is talking to a man who says he wants to become a student of Christ, sharing His hardships and learning of Him.  The man is saying he will give up everything to follow Christ on His journeys and ministry, only, “suffer me first to go and bury my father.”  Christ’s answer is really a question; do you really intend to leave everything and come with me?  Then leave the other things to those who do not know Me or want to follow.  But decide what you will do, then do it.

Verses 23-27 relate the well-known calming of the sea.  The story has two messages.  First, Christ has power only God can have.  Therefore, He is God.  Second, trust God.  If it was in His plan to see them safely to the shores of Gergesea, He would do, storm or no storm.  If it were His intention to take them to Heaven by drowning them in the sea, then even the calmest weather and a smoothest sea could claim them.  Therefore, “why are ye fearful?”  The answer is in the second part of the Lord’s question, we are “ye of little faith.”