18th February 2023
Read (Matthew 8v18-22)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
What do you make of a statement like this - "The Christian life rarely knows the endless warmth of the summer sun but more often the cold and biting winds of winter." In other words the Christian will at times know good days but more often the Christian walk will be beset by difficulty. Is that the faith you signed up to?
Jesus was about to travel to the other side of the lake when he was confronted by a scribe who boldly told Him "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." (v18-19). The Lord's response was filled with challenge. Jesus said “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (v20). Firstly, who was the Son of Man? This is a title that Jesus uses to describe Himself and we find it in Daniel 7v13-14 where an everlasting kingdom is given to one like a son of man.
Jesus is the Son of Man and whilst foxes have holes and birds have nests, the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. The scribe promised to follow Jesus wherever He went, but the Lord offered a gentle warning - Christ had no place to call home. It's lovely to finish a long trip and finally to get home and climb into your own bed. Home is a place of comfort and safety. It is a place where you can relax and be yourself. You can come home and close the door and leave the world outside. But Christ's comment shows that His life was not one of ease and therefore the follower of Jesus can expect the same.
Another follower of Jesus said "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." (v21) and this drew another challenging response from Christ who said "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead." Does Jesus here ban us from attending family funerals? No. While the Lord's response seems incredibly harsh we would do well to understand His point. Simply, Jesus counsels us that the Christian faith requires extraordinary commitment.
Commitment is a dirty word in 2023 and anyone demanding a stronger Christian commitment sounds a little bit too harsh and a little bit legalistic. But if we love the Lord and we bear His name then we simply must hear His voice. Christ tells us that to be His follower is to count the cost. In this world we can expect trouble for the sake of Jesus, we can expect to scorned for the sake of Jesus and we can expect lack of ease for the sake of Jesus. The faith calls us to commitment and sacrifice and frankly all of us shrink a little bit at such words.
I don't know who reads these devotions and so I can't speak for any of you. Instead I'll speak for myself. At times my Christian walk is self-centred and half-hearted. I am neither hot nor cold but instead lukewarm. Sometimes I can't be bothered and daydream about the easier path.
May God forgive me.
I today remind myself of a quote that I once read almost everyday. A man called CT Studd gave up fame and fortune in England for a life of dangerous mission work in China. Studd said "If Jesus Christ be God and died for me then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."
Brothers and sisters, count the cost of following Christ and understand that the road to glory is beset on all sides with difficulties and trouble. It is a tough road and a narrow road but it is the only road that leads to heaven. May the Lord put strength in our legs and eagerness in our hearts and may we learn once more that there is nothing in this world that compares to Christ.
Q80 What is required in the tenth commandment? The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.