Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Matthew 8:18-34 Sermon Notes

Matthew 8:18-34
Sermon Notes: You can listen here: http://providencekirk.com/sermons/
Let the Dead Bury Their Dead
August 28, 2016
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Remember that Jesus ended the Sermon on the Mount with a storm. When the storm comes, will you stand. It is not, IF the storm comes, will you stand. The storm will come and some will stand and some will fall. Will you stand?
         What is a storm? Trials, sins, struggles, doubts, fears, enemies, sickness, poverty, scandal, failure, tremendous success, enmity from others, adulation from the crowd, homelessness, an expansive home, loneliness, popularity, a houseful of faithful children, a wayward child, honor, dishonor. Storms comes in many shapes and sizes. Storms with Jesus come in many shapes and sizes.
         What the storm does to you depends on where you are standing. If on sand, then the storm will take you into the abyss. If on rock, then will stand fast. Stand fast, therefore on the rock that is Christ.
         A man began to build but he did not measure the cost. Half way through the project, he ran out of money and left a half finished house. A half finished house is worse than no house.
         Have you measured the cost of following Jesus? Will you follow Him wherever He goes? Even if He has nowhere to lay His head? Even if that means that you must give up everything to follow Him? Many say this at the beginning of following Jesus but in time, the worries of the world and the cares of this life, choke out such a sentiment and then Jesus is here and you are over there. Jesus is where He should be. Where are you?

Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.  19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 
This is a common comment from a novice. Jesus is appealing and we are drawn to Him professing our allegiance. I will follow You wherever you go.

20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Will you? Jesus make it clear that there is a cost of discipleship. Remember that He finished the sermon on the mount with the warning of a storm. The storm will come. It comes into the life of the Christian and the non-Christian. How will you do when the storm arrives? Will you follow Jesus then?
This comment to the scribe seems to point out that he will not receive earthly pleasures by following Jesus. Jesus is homeless. If you want to follow Him, you will have to rely solely upon the grace of God. Are you willing to do that?

21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.  22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
Another disciple asked Jesus about burying his father before he follows Jesus. This is not a statement regarding the previous death of his father. He is asking to follow Jesus at some point in the future. He wants his inheritance first. But following Jesus is costly. It may cost you your inheritance. Are you willing to follow Jesus then?
Jesus says that the dead can bury their own dead. He is calling upon this man to choose between life and death.

Matt. 8:23   And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.  24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 
The disciples follow Jesus, even into the sea, even into a ship, even into a storm. Jesus was clearly exhausted. He sank into a deep sleep and was not even awakened when His life was in danger.

25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 
When we are in danger, it is appropriate to say, Lord, save us! But we should do so from a position of confidence in Jesus resolving to serve Him faithfully whether by life or by death.

26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?
Will you serve Jesus in a storm? Will you serve Him if He leads you into the storm? Will you serve Him if He sleeps through your storm? The word here rendered fear can also mean cowardly. They are not just afraid. They are being craven. They are not facing the storm with fortitude and resolve. Jesus rebukes them for this.

Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
Is Jesus in your boat? Then why do you fear? He may let the storm rage for awhile but when He arises to rebuke the winds and the sea, there will be a great calm.

27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
These men are his disciples. They are still figuring out who Jesus is. What manner of man is this? Just this, the Godman. Once we know that He is the Godman, it should not surprise that the wind and sea obey Him. He can command them with a word because He created them with a word.

Matt. 8:28   And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 
No man could pass by but Jesus was no mere man. They sought to do Him harm until they saw who He was.
My friend Toby Sumpter pointed at that these are two storms, the storm of sea and the storm of demon-possessed men. Jesus calms them both.
Note that the demons reside in the place of the dead. The interest in things Goth, darkness, black lipstick and fingernail polish arises from the same place. These are where the dead reside.

29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 
The demons recognize Jesus faster than the people.
Jesus has just called Himself, Son of man, a name He uses often. But He really is the Son of God and the demons declare this truth. What torment are the demons talking about? Surely, they are aware of judgment from God. Furthermore, they know it is not yet time for that judgment. I suspect they are talking about the final judgment. However, the Bible also talks about the cross being the place where Jesus made an open display of His enemies and triumphed over them in it.

30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
Jesus was in a Gentile dominated area. He is in Galilee, north of Samaria. Remember that the ten northern tribes had fallen in 722 BC to the Assyrian Empire. They carted off the people and re-peopled the land with Assyrians. So, it is not surprising that there were large herds of unclean animals in the land.

31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.  32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
This is a particularly curious incident. Again, as we get to know Jesus, we should pay attention to the sorts of things that He does. His actions often conflict with what we would do, what we would expect a godly man to do. And when this conflict arises, Jesus in not the one who needs censored.
The demons ask permission to go into the herd of swine and He grants it. He could have refused their request. I am not sure what that may have entailed? Perhaps he could have sent them into a hive of bees or an ant hill. If He had, things would have been a lot less messy. But that is not what He does. He chooses to send them into a large herd of pigs that then careen down the hillside into the sea.
Let’s figure about $300-400 per animal. Figuring $350, if there are 2000 swine, the total loss was about $700,000, in our today money. Can you imagine the impact of that in the ancient world? This was a large scale operation and Jesus was responsible for putting an end to it instantly.
Furthermore, they ran down the hillside into the sea and drowned. What happened next? The men who kept them fled into town to tell what Jesus had done. Maybe they brought back a huge butchering operation and got to work slaughtering the swine? But we do not get that sense in the passage. It seems that the pigs were killed and left to rot in the sea and on the shore. Two thousand rotting carcasses? The smell of death. Potential disease. And where did the demons go after they killed the swine?
Have you been around a stinking carcass? Just one stinking carcass is foul. How about a large carcass, like a deer, or a cow or pig. Now multiply that 2000 times!
Where is this all happening? In Galilee, of the Gentiles. But where is Galilee? It is in Israel. This land belongs to the Lord. This is the Promised Land given to the Israelites of old. It had long since been dominated by the Gentiles for over 700 years.
Does Jesus acquiesce to the Gentiles? Does He cut them slack about the rules that belong to Israel? No, He commands the demons and the demons kill the swine.
Who are the swine? Perhaps Jesus is just making the point that the land overrun by swine, needs to be cleansed. The swine rush into the sea. The sea in the Bible almost always refers to the Gentiles. That is where these animals go to die.
But this is Israel. Israel has been unfaithful. Jesus is not concerned about showing favor to Jews. He has just marveled at the faith of a Centurion. When Jesus sees great faith in God, He acknowledges it as real and worthy of honor.
Israel are the real swine. They have forsaken God’s law and been overrun with sin and rebellion, with disease and demons and unclean animals. They must rush into the sea and the land must be cleansed. Jesus is the one to do that. But they do not respond to Him in faith. They want Him to leave.

34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
Will you follow Jesus when he ruins your business and creates and ecological disaster? Only if you believe that He is the Son of God. But the demons believe and shudder. It is one thing to believe that Jesus really is the Son of God. The demons did so. It is quite another to fully submit yourself to Him.
But the people, when they saw His power and authority did not follow Him. Perhaps the disapproved of His condemnation of them in allowing the demons to kill the swine?
Will you follow Jesus?
1.   If you must forsake your home and follow Him where you do not know?
2.   If you must give up your inheritance? Many other religious people must do so including Muslims, Hindus, Jews.
3.   If following Jesus is scandalous against the times? Standing against the PC wisdom of the day? Sexual confusion, failed leadership in the churches, biblical teaching on marriage, child rearing, church worship, attendance and membership, the authority of man over the earth and its resources.

When Jesus causes trouble in all of these areas, will you beseech Him to depart? Or, will you bow the knee?

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