Daily Devotion for September 27, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Holy Father, who watches over your children by night and by day; blessed Jesus, my food and my strength; sweet Holy Spirit, the light and guide of my soul; I thank you for this new day and pray that you will watch over me. May my thoughts, my words and actions reflect the Spirit that dwells within me. And may every minute of my life celebrate the gift of grace, earned by the blood of Christ, in whose name I pray.
For the Forgotten
O merciful God, take pity on those souls who live this day alone, without friends or family, forgotten by all. Bring the comfort of your Spirit to them, I pray, and let them know the most blessed company of all. Grant them to find the consolation of friendship in this life, and bring them into the light of your word, so that when they pass from this life, they may find eternal joy.
For Open Eyes
Lord Jesus, light of the world, open my eyes to notice the magnificence of creation. Open my eyes that I may always value and appreciate all who are part of my life. Open my eyes that I may be quick to notice when people are going through difficulties. Open my eyes so that I share your vision and see truly and deeply, outside of myself.
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
"In those times we yearn to have more in our lives, we should dwell on the things we already have. In doing so, we will often find that our lives are already full to overflowing."
~ Jim Stovall
Matthew 8:18-22 (ESV)
Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Notes on the Scripture
Chapter 8, where we begin to follow Christ around, is a sort of “highlights reel” as He moves from the site of the Sermon on the Mount and crosses the Sea of Galilee (from west to east). It gives greater detail than the accounts of His very early ministry in Matthew 4, because He had begun to call the 12 apostles just before the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 4:18-22) Matthew 8 becomes more detailed about Christ's travels because people — His disciples — had begun taking notes.
After the Sermon, many were convinced and wanted to follow Christ. There were certainly many incidents such as those in today's verses, but Matthew chose two to illustrate a specific lesson: They warn of the dedication and commitment that will be required of Christ's disciples.
In the first paragraph, a scribe, who calls Jesus “Rabbi”, simply offers to follow Him. This is remarkable in itself. The scribes were the ultimate Pharisees, men in charge of reading, interpreting and keeping track of the law of Moses; like Paul some years later, this man is making a 180 degree turn, from foe to advocate.
Christ replies, rather cryptically, to remind him of something we often forget. Jesus was basically homeless for three years. So He means to warn the scribe that following Him means sharing His hand-to-mouth existence. (Christ “practiced what He preached”. Matthew 6:25-34)
The second incident has created some controversy among scholars. Many believe that the speaker's father could not have been dead, for Jews buried their dead almost immediately, “before the sun can set on the corpse”. So they speculate that the prospectiveProspective: (of a person) expected or expecting to be something particular in the future. disciple needed to care for an elderly or dying father, still alive. He didn't just need a day or two; he wanted to wait for his father's death, and thus fully discharge the duty of a child to a parent, before taking to the road.
Others speculate that this was one of the 12 apostles, particularly Philip, and there is some slight historical evidence that this might be true. (John recounts that Philip was called the day after Peter and Andrew. John 1:43-44)
These facts are interesting, but in terms of the lesson taught, irrelevant. The lesson is that if the speaker wants to follow Jesus, he needs to go ahead and do it. It is a black-and-white decision, without grey areas.
Although the commandment to honor one's mother and father was still fully functional, it collides head-on with a specific teaching of Christ in this particular circumstance, and must give way: one must be willing to leave one's nonbelieving family behind, if one is to follow Him and find life. We will have a fuller teaching on this in Matthew 10.
John related the principle very bluntly in John 12:25-26:
The lesson to us is the need for commitment, if one wants to follow Christ. A person accomplishes nothing by dilettantismDilettante: A person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, especially in a desultory or superficial way; especially, a person who does this repeatedly., and this is nowhere more true that in the greatest pursuit in life, the pursuit of righteousness before almighty God.