Daily Devotion for January 20, 2022
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.
Brahm’s beautiful setting of Psalm 84.
Prayer of Thanks for God’s Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye.
Bless me to remember you this day. When I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for Help with the Burdens of Life
Grant me, I pray, your divine helping grace; endow me with patience and strength to endure my tribulations with complete submission to your will. You know my misery and suffering and to you, my only hope and refuge, I flee for relief and comfort; trusting your infinite love and compassion, that in due time, when you know it is for the best, you will deliver me from my troubles, and turn my distress into comfort, and I will rejoice in your mercy, and exalt and praise your Holy Name, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
“[M]y thoughts are not your thoughts . . . .”
~ Isaiah 55:8
May the Almighty and merciful Lord graciously hear me, pardon and deliver me from all my sins, confirm and strengthen me in all goodness, and bring me to everlasting life; through my Savior, Jesus Christ,
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
"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)
ow 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(s), 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 prospective 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.
Philip the Apostle
Albrecht Durer 1505
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 speculations 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 significant by dilettantism; and this is nowhere more true that in the greatest pursuit in life, the pursuit of righteousness before almighty God.