Daily Devotional

March 1, 2021

Daybreak: Matthew 8:1-34

“And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matthew 8:21-22)

I was saved when I was a teenager, and one of the first people I told about my salvation was my favorite cousin. Since I really wanted her to be saved, I often spoke to her about Jesus. Several times I invited her to go to church with me, but she always refused. One day, after one of my many invitations, she told me that she liked our church and would become a member some day — after she had buried her mom. 

My cousin and I come from a culture where funeral ceremonies are very important, especially for older parents. People in our culture go deep into debt to give their deceased parents a “proper” burial. They spend immense amounts of money on party clothes, food, drinks, and gifts for those who attend the funeral ceremony, which could go on for days. A year after the burial, another memorial ceremony is held that could involve additional expenses. In some cases, these ceremonies continue annually for the next five years! If a family does not provide these parties, they are ridiculed as being stingy and disrespectful to the deceased.

Of course, Christians abstain from such frivolous and ostentatious spending. In fact, Christians are sometimes described in our culture as “people who do not bury their dead” because of their refusal to follow this custom. My cousin knew that if she gave her life to God before her mother died, she would not be able to have those excessive parties. As a result, she told me that she would serve God after she had buried her mother. She did not pay attention to Jesus’ instruction, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” Ironically though, my cousin’s mother is still alive today at the age of almost eighty and my cousin died when she was barely fifty years old. She never came to church with me, and I have no assurance that she was saved before she died. 

Jesus was always direct with those who came to Him, laying out the requirements so they would count the cost of following Him. Today, as back then, He requires complete loyalty. Even family loyalty must not take priority over obedience to Him. Are you clinging to something in your life that is hindering your relationship with God? Relinquish it! The decision to serve God wholeheartedly should not be postponed, even though other loyalties compete for your attention. Purpose to give God first place in your affections and goals. You do not know how much longer you have in this life. If something is standing between you and God, give it to Him — and watch Him bless your life in ways you never thought possible!

Background

In verses 1-17 of this chapter, Matthew confirmed Christ’s messianic office by highlighting His power to heal. 

First, Jesus healed a leper by touching Him. Touching a leper was a violation of the Law, but Jesus’ touch overcame the leprosy. He instructed the cleansed leper to show himself to the priest, as the Law required that the priest verify the leprosy was gone before the man could be restored to his community.

Next, Jesus healed a centurion’s servant of palsy. The fact that Jesus would even enter the house of a Gentile centurion would certainly have been repugnant to the Jews of that time, but Jesus went further and healed a member of the centurion’s household. Rather than downplay this fact, Jesus emphasized it by saying that this Gentile had more faith than any Jew He had seen.

When Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, the Scripture says that He touched her hand, and the fever left, showing that He had power over the physical causes of illness.

In verses 18-22, Jesus taught about the cost of following Him. Many wanted to follow Him because of His power to heal, but Jesus encouraged them to count the cost and put aside any expectations they might have for following Him.

Matthew next recorded how Jesus demonstrated His authority over weather by commanding a storm on the Sea of Galilee to cease. The Sea of Galilee is a relatively small body of water (13 miles long and about 7 miles wide) but it is approximately 150 feet deep and the shoreline is more than 600 feet below sea level. Because of this, sudden storms can build up at the summit of the surrounding mountains and create 20-foot waves on the surface of the sea. Although many of Jesus’ disciples were experienced fishermen, the ferocity of this particular storm terrified them, and they woke Jesus from sleep, crying to Him to save them. Through His calming of the storm, His disciples realized that He not only had power over sickness, but He also had power over the elements.

Finally, Jesus proved His kingship by demonstrating His power and authority over demons. The storm passed, and Jesus and His disciples landed at the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the country of the Gergesenes. The Gergesenes were apparently Gentiles, since they kept pigs. (Jews did not raise pigs because they were deemed unclean animals.) Jesus’ deliverance of the two demoniacs was complete. The men, who had been a horror to the people around them, were freed. As a result of this great show of power (and loss of pigs), the Gergesenes desperately wanted Jesus to leave their country. Again, Jesus’ ministry was rewarded with rejection, but for the men who had been possessed by a legion of devils, Jesus’ ministry meant complete victory. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III.   The proofs of the King’s claims
      A.   Authority over sickness (8:1-17)
            1.   The leper (8:1-4)
            2.   The paralytic (8:5-13)
            3.   The fever (8:14-15)
            4.   Summary: all diseases (8:16-17)
      B.   Authority over men (8:18-22)
      C.   Authority over nature (8:23-27)
      D.   Authority over demons (8:28-34)

A Closer Look

  1. What was Jesus’ response to the Gentile centurion who made a request to Him?
     
  2. Why do you think some continued to question Jesus’ authority after these miracles were done?
     
  3. How has Jesus demonstrated to you His authority over Satan?

Conclusion

Jesus’ miracles showed that He is the Master of the universe and nothing physical or spiritual in all creation is outside of His authority. His kingship is beyond dispute!

Reference Materials