Reading for Wednesday, June 20: Matthew 8
Jesus’ power is on full display here in ch8. After 3 chapters of teaching, Matthew peppers us with stories of miraculous healing. We’re introduced to the leper who asks, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” We meet the centurion who comes to Jesus and simply asks for His healing word to be spoken. “You don’t even need to come to my home, Lord. Just say the word.” Jesus commends this man for his faith: “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith,” (v10). Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law along with a host of others, including the demon-possessed men at the end of the chapter. In all of this, Jesus’ power to speak new realities of healing is highlighted. In these miracles, the Kingdom of God has come near to the leper, the outcast, the Gentile, the demon-wracked.
Sandwiched in the middle are some hard sayings about discipleship. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Also: “Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead.” The disciples learn a difficult lesson on the water as a “furious storm” — in Greek, a seismos or “seismic event” — blows up. They cry out to Jesus, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” But Jesus calms the storm and allays their fear. They ask themselves, “What kind of man is this?”
This is the question of discipleship. The more we journey with Jesus, the more familiar He becomes. And yet, the more we journey with Him, the more we’re amazed at His person, His character, His power. We come to see Him as the most important figure in our lives, the only one who can make sense of our broken stories, our fractured experiences. He brings wholeness, completion, calm. It’s true: following Jesus will surely lead us to some unexpected places, situations where we, too, may have nowhere to lay our heads. But when the seismos of Jesus takes hold of us, nothing can ever be the same.
We’ve come to expect it from Him.