The American Wisdom Series

Matthew #2516

The beginnings of "sorrows" (labor pangs) which precede the birth of a new age.

In our last several studies we saw where Jesus Christ had come down from the mountain where He had been teaching His disciples, and began the second part of His ministry showing that He is Lord by going among the people teaching and healing and casting out evil spirits with His Word. As a result of these wonderful works, great multitudes began to follow Him and in today's study we are going to see two examples of the "attitudes" among some of those in the multitudes when Christ gives them a command. Then we are going to see two examples of the power of the Word of God.

Let us begin with the lesson Christ teaches us concerning the "multitudes".

Matthew 8:18
Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
This is a simple direct command of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, to the multitudes, i.e. to the mainstream followers of Christ. Also, take notice of the fact that there are no conditions with respect to His "commandment to depart to the other side". So when you think about it, since this is a commandment directly from the Lord Jesus Christ, wouldn't you think that all who claim to be His followers would keep it by obeying it without any questions or doubts or excuses? Well, keeping His commandments depends on how much a person truly loves the Lord.
John 14:15
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
So Christ has given the direct "commandment to depart to the other side". Let's see how the multitude responds to His words.
Matthew 8:19
And a certain scribe came, and said unto Him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
Hey, that sounds real good, doesn't it? This scribe has resolutely decided to closely follow Jesus Christ "whithersoever" He goes and feels compelled to tell Him so! (I wonder if this scribe knows the scriptures well enough to be aware of the upcoming trip up the hill to Golgotha?) Nevertheless, Christ knows what is in each person's heart and it is apparent by His reply to this scribe, who is no doubt overcome with emotions and the warm fuzzies from observing the miracles and healings and teachings of the Master, that he does not truly know what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Here is what Jesus said to him:

[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.
Following Christ is first a spiritual matter, a way of life, a life long commitment, call it a life's journey, not just some physical place to go and nest on Sunday mornings. In fact, it is a marriage where you and Christ spiritually abide with each other (Jn. 15:4). You see, the problem with this scribe, which is characteristic of the multitudes, is that there is no room in his heart (mind, intellect) for Jesus Christ, the Word of God, to dwell... to lay His head. For that to occur a condition (IF) must be met which Christ explains in His own words in the Book of John.
John 14:23-24
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

[24] He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

*Note: Christ used the examples of "foxes" (Ezek. 13:4) and "birds (fowl) of the air" (Mk. 4:4, 34) for a reason. They are both symbolic of religious leaders who lead our people to follow after a form of religion based on the traditions of men, i.e. churchianity, instead of teaching them His Word chapter by chapter and verse by verse that they might come to know Him and learn to walk in His ways (follow Him).

Here now is another characteristic response from among the multitudes to Jesus Christ's direct command to "depart to the other side":
Matthew 8:21
And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
The way this verse reads in English it sounds like the man's father is already dead. However, such is not the case else he would not have been there, because for one thing, back then they buried a person on the same day he or she died. So most likely this man's father was aged or ill and perhaps even in the process of dying. Nevertheless, this disciple thought that his obligations to his dying father were prohibitive to him being able to follow Christ.

Here is what the Lord said unto him. (By the way, did you notice that Christ is now being called "Lord"?)

[22] But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
Christ is speaking on a spiritual level to this man and telling him to choose life, as in follow the Word of God, even preach the kingdom of God as a disciple of His (Luke 9:60), and let the "spiritually dead" take care of their own.

You see, it is the Word of God, His spirit, that quickens (makes alive) the (spiritually) dead. In other words, it is His Word that gives life eternal to those who seek Him and believe in Him! John 6:63 "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

Let us turn to Dr. Luke's account of a similar statement Christ said to the multitudes and gain some additional wisdom concerning our priorities.

Luke 14:25
And there went great multitudes with Him: and He turned, and said unto them,

[26] If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

The word "hate" in Greek is "miseo" which does not mean to loath or despise but simply "to love less by comparison". You "see", our Father is the closest relative we have, the Father of our very souls, and it is Him we are to love with all our heart and all our soul and all our spirit, i.e. with everything we've got, every fiber of our soul. Mark 12:30 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."

In fact, a true disciple of Christ knows and understands in his or her heart that this flesh and this flesh age are but temporary and there is "nothing under the sun" that even remotely comes close to the richness found in Christ. To that end, you may recall that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac upon the altar, which command Abraham obeyed because he loved and believed God.

Luke 14:33
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
The fact remains that most Christians (i.e. the multitudes of them) who claim to believe and follow Christ do not keep His commandments? If they did, then how could it be we are a nation where the majority still profess Christianity, i.e. claim to follow Christ, yet we are a nation of Biblical illiterates? Perhaps they just missed this command: 2 Tim. 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

Well, it is now time to depart to "the other side" as Christ commanded in verse 18. Remember that He did not leave room for any doubt nor say "if we make it to the other side" or "hope we make it", etc. When Jesus Christ, the Word of God, said to depart, He meant we ARE GOING to the other side, not maybe!

The lessons we need to learn from the examples which follow are that as disciples of Christ, true follows of Him, we must believe and trust in His word and fully understand He has ALL power and authority in BOTH heaven and earth, both in the spiritual realm and the in earthly realm. All aboard!

To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.

The "American Wisdom Series"


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