Formations lesson for Oct. 27: Commitment to Jesus
October 11 2002 by T. Wayne Proctor , Matthew 8:18-22

Formations lesson for Oct. 27: Commitment to Jesus | Friday, Oct. 11, 2002

Friday, Oct. 11, 2002

Formations lesson for Oct. 27: Commitment to Jesus

By T. Wayne Proctor Matthew 8:18-22

What are the demands of following Jesus? What do we promise, and what are we promised? Do we promise conditional or unconditional commitment, or are we promised prosperity or poverty?

Just as we struggle with our promises and responses today, so did those who watched and listened to Jesus long ago. At the time Jesus spoke the words found in this passage, He was riding the strong tide of popularity. Many were watching Him, and with good reason. Look at what had just occurred. Healings had occurred to a leper, a Roman centurion's servant, Peter's mother-in-law, and many who were demon possessed and sick (vs. 1-17). At this time of popularity, most of the crowd were common, ordinary folk, but one of the religious elite proposed to follow Jesus.

Teacher to teacher

The proposal to "follow Jesus wherever He went" came from a scribe, a lawyer, a teacher. We must understand this to be a sincere desire, perhaps even well thought out.

As a group of people, scribes and Pharisees were not particularly kind to Jesus. They identified Jesus as a threat to their own authority, and were generally found to be plotting against Him.

Nicodemus was an exception, and this man, too, was willing to risk losing his status among his peers.

Jesus' answer could be considered unusual, had it come from anyone else. It wasn't a "yes," and it wasn't a "no." It was a way for the scribe to further contemplate his decision.

Jesus was stating that He could not promise any of the things people usually search for in life. He could not promise wealth, physical comfort or popularity. Instead, it could be said that Jesus was implying that there would be a cost to following Him.

Discipleship might lead to much loneliness and sacrifice. We do not know what decision the scribe made that day. Perhaps he needed time to weigh out his response to Jesus' words.

Son to family

The second man, identified as a disciple or follower, was apparently responding to Jesus' call. His words, "first let me go and bury my father," probably sound strange to us.

We ask: "Had his father died?"

If so, it would have been his responsibility to bury his father on that day. However, if his father were still alive, the response would have been one of "not now, maybe later." The father's death might be years away, and by then he might have forgotten about following Jesus.

Immediacy of discipleship

Just as Jesus called Andrew and Peter, James and John to leave their nets, and Matthew to leave his tax-collecting booth, He called this would-be disciple to follow Him, and let others handle the family responsibility to their father.

The time for decision was now! In our churches we approach our evangelistic witness from two perspectives. One perspective is: "today is the day of salvation." If the Holy Spirit is calling you to trust and follow Christ, don't delay. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone.

The second perspective seems almost a contradiction. It says: "be sure!" Count the cost. Weigh the decision you're making. Wait until you know the basics of salvation and church membership before you go through the baptismal waters.

In reality, both perspectives are right. There is an immediacy to discipleship, but there is also a thoughtfulness to discipleship.

In our postmodern world, there is an ever-increasing need for churches to inform and disciple new believers and new church members. Furthermore, as our culture becomes less Christian, this need for training in Christian basics becomes more important. We can no longer assume that these children, teens and adults understand their decision to become a Christian.

Let's not just give them a tract or book to read, but let's take time with them to make sure they are with strong Christians who can provide the example and teaching they need to grow spiritually.

A number of years ago a wise pastor told me that Baptists are guilty of "dipping and dropping them."

Obviously, the one responding to Christ must count the cost. There is personal responsibility. Just as obviously, the church has its responsibility. This corporate responsibility is our response to the seriousness of Christ's command.

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10/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by T. Wayne Proctor , Matthew 8:18-22 | with 0 comments
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