Matthew 8:14-27 (ESV)
14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” 18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 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.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” 23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
Jesus’ healing of Peter’s wife’s mother is the third of ten miracles Matthew records in chapters 8 and 9. When the fever left her, she was immediately restored and even able to get up and serve Jesus. News traveled fast, and soon many people were brought to Jesus. He healed and delivered them too, just as Isaiah foretold seven hundred years earlier. Because of all the miracles that took place, a crowd began to form around Jesus. He knew many came to him for the wrong reasons. They wanted what Jesus had to offer, but they didn’t want Jesus himself. And so that none were confused, Jesus explained to the crowd what it really meant to be his disciple. In verses 19 and 20, a scribe, or a teacher of God’s law, says he wants to follow Jesus. But Jesus, knowing the scribe’s heart, revealed to him that if he were to come with the group, it would mean less than a “middle-class” existence for him. Jesus didn’t own a home, and those who came after him left the comforts of this life as well. In verses 21 and 22, a second man asks to bury his father before coming after Jesus. This shouldn’t have been unreasonable, right? He wanted to take care of his father, and then after his father died, he would follow.
Jesus responds with a seemingly strange statement: “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (v. 22). What does that mean? Jesus used this conversation to teach that discipleship isn’t something we can turn on and off. This man probably wanted to make sure he received his proper inheritance when his father passed away. After that, he said he would be ready to go. When Jesus said, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead,” he meant that anyone could manage funeral arrangements. Following Jesus means we will probably risk at least some of our comforts on earth as God must always be the top priority in our lives, even when there’s a cost involved. What are some of the securities and conveniences of life you are afraid to give up to fully follow Jesus? Ask God to show you whether you are wholeheartedly living for him. If the answer is “no,” be willing to do whatever it takes to sincerely embrace what it means to be a disciple of Christ. In the end, nothing this world has to offer is better than loving, living for, and serving Jesus.