Matthew: The Cost Of Genuine Allegiance To Jesus

Memory Verse: Matthew 8:22

8:18-20 Genuine Allegiance Comes With A Price

  • 8:18a At this point in Jesus’ narrative He is gaining popularity because of his authoritative teaching style and content as well as the amazing miracles that He is performing among the people. Great multitudes started following Him. People were interested in this man who claimed to be the Son of God. But were these people sincere in their willingness to follow Jesus? Or were they just wanting to come to Jesus to see what He could do for them? Were they interested in the physical healing Jesus had to offer but not willing to pledge their allegiance to Jesus as the Lord of their life?
  • 8:18b When Jesus saw the multitude was about Him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side of the sea. We aren’t told why Jesus wanted depart from the multitude, but it seems that one of the reason could be that He was testing them to see who would follow Him, even if it cost them to do so. If the journey across the sea was too inconvenient for people to dissuade them from following this Prophet who is teaching and doing things that they never seen before, then their faith probably wasn’t genuine.
  • 8:19a This is exactly what happens. As they make preparations to depart, a certain scribe came unto Jesus and said, “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” Jesus apparent test has called out a man who is pledging his allegiance to Jesus. He refers to Jesus as “Master” or “Teacher” which indicates he was familiar with His teaching or position. Jesus is about to embark on a journey and so this man wants to follow—to go with Him. But his commitment is much deeper than this single journey, he adds “whithersoever thou goest”. He is pledging to be a full-time committed follower of Jesus. But was this artificial or genuine allegiance? Was this decision really thought through or was it just an impulsive decision? Was he just looking for a new job?
  • 8:19b What did this pledge of allegiance mean for a scribe? A scribe was a Jew who could read and write and acted as a secretary. Moreover they were often involved in teaching, making copies, and interpreting the Old Testament. Thus, the scribes often became authorities concerning the law. When Jesus came, He challenged their authority and interpretations of the law—showing the hypocrisy of many. So for this man to pledge his allegiance to Jesus, the one who often challenged the scribes, would be seen as joining forces with the enemy. His peers would most likely disapprove of him. Genuine allegiance to Jesus comes with a price.
  • 8:20 The cost of this allegiance is what Jesus points to in His response to the man. Jesus says to 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.” Jesus answer could point to the physical journey they are about to make across the sea, telling the man that the journey doesn’t have anywhere to stay for the night once they arrive but it points to so much more. Jesus used the example that foxes and birds both have places that they call home, but the Son of man, Jesus, doesn’t have such a place while He is on earth. This means several things for the scribe or anyone else who is willing to follow Jesus: (1) No home—our home is the place we feel comfortable, where we store our possessions, and where we sleep at night. Jesus is saying that true allegiance to Him means being willing to give up those things in order to be free from earthly ties. How many people don’t serve Jesus because of they’re earthly desires? (2) No security—a home also gives a sense of security. But Jesus is saying that you are to trade in that security for faith. How many people choose to not follow Jesus because they rather live “secure” lives instead of “faithful” lives? The Bible doesn’t record the man’s response. What is your response?

8:21-22 Genuine Allegiance Means Following Jesus Today

  • 8:21 Then another disciple of Jesus said unto Jesus, “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.” This man had apparently already made a decision to follow Jesus to some degree. But when he decided to follow Jesus there was a loyalty conflict in his life. This man still felt an obligation to take care of his parents. His allegiance to his family came in conflict with his allegiance to Jesus. The phrase “bury my father” doesn’t necessarily mean that his father was already dead and he needed to quickly bury him (otherwise why is he talking with Jesus and not already at home taking care of the funeral), but it has the deeper meaning of going and taking care of his parents until they pass away and he receives his inheritance—then he would be willing to serve Jesus. The idea behind his words is that he will serve Jesus: (1) after his father has died—possibly sometime in the distant future when his family obligation is fulfilled; (2) after he receives his inheritance—when he is more financially stable. There was going to be a delay between his willingness to serving Jesus and actually serving Jesus. Maybe he felt this obligation or maybe his parents were putting pressure on him to do so.

 

  • 8:22 How does Jesus respond to such a request? (1) First he says, “Follow me”—meaning that His disciple it to continue following Him. He was not to leave Jesus until it was more convenient for him to serve Jesus, but was to keep on the path he already started. Jesus was teaching him and all future disciples that allegiance to Jesus is more important than allegiance to their earthly families. (2) Second, He says, “Let the dead bury their dead”—this is a strange saying unless we understand it as the “spiritual dead” (unbelievers) can take care of the things of this world (maintaining life until burying the dead), but the “spiritually alive” (believers) are to be busy with the heavenly and spiritual matters. To be a disciple meant to take immediate action and the allegiance to Jesus was the absolute priority in your life.
  • Salvation: Jesus is looking for genuine disciples. He is looking for real believers—those who truly believe in their inner-most-being that He is the Son of God who holds the key to eternal life. Those who through repentance and faith have decided to follow Him no matter the cost. A person who realizes the Jesus is the number one priority in their life. Jesus comes first. Are your truly following Jesus? Or are you saying you will become a believer later in life when it is more convenient?
  • Service: Are you following Jesus plan for your life? Maybe like the twelve disciples you have been chosen out to serve God full-time—to be a preacher of the gospel. If you are a man with this call on your life, are you being obedient? Discipleship means being obedient to Jesus in all areas of your life. It means at salvation you said, “Yes” to Jesus’ will for your life and you are willing to try and live that out. What excuse are you using to avoid His will for your life?—Jesus looks to you and says, “Follow Me”.

Review Questions

  • What does the first man say to Jesus?
  • What is Jesus response to the first man? What does it mean?
  • What does the second man say to Jesus?
  • What is Jesus response to the second man? What does it mean?
  • What is the cost of genuine allegiance to Jesus?

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