So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple- Luke 14:33 NKJV

There are two kinds of Christians. 

There are Christians who mark up their Bibles and Christians who don’t. I am unashamedly the first kind of Christian. I can tell at a glance how impactful a chapter of the Bible has been to me by the sheer number of highlights, underlines and notes written in the margins.

I am currently working my way through the book of Matthew. The Bible I’m using is new enough that it’s more-or-less a blank slate at this point.  As I finished up chapter eight, I noticed an astonishing scarceness of notes, underlining and highlighting compared to the previous seven chapters. 

It was a little drab and dull in comparison.  

 I decided to go back and take a second look. Matthew eight tells the seemingly random stories of people or groups of people who all had encounters with Jesus. The first encounter is with a leper who is healed by Jesus. That encounter is followed by a story about a Roman centurion whose servant is healed by Jesus long distance (verses 9-13). Next up is the healing of Peter’s Mother-in-law (verses 14-15). 

 There is a departure from the healings theme towards the end of the chapter. Verses eighteen through twenty-two detail interactions Jesus has with a nameless teacher of the law and an anonymous disciple. The teacher promises he will follow Jesus wherever He goes. Instead he makes a bunch of lame excuses and goes his own way.  The unknown disciple also reneges on his initial pledge to follow Jesus (Matthew 13:18-22).

Immediately following those encounters the disciples find themselves in a nasty storm. The fierceness of the storm shakes their faith in a big way.  Jesus finds the disciples and their lack of faith in Him super annoying (verses 23-27). 

The chapter ends with Jesus healing two demon possessed gentiles. The demons come out of the men and after a brief conversation with Jesus, the demons agree to go into a herd of pigs. The demon possessed pigs immediately jump off of a cliff and die. The loss of the pigs ends up costing the locals a LOT of money. They frantically beg Jesus to leave their region because He wasn’t good for their bottom line. 

The end. 

Even after the second reading it still felt like a bunch of random stories. I wasn’t really feeling it.

 Then it hit me pretty much out of nowhere that all the stories had a common theme: Response. 

The chapter records how different people respond to Jesus. The leper went to Jesus in faith and responded in obedience. The centurion responded to Jesus with such faith and humility, Jesus praised him for it in a way that surely angered the Jews who were present (verses 10-12). Peter’s Mother-in-law responded to Jesus with a life of service. The teacher of the law and the nameless disciple are both interesting. Both apparently understood who Jesus was but once they realized following Jesus might mean discomfort and/or a loss of status they decided to go their own way (verses18-22). The disciples are just sad at this point in the narrative. Even after watching Jesus heal scores of people (including some of their own relatives) they still struggled to respond with trust in Jesus when it came to the tough stuff of life (verse 23-27). 


Then there’s the townspeople. These folks are the genuine sad-sacks of the chapter. They saw Jesus’ power and were so afraid of what following Jesus might ultimately cost them, they ended up begging Jesus to leave them alone. 

It occurred to me we all fall somewhere on the chapter eight spectrum. We might even find ourselves in different places in chapter eight at different points in our life. 

Perhaps you’re one of those individuals who started the journey full of child-like faith. You responded to Jesus with a heart of obedience and you’re still keeping on. My prayer is that you have a heart like Peter’s Mother-in-law and you’ve invested your days in serving Jesus with everything you have (Matthew 25:21). 

I hope this is you.

But maybe:

After a long season of hard knocks, you may be questioning whether or not Jesus is worth the trouble.  Perhaps, the storms of life feel unrelenting. Your faith in Jesus and His ability to care for you is being challenged at every turn.  Maybe life feels uncertain and your just kind of terrified. 

Or maybe, you’re like those gentile townspeople. You know Jesus is real, but you’re afraid of what following Jesus is going to cost you. You’re just not sure a life of faith is worth giving up that habit, relationship or sin. Maybe you’re determined to do your own thing you’re willing to risk hell simply to have your own way. 

Wherever you are on the Matthew eight spectrum:

 I know Jesus is worth it (Psalm 34:8, Psalm 84:11). I know He’s faithful, even in the midst of the toughest most brutal stuff of life (Psalm 27:13).  I have also learned that even in the worst moments He is busy working out all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29). 

Trust Him today (2nd Corinthians 13:14, 1st John 3:16). He’s got you.