Can Jesus Get A Witness?

Jesus encountered a man who was demon-possessed. The man was so dangerous that people quit trying to help him. They avoided him. But Jesus set the man free.

The man is so grateful to Jesus and so impressed with his power that he wants to go with Jesus. But at this point Jesus does something a bit surprising.

Jesus does not allow the man to come with him like his other disciples are doing. Instead, Jesus instructs the man to go home and tell how much God has done for him.

The man does what Jesus asks. He goes and tells all over town how much Jesus has done for him (Luke 8:39).

This account shows that our Lord does not always send his followers to faraway places in order to tell others about him. Jesus wants us to reach out to people across the street as well as around the world. We cannot all travel to far-away places but we can all speak to our friends and neighbors.

This episode illustrates another very important point. Jesus sends the formerly demon-possessed man out with no training. He does not teach him a gospel presentation or provide him with pamphlets. How will the man know what to say?

Jesus gives the man a very simple instruction. He directs the man to tell others how much God has done for him. In other words, just give a personal testimony.

A personal testimony about how God has worked in someone’s life is compelling. The Apostle Paul was a great teacher and preacher of the gospel, yet he often used his personal testimony as a tool for reaching out to others.

Any believer can construct a short, simple and effective personal testimony. Think about something that God has changed in your life. Practice telling others about the “before” and “after” of what God has done.

Your testimony may use this form: “I used to. . . . But now I. . . .” Perhaps you used to have no desire for church, but now you love the fellowship with other believers and the joy of worshiping and serving the Lord.

Maybe you used to be confused by the Bible but now God’s Spirit is enabling you to understand and apply Scripture in life-changing ways.

The formerly demon-possessed man sure had something remarkable to tell! Our story may not be as dramatic as his, but it is just as important. Jesus has liberated every believer from sin’s eternal punishment.

After telling about the change in your life, make a clear statement giving God the credit. All of this may take just a minute or two.

Finally, after sharing a personal testimony, extend some sort of invitation. Invite your listener to church. Or, ask if you can pray for him. Maybe you are attending a Bible study and you can invite him to join you.

In some cases, you may even sense that he is ready to be saved. If you are comfortable doing so, lead him in a sinner’s prayer. If not, urge him to meet with your pastor or Sunday school teacher or other leader in the church.

Go tell how much God has done in your life. Amazing things will happen!

Brother Richard Foster

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What To Do With All These People?

What do you see when you look at the crowds of people in the world? Jesus sees men and women who are harassed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

Too many people lack solid spiritual leadership in their lives. Like sheep among wolves they wander helplessly in a world full of danger and deception. Many fall prey to false beliefs and false hopes which lead them astray, often to disastrous results.

Jesus is moved by a deep sense of compassion when he sees the multitudes, knowing that they are in need of a shepherd. They need spiritual guidance from someone who is caring and competent.

When Jesus looks at the crowds in this world he also sees a great harvest, souls ready to be cultivated for eternal life. But he warns that workers are lacking (Matthew 9:37).

Harvest is a time filled with joy, especially in a year when fields have produced a bountiful yield. But that time of celebration can end in sadness if the fruit of the field is not harvested in a timely manner. Without workers the crops will fall to the ground and rot.

Jesus assures us that souls are ripe for a spiritual harvest. The time is now. Tomorrow may be too late. The joy of harvesting lost souls for eternal life is grand. The loss of waiting too long is tragic.

Jesus is God. He can do the impossible. He can send his angels to bring in the harvest. He is the Good Shepherd. He can find and save the lost sheep. He can guide and bless the flock.

But Jesus does something that may seem terribly risky to us. He calls on his followers to join in the task of harvesting souls, finding and caring for those who are lost. In fact, he entrusts the job to them . . . to us.

How can we possibly carry out this difficult job of harvesting precious souls? The task is ponderous. The barriers to success are overwhelming. We are unqualified and weak. Where can we find the power and wisdom necessary for such awesome work?

Jesus urges us first to pray. Pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send workers into his harvest, Jesus tells us (Matthew 9:38). Prayer is our lifeline to God’s throne of grace and mercy. Here we find the vision and the vigor to act with confidence and to succeed.

Be advised, however, that as we pray it may turn out that we are the workers we are praying for! Prayer puts us in touch with the heart of the Lord, a compassionate heart that sees the crowds and steps forward to teach, preach and heal. God calls us to share his heart and to be his hands.

Pray for the Lord to send workers into his harvest, Jesus says. Many generations of believers have answered this call and share in the joy of the harvest. Let’s be faithful in our generation and join them in the task and in the triumph.

May the God’s Spirit inspire us to share in his great harvest,

Brother Richard Foster

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The Theistic Fork in the Road

Everyone is on a journey of faith, even atheists.

We all start the faith journey by asking the fundamental question: Does God exist? How we answer this question influences our basic views about living in this world. Those who answer “No” and those who answer “Yes” have different conceptions of reality and different pathways in life. This does not mean that we cannot be kind and tolerant with one another. We can even work together on important issues. But there will be vital differences between the two groups.

Those who answer the fundamental faith question by believing that God does not exist are immediately faced with a second question: How do I live when life has no real meaning? Despite suggestions to the contrary, atheism leads to a philosophical position known as nihilism. Nihilism says that there is no real significance in life. Whatever one accomplishes will eventually be erased and forgotten. Our very universe will someday either tear itself apart from relentless expansion or crush itself in a Big Crunch. There is nobody in eternity to remember anything or anybody for good or ill – supposedly.

For those who follow nihilism to its logical conclusion the ultimate question is this: How should I commit suicide? Why? Because life in this world inevitably brings pain, sometimes intolerable pain. Since the atheist has embraced the (incorrect) notion that life is accidental and meaningless, then the most reasonable thing to do is avoid the pain and choose one’s method of death as soon as possible.

This is extreme, however, and so atheists rightly avoid such nonsense. Instead they often end up adopting some version of the position promoted by a dead philosopher named Nietzsche. This ‘enlightened’ humanistic thinker envisioned a sort of ‘superman’ who knows that life has no real meaning yet lives defiantly, pretending that life is meaningful. Is that honest? It sure doesn’t sound very ‘scientific.’

Penn Jillette, a magician, comedian, musician, (and perhaps several others –‘ian’s) is a well-known atheist. He is assertive about his atheism. He actively promotes his idea that God is myth. He works to convert us all to his way of thinking.

Surprisingly, Jillette recently decided that atheists should pray. He apparently recognizes some kind of personal therapeutic value in prayer and does not believe that atheists should be denied the benefits of prayer.

But how can you pray if there is nobody to address (unless you redefine prayer)? When people pretend to converse with someone, when there is no one, we usually take that as a sign that something is not quite right. . . .

So atheists believe life has no meaning but wish it did and they believe that God isn’t listening but wish he were (or someone?). All this time atheists have accused theists of pretense but it turns out that they are the ones who are pretending, pretending that life has purpose when they supposedly know that it doesn’t and pretending that ‘prayers’ to nobody have value.

Now for those of us who answer the first faith question with “Yes, God does exist,” we also face a second question: “Who is God? What is he like? What is he doing?” (Sounds like a lot of questions but they are related!)

As the atheist spends the rest of life trying to find meaning from meaninglessness, the theist spends life discovering the meaning and purpose that flows from the character and attributes of God. When we learn about God’s character we also learn about his mission and purpose. When we understand God’s mission and purpose we are challenged to join him.

Penn Jillette is right about this: prayer is beneficial. But the benefit of prayer is not some kind of personal therapy. The benefit of prayer is that it provides us with a personal connection to the invisible Living God who made us and who gives us purpose in this life and hope for the life to come.

The Bible is our primary document for answering questions about God. It is God’s word to us about who he is and what he is doing. The Bible helps us discover how we fit into God’s kingdom plan and experience meaning and purpose in life now.

God’s purpose for each of us cannot be taken away even in the midst of suffering and pain, issues that atheists regularly use to justify unbelief. But we need not despair even in the most painful of circumstances because God insures that our struggles are purposeful.

Theistic faith provides an answer for the question of why we instinctively believe that life should have meaning and purpose. God made us with an innate sense that our lives matter – because they do. We need not pretend that life matters, as atheists are forced to do. Believing faith enables us to live with confidence.

So each of us must choose to have faith in an accidental universe which can provide no meaning now and no hope for the future, or faith in a loving God who created us and promises us hope for eternity. I choose God.

Brother Richard Foster

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God’s One Mistake

Many American Christians have discovered God’s one mistake. It has to do with the Lord’s Day. God was apparently not thinking ahead when he instructed his people to gather for worship one day out of seven.

How could the Lord, who knows the beginning from the end, miss the long list of difficulties he created? Did he not realize that people have birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays, out-of-town visitors, family time (to name just a few)? 52 Sundays out of every 365 days is a lot to ask.

After seeing how his people Israel struggled to keep the Sabbath in the Old Testament one might expect the Lord to learn his lesson and change his mind in the New Testament. But no. Jesus himself had the notable habit of attending Synagogue regularly (and with people who were trying to kill him!). And the Early Church met more than once a week. What were they thinking?

What does God have to say for himself? Well, the New Testament likens the church to a body. In the same way that a person’s body has hands, feet, eyes, ears, etc., the church is a collection of people with diverse spiritual gifts, each one needed by all the others. When someone is absent the body is incomplete and the other parts suffer. Imagine your hands and feet showing up on different days.

We also read that the church is like a temple. Each person is a living stone in the walls of this spiritual place where God meets with his people. When bricks are missing the building is incomplete and weakened, vulnerable to the hostile forces that come against it.

But wait. Must God justify his commands to us? Do we worship on the Lord’s Day because we have approved it as useful and acceptable to ourselves? Do we have the final word on what is right? “Okay, Lord, I’ll obey if you can convince me that I should . . . if not, then I am taking control!” If this is true, then we should dispense with calling him Lord.

Our cultural ancestors in Europe discovered God’s mistake about once-a-week worship before we did in the U.S.A. They have ‘evolved’ morally and spiritually more rapidly than we have (or is it de-volved?). We are apparently now in a competition to take the lead in this race for the cultural bottom, and doing rather well as of late.

But someone will rebuke me: How can a lack of worship on the Lord’s Day be blamed for the spiritual and moral demise of an entire culture? The point is taken. Perhaps a haphazard attitude about the Lord’s Day is a symptom and not the disease. But if so, should we not make an appointment with the Great Physician? Should we not labor to restore this sign of spiritual vitality: regular worship?

What message is sent to the world when God’s people openly defy him? Why should they consider honoring God when his own people fail to observe one of the most visible expressions of faith? Maybe there is a connection between the church’s observance of the Lord’s Day and the rise or decline of a culture.

At the bottom of it all we must answer this question: Did God make a mistake when he instructed his people to worship one day out of seven, or are we making a mistake when we ignore him?

May the Spirit of God always inspire us to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord,

Brother Richard Foster

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The Powerful Word of God

This year is the 500th anniversary of a decisive turning point in the history of the church. In 1517 the Roman Catholic Church had dominated in the West for generations. But during that long period of political power the organization descended into corruption.

The corrupt church had to keep its members in the dark in order to protect itself from accountability. Its teachings and practices had departed dramatically from God’s word. But a man named Martin Luther was brave enough to risk taking a stand for the truth.

Luther’s personal spiritual pilgrimage led him back to the Bible. He realized how far Roman Catholicism had strayed from God’s word. Luther challenged the leaders of the church to reform their practices and align their teaching with Scripture.

The hearts of the church leaders were darkened by the wealth and influence they gained from oppressing God’s people. They refused to amend their ways. Instead, they tried to destroy the messenger.

But the Roman Catholic establishment underestimated the power of God’s word. Martin Luther and others like him began to expose the lies of the Roman Catholic institution. The truth revealed in the pages of Scripture uncovered the deceit of sixteenth-century Catholicism.

Other brave and talented people translated the Bible into the languages of the people so they could know the truth. Roman Catholic leaders tried to keep the Bible out of the people’s hands, capturing and killing those who translated and published the Bible for common folks to read.

The results of all this were catastrophic for the Roman Catholic institution’s grip on power. Their refusal to make needed corrections forced genuine believers to break with Roman Catholicism and form new local churches built on the truth of God’s word. What started as reform became a revolt against entrenched falsehood and the birth of a new movement, Protestant churches.

The history of the Reformation is a reminder that God’s word is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. Church leaders may go astray but God’s written word will always restore God’s people to the narrow path which leads to life.

By trying to cover up and subvert the truth of God’s written word, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church caused a painful and radical correction to the Christian movement. Had they allowed God’s word to make many small adjustments along the way they would have avoided the need for such revolutionary change.

The same dynamics are at work in today’s church. When we allow God’s word to make frequent course corrections to our churches and to our individual lives, we will avoid the need for radical changes that can be difficult and painful.

In this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, let’s renew our commitment to the Bible. Let us be faithful to read, learn, memorize, apply and share God’s word. For “all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God might be capable, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

May God’s Word always be a lamp for our feet and a light for our path,
Brother Richard Foster

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Christmas Is About A House Call

There was a time when doctors actually visited sick people in their homes. It was known as a house call. Nobody makes house calls anymore. Well, there is a guy named Jason in Grand Junction, Colorado.1 He still makes house calls. But Jason is not a doctor. He is a barber. So if you get sick, there may not be a doctor who will come and heal you, but thanks to Jason at least you can look tidy. . . .

Jesus made house calls.

After one of his house calls in Capernaum, Jesus goes out and sees a man sitting at a tax booth.2 The man’s name is Matthew. Jesus says to him, “Follow me!” Matthew gets up and follows Jesus. By answering Jesus’ invitation Matthew becomes Jesus’ disciple, a learner with Jesus as his teacher, his master.

Then Matthew hosts a banquet and invites Jesus to his house. He wants his friends and associates to meet his new teacher. And many tax collectors and sinners come and share the table with Jesus and his other disciples.

The fact that Jesus goes to Matthew’s house and shares a table with him and his friends is significant. Sharing a table is an act of friendship, an expression of fellowship. Jesus seems to be making a statement through his personal contact with Matthew’s peer group.

Jesus’ attendance at Matthew’s banquet gets the attention of a powerful group: the Pharisees. These men are part of the religious establishment. Tension is building between them and Jesus. They do not see eye to eye with the former carpenter-turned-preacher who makes house calls.

The Pharisees emphasize ritual purity in their religious practice. If you touch the wrong thing, you are rendered ritually impure in the sight of God. And if you touch a person who has touched the wrong thing, you are impure in God’s eyes.

Their ideas about ritual purity are so strict that almost no one can follow the extensive rules and regulations that make up the heart of their religion. So they tend to be separated from the common folks.

These Pharisees are apparently keeping a pretty close eye on Jesus. They are suspicious of him. When they see Jesus at Matthew’s banquet they start asking Jesus’ disciples, “Why is your teacher eating with tax collectors and sinners?”

They are questioning Jesus’ association with these common people. Matthew’s friends are the types of people who do not keep themselves ritually pure according to the long list of rules kept by the Pharisees.

So these Pharisees are accusing Jesus of fraternizing with the enemy, so to speak. Since he claims to be a teacher of what is godly and righteous, they reason, then Jesus should be acting like they do. And they would never have close social contact with these tax collectors and sinners.

This phrase, “tax collectors and sinners,” is a standard way of referring to the very people that the Pharisees carefully avoid. Notice that tax collectors are singled out in this formula. It’s not the sheep herders and sinners, or the soldiers and sinners, but the tax collectors and sinners.

Tax collectors are one group that most everyone can agree to despise, just like people today seldom have warm feelings toward IRS agents. Jewish tax collectors like Matthew not only take away people’s hard-earned money, but they give that money to the hated Roman occupiers. So they are doubly despised.

Why doesn’t Jesus go to Jerusalem and choose his followers from established and recognized leaders, men with a track record for being gifted and influential? Why go to one of the most hated groups in society and choose a follower? Why invite such a despised man?

Jesus does not come to win everyone’s approval. On one occasion he saw that a crowd had gathered around him and so he departed.3 People who want popularity run toward the crowds. Jesus goes the other way.

On at least two occasions men came and promised to follow Jesus, but he questioned their commitment.4 If you want to be popular, then you make compromises in order to gain followers and supporters. Jesus, however, trims the ranks by maintaining unusually high standards.

Today’s church can learn a lot from Jesus. His work was not to win approval, but to win souls. We can gain people’s approval and still not win souls for the Lord. And often winning souls can actually lead to society’s disapproval. After all, saving souls requires one to believe that they are lost in the first place, which can be insulting.

Jesus hears the Pharisees accusing him to his disciples and answers for himself. But why don’t the disciples answer? Why don’t they defend their leader? Are they secretly wondering about Jesus? Are they uncomfortable coming to a banquet with all these tax collectors and sinners? (Matthew and his friends may have collected taxes from some of these fishermen who are now following Jesus, maybe even cheated them!) After hearing the Pharisees’ accusation against Jesus, maybe they are thinking to themselves: “I was wondering that very same thing! Why are we eating with these people?”

Jesus gives a great answer. He says, “The healthy have no need for a doctor, but those who are sick do.” What good is a savior if he doesn’t go where people need to be saved?

Notice that Jesus characterizes sin as sickness. He pictures these tax collectors and sinners as people who have an illness which needs to be cured. People who sin have sick souls. To disobey God’s commands is to be spiritually ill. Jesus is the soul doctor, the Great Physician, who can heal the sick, both physically and spiritually.

So the religious leaders accuse Jesus of sending the wrong message by socializing with these sinners. Not only is he risking ritual impurity, he is affirming the sinful lifestyles of Matthew and his friends. As far as they are concerned, a real teacher of God’s truth would not enable sinners.

Note carefully that Jesus does not defend these tax collectors and sinners. He does not insist that they are perfectly fine just the way they are. Instead Jesus says that he has come to change them. And how can a doctor heal without going where the sick are? How can a savior rescue without going where the lost are? Is Jesus approving sinful lifestyles? No. Jesus is not becoming a sinner. Matthew is becoming a disciple.

Jesus is not finished. Next he tells the Pharisees, “Now go and learn what this means, ‘Mercy is what I desire and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Jesus is sending the teachers back to school! He quotes from the Bible and tells these Pharisees to go and study it. Remember, these men are the religious leaders of Israel. They are the ones who teach God’s word to the people. And Jesus tells them that they flunked their course in God’s mercy.

The Scripture which Jesus sends these Pharisees to re-learn is Hosea 6:6.5 Hosea was a prophet sent by God to Israel at a time when the people were at a low point spiritually. They brought their offerings to the temple from time to time but they did not live their daily lives according to God’s ways.

The sacrifices God prescribes in the Old Testament were not meant to be indulgences, that is, go to church once a week and give to God and then do whatever you please the rest of the week. More than endless sacrifices for constant disobedience, God desires a people who have a heart of mercy.

Of all people, the religious leaders should know that God desires mercy, grace, forgiveness and restoration. But these men are cold-hearted toward the tax collectors and sinners. Their religion is a dead letter, not a living word.

So Jesus is not defending the tax collectors and sinners. He says that he came to call them, to invite them to a new life, a life of repentance and salvation, discipleship, victory over sin. Jesus is reaching out to the sinners so that they can share his power and holiness.

Jesus says that he did not come to call the righteous. But nobody is righteous. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

If these Pharisees were not so blinded by their own self-righteous attitudes then they would be able to marvel at the mercy of God which is capable of saving even the tax collectors and sinners. More than that, as the religious leaders of Israel, they should model the mercy of God. They should be out making house calls with Jesus.

Here is a message so important for the American church today. We find ourselves in a world that is moving away from the morals and ethics of God’s perfect word. Many believers struggle, not wanting to compromise God’s truth or to approve of sinful lifestyles, but also yearning to show the love of God. What are Bible-believing parents to do when invited to a wedding between their son and another man? What should Christians do when a friend is celebrating the birth of her baby born out of wedlock?

There are two very simple responses to these types of dilemmas. On one side, Christians could choose to disown those who do not live up to God’s moral standards. Simple. But those choosing this option become more like the Pharisees than Jesus.

On the other side, Christians could choose to redefine God’s righteousness, becoming so concerned with winning people’s approval that they adopt the world’s standards, being so concerned with winning a person’s friendship that they refuse to challenge or correct them, even in love. But then they have stopped following Jesus, because Jesus offers healing to sin-sick souls, not excuses.

There is a third option. We can refuse to give up on holiness and refuse to give up on the sinner, both at the same time. But will we be seen as approving sin if we socialize with the sinner? How can we balance holiness and mercy? This approach is so difficult, so thorny, so filled with complexities that it seems impossible to get it right. And it is. But the good news is that we serve God who does the impossible.

I’ve seen how this can be done. As a young man I was entangled in drugs, alcohol and other poor lifestyle choices. Through all those years of foolishness I always knew two things about my dad. First, I knew that he disagreed with my sin. Second, I knew that he loved me and his door was always open for me. My dad modeled Jesus. God enables us to be like Jesus, holy and merciful.

What has this to do with Christmas? Everything! We often hear that Christmas is about some fuzzy feel-good notion about giving. God gave his Son so we should give to one another. That’s true in a general sense but it is not enough.

Vague notions about giving leave out the fact that Christmas is about a people in desperate need, sinners in need of a Great Physician. Christmas is about Christ stepping down and leaving behind the privileges and safety of heaven in order to rescue souls bound for hell.

It’s no surprise that this technology-driven generation has turned to videoconferencing for a solution to the house call question. Imagine a service that offers you a virtual house call on your iPad, iPhone or computer.6 A doctor speaks to you on your device, trying to diagnose your illness and prescribe an appropriate therapy. But those who have tried this discovered that it is not nearly as effective as having a live doctor in the same room with you. There is no replacement for personal contact.

God still desires and provides for personal spiritual contact that brings healing, restoration and great joy. Christmas is about the greatest house call ever made. Jesus came so that we can be saved from our sin.

Merry Christmas,
Brother Richard


1 Karaline Ann, “Barber offers house call haircut to disabled friend,” WEAU 13 News [on-line]; accessed 2 December 2016; available from http://www.weau.com/content/news?article=400278221; Internet.

2 This article is based on Matthew 9:9-13.

3 See Matthew 8:18.

4 See Matthew 8:19-22.

5 The entire verse is as follows: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (NIV).

6 “Virtual doctor visits: A new kind of house call,” Harvard Health Publications [on-line]; accessed 2 December 2016; available from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/virtual-doctor-visits-a-new-kind-of-house-call; Internet.

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Defective Discipleship

Jesus was about to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. But two men delayed his departure. Each one came and offered to follow Jesus (See Matthew 8:18-22.).

The first man was a scribe, a group usually hostile to Jesus. He referred to Jesus as “Teacher,” and promised to follow him anywhere. Impressive! Surely Jesus will encourage a man who is taking such a big step of faith, right?

Surprisingly, Jesus questions this man’s devotion. He warns the scribe to count the cost. As a preacher on the move, Jesus has no place to lay his head. Is this man really willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to be Jesus’ disciple?

This scribe is a teacher of the law, a religious leader, a man invested in the established way of thinking about God. But Jesus challenges many of the ideas of the religious leaders. He knows that this scribe’s religion is actually a barrier to discipleship.

Do we have established ideas about religion and discipleship that are out of step with Jesus?

Next, a man addresses Jesus as “Lord” and asks if he can go and bury his father before following Jesus. Now this man seems to have a better understanding of Jesus’ real identity, calling him “Lord” instead of “Teacher.” And he seems to be taking the commitment seriously, recognizing that discipleship may mean separation from his family, at least for a time.

Sounds as if the second man is making a perfectly reasonable offer. Surely Jesus will encourage him!

Jesus tells this man to come and follow now and let the dead bury their own dead. Wow! Isn’t that harsh? Does Jesus not care about the man’s family? It’s not that Jesus lacks compassion for the man’s family. But nothing is more important than God’s call.

The second man is using his family obligation as an excuse to delay following Jesus. By using his family as an excuse not to follow Jesus now, the man is making his family an idol.

Do we use good things in our lives, like family, as excuses to avoid following Jesus passionately?

So Jesus sees something lacking in both of these men. The scribe is a religious man but ironically his religion may be keeping him from understanding that Jesus deserves complete devotion. The second man loves his family, but he is trying to use something good (family) to avoid doing what is best (discipleship).

Jesus finally gets into the boat and crosses the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-34). His disciples follow. Little do they know what awaits them! On the water they witness Jesus rebuking a terrifying storm and bringing a great calm. As a result, they ask themselves what sort of man this is, that even the winds and the sea obey him.

Once on the eastern shore, they encounter a couple of frightening demon-possessed men, so dangerous that nobody risked passing by that way. Jesus, however, boldly commands the demons to leave. They do, in a rather dramatic fashion that strikes fear in the hearts of the local folks, prompting them to beg Jesus to leave their region.

And Jesus moves on. But those two men who stay behind miss the greatest opportunity of their lives. They remain on the shore where it is ‘safe.’ The ones who are willing to follow Jesus out onto the waters have some unsettling moments. But they also see the power of God firsthand.

May the Lord give us hearts that will follow Jesus without hesitation,

Brother Richard

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