+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)
O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading – Matthew 8:18-34 (NLT)
The Cost of Following Jesus
When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake.
Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead.”
Jesus Calms the Storm
Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”
Jesus Heals Two Demon-Possessed Men
When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They came out of the tombs and were so violent that no one could go through that area.
They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?”
There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”
“All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone.
Our fears test our faith.
“Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”
– Matthew 8:26 –
In today’s reading, Jesus is surrounded by crowds of people who are drawn to him by him by his preaching, teaching and healing. And several of them are inclined to follow him – but first, they must face their fears. And so it is today; following Jesus in principle is one thing . But following Jesus in practice is another matter altogether- that’s when our fears challenge our faith.Here are some of the fears Jesus addressed in this reading?
+ Fear of homelessness (vs19) – the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head. Following Jesus a challenge for those who plan ahead when they travel. They want to know where they will sleep on any given night. But Jesus says trust me, don’t expect a grand hotel, but we’ll find something.
+ Fear of criticism (vs 22) -Jesus told him, Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead. Families exert powerful influence on our lives, for better or worse. In this case, a man simply wanted to pay respect to his father, and not doing so opened him to criticism and perhaps even estrangement from his family. But Jesus says, following me is more important than meeting family obligations.
+ Fear of death (vs26) – Jesus responded, Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!Concern Fear for our physical safety is built into our human nature – and these seasoned fishermen were genuinely afraid of drowning. But more, they were afraid that Jesus didn’t care. But Jesus amazes them by calming the storm and their fear of death at the same time. Jesus says: “are you afraid of drowning?” – Don’t worry, I’m in control.
+ Fear of discovery (vs29) – Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? – What drives people to do wrong? The traditional answer is – the world, the flesh, and the devil. And in this case, it’s the devil. But regardless of the source, fear of discovery of their temptations translates into fear of Jesus – fear that the the temptation driving their lives will be exposed.
+ Fear of financial loss (vs34) -Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone. Jesus disrupted the status quo and the business and economic interests of the town. The loss of the pigs was a huge financial loss for everyone involved.
Questions for consideration:
- Do you have a regular place to sleep at night? What comforts would you be willing to give up to follow Jesus? Please explain.
- How does your family influence your faith? Have your family obligations ever prevented you from following Jesus? Please explain.
- Do you have concerns about your health or physical safety? How do they affect your ability to follow Jesus? Please explain.
- Can you identify some of the temptations that are driving the society in which you live? In your opinion, which of these are demonic? Which of these affect you? Please explain.
- What would it cost you, or your empolyer to follow Jesus? Would it cause you economic hardship? Please explain.
Morning Prayer: Prayer –
For Trustfulness in Times of Worry and anxiety
Most loving Father, you will us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on the One who cares for us. Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested unto us in your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Not Afraid” – Jesus Culture
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen