Today’s reading link: Genesis 8; Matthew 8; Ezra 8; Acts 8
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) closes with two of my favorite verses:
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:5-7)
Have you ever been astonished at someone’s teaching? I am picturing jaws dropping, minds blown, tears of joy as well as tears of remorse due to hearts being convicted from this sermon. They recognized Jesus’ authority and they were astonished because there had never been anyone like him. Still today there is no one like him, and there will never be anyone like him!
In Matthew Chapter 8, Jesus puts his authority into action and performs various miracles where he demonstrates his authority over:
- Disease (v. 3, 13, 15-16) – healed leprosy and other diseases
- Winds and sea (v. 26) – calms the storm
- Demons (v. 16, 32) – cast out demons
Matthew tells the story of the centurion who demonstrated great faith. Centurions were captains in the Roman army and had authority over many soldiers. We can learn from the centurion as a model for our own faith and prayer life (humble ourselves, honor Him, believe). This high-powered centurion humbles himself and defines the relationship with Jesus addressing him as “Lord” and further states “I am not worthy” – and he trusts and believes that Jesus can heal from afar. Then the best part: kudos from Jesus. Jesus recognizes the centurion’s approach as an act of great faith and is “marveled” by it.
I’d love to marvel Jesus today, how about you? How about right now? Today’s reading has a couple examples of urgency.
The first example is directly from Jesus and he makes it clear that following him must be on his terms, without delay:
Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:21-22)
The level of urgency in our response to the good news should match how good the news is. Our outward response indicates our true inward feeling. We’re talking about some seriously good news here – eternal life. The eunuch in Acts 8:34-39 gets it right when his immediate response to hearing the Good News is to become baptized in some water along the road and went on his way rejoicing!
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18)
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring so the time to respond is now. Jesus has all authority. Authority over our past and future, our illnesses, ups, downs, jobs, relationships, needs, addictions, failures, fears, families, and most importantly, our eternity. He’s proven it and has promised it for you and for me. We just need to trust and follow him.
Lord, I am not worthy. Forgive me for not marveling enough at your greatness and your authority. Forgive my lack of urgency in following you wholeheartedly. Thank you for this new day and the opportunity to follow you. Amen.