In chapter 8, Matthew shares six stories in which the supernatural power of Jesus is highlighted and the cost of following Jesus is given. The first three stories are healing stories which show the fulfillment of Isaiah 53, "He took our illness and bore our diseases." The first two stories focus on the faith of the person being healed. A leper is healed after affirming that he trusts the power of Jesus to heal him. The centurion displays faith which surprised Jesus when he expressed trust that Jesus could heal with a mere word spoken at a distance.
The next three stories show that a life of faith is not always easy and sometimes it even threatens the things that we hold dear. The fourth story shows the cost of a following Jesus when a "would-be" follower was warned by Jesus that, "foxes have holes... but the son of man has no where to lay his head." In a storm at sea, Jesus rebukes the disciples for having little faith. But perhaps we can sympathize with their struggle to trust Jesus as their "boat was being swamped by waves." When Jesus does calm the storm - with a mere word - they are actually more frightened. "Who is this that even the wind and the waves obey him?" Later, Jesus turns the life of a gentile village upside down when he heals a man from demon possession. But this salvation is too costly for the town. The healing cost them their pigs and the presence of unpredictable power in this wandering Jewish teacher seems to have been threatening to their independence and security - so they drove him away.
Faith connects us to the power of Jesus. It requires nothing from us, but dependence and surrender. But the life of faith is costly. The things we are called to surrender are precious to us - home, safety, possessions...control. Do we prefer a safe controllable life... or a life of faith? In a life of faith we see the power of God poured out onto our needs, but we also feel the insecurity of following a homeless savior, we find ourselves on swamped boats in a stormy sea and our prized pigs end up at the bottom of the sea.
In what ways does following Jesus challenge your sense of control or require you to give up things that you treasure? In what parts of your life is Jesus calling you trust him and give up control... in spite of the immediate consequences? -MK