Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”


He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.


The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” – Matthew 8:23-27 (NIV)





I visited my parents for a few days last week. We had a real good time together. We did some eating and some shopping and a little more eating and a little more shopping and watched a couple of movies and ate a little bit more.


Do you notice a theme here? Yeah. Me, too. (She said, with a smile on her face!)


Anyway, one morning while we were sitting at the table eating breakfast, we started talking about the different residences they, as a couple, and later us, as a family, had lived in since their marriage.


We talked about the early apartments and the duplex and the garage apartment with a steep staircase and then a complete house to rent and after that a nicer house to rent. And finally a house to own. And then the house they’ve now lived in for over three decades.


We talked about when they only had a washer but no dryer and two small active girls. And what happened to a particular parakeet and a few tiny turtles that lived on our tiny screened porch. But we won’t talk about that here.


We remembered rare snowfalls and frozen little hands. And getting an electrical shock when you touched the mixer and another person at the same time – because some residential electrical systems weren’t grounded back then.


Later, when we had finished reminiscing, my dad said, “Thank you.” We said, “For what?”


And he said, “I remembered things today that I didn’t know I remembered. I’m so glad it’s all still there. It just took somebody jogging my memory.”


I have that same problem sometimes. Don’t you?


And that’s the same problem the disciples experienced in today’s passage.


Just think about what those guys had already witnessed in their brief journey with Jesus.


They’d seen him heal all kinds of diseases. We know he healed a paralyzed servant boy without even seeing him. And we know he healed a man with leprosy. And we know he healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever that had her bedridden.


And we know there were a lot more healings. He healed every disease and sickness that was brought to him. People in severe pain, the demon-possessed, those suffering with seizures, and the paralyzed.


He healed them ALL. No sweat.


And the disciples were eyewitnesses to all of this.


And yet they’re now in a situation where they believe they’re all going to die.


And some of these guys are professional fishermen. They’ve been in horrible storms before.


But there’s someone else with them on this voyage. It’s the same person they watched heal the paralyzed servant and the people in severe pain. And the lepers. And the demon-possessed.


I just don’t think those memories were at the forefront of the disciples’ minds at this particular point in their trip.


I have a feeling the only thing they were thinking about was trimming sails and bailing water and watching their lives flash before their eyes.


The KNEW they were dead in the water.


And then they look over and see Jesus. Sleeping. Like a baby.


Because Jesus apparently knew something they didn’t.


He KNEW that the same person who can heal a paralyzed body can just as easily calm a storm.


Of any kind.


So whatever storm you’re in today, start asking yourself questions about your past experiences. Jog your memory and remind yourself about where you’ve come from, what circumstances you’ve been through, and WHO got you through every storm in your life.


Because that same person is still with you today – in your current storm. And He still has the same power – the power that’s strong enough to raise the dead. And I doubt you need power any stronger than that.


So keep all those memories fresh. Keep rehearsing your testimonies. And the testimonies of other people – because God doesn’t love them any more than He loves you. What He did for them, He can do for you.


And that is what will keep your faith alive and well.


In any storm.

Check That Price Tag

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”


Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”


Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”


Matthew 8:18-22



In these verses, Jesus sounds a little schizo to me. But I believe He’s making two very important points—points based on the premise that following Him can be costly.


At this time in His ministry, Jesus is very popular. He’s being followed by huge crowds wherever He goes. They listen to His messages and then they crowd around Him to be healed of all their diseases and delivered from all of their demons.


What’s not to love!


So the teacher of the law in this passage was witnessing Jesus’s extreme popularity.


What Jesus wanted the teacher of the law to know was that he was not seeing the whole picture.


A lot of people want to jump on a bandwagon when it’s being carried high by waves of popularity. And to be part of the inner circle of that kind of phenomenon could add a lot to your self-esteem—not to mention your resume.


But Jesus knew that when the crowds went home each night, He didn’t have a home to go to.


He wanted the teacher of the law to make his decision based on full disclosure of all the facts.


Then there’s the other disciple who wants to go back and bury his father before he follows Jesus.

At first glance this seems like a legitimate request. But he’s probably not talking about returning home for a few days to complete the funeral and burial process. This disciple is probably saying his father is elderly and he needs to go back home and take care of him until his death.


What I believe Jesus is talking about in this instance is the fact that there will be relationships we will have to adjust in order to follow Him as closely as He’s calling us to.


I do NOT believe Jesus is saying we need to dishonor any of our family members or divorce a spouse or shirk our duty to our young children or aging parents in order to be His disciple. That would totally go against what is taught throughout scripture.


But I do believe that our relationship with Jesus and our pursuit of His calling on our life supercedes ALL earthly relationships. And there will be times when our obedience of His directives and His priorities for our life will not be understood or appreciated by some of our closest friends or family.


That is another part of the cost of following Him.


So before we jump on the bandwagon during a popular ‘Jesus season’ or before we find an excuse to back off of our commitment to Him, let’s look again at the cost of following Jesus . . . and the rewards.


Because whatever earthly possessions or relationships we may forfeit by following Jesus—those are going to pale in comparison to everything we gain.


Just Jesus

Earlier in Matthew 8, after Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount, He healed a leper and then a paralyzed servant.

Now He’s at Peter’s house and sees Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.

So Jesus did what He always does when He’s confronted with sickness. He heals.

And later that night, sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Him and He healed them all.

Two things stick out in this section for me.

First, Jesus is the same everywhere he goes. He’s not a different person with the crowd than He is with His friends. He doesn’t have a different agenda in private than He does in public. He’s just Jesus. Wherever He is and whoever He’s with. He sees everybody and He has compassion for anyone who’s hurting.

And second, He never met a sickness or disease or demon He couldn’t handle. Or didn’t want to handle. His priority was making things whole again, bringing things back into alignment with how they were intended to be.

That’s still His priority. Bringing things – and especially people – back into alignment with how they were intended to be.

What are God’s intentions for you and your life?

What’s going on in your life now that reveals how He’s working to bring you back into alignment with those intentions?

How well are you cooperating with His plan?


14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
and bore our diseases.”

Just Say the Word

The next story in Matthew 8 is about an incredible miracle. (I’m not sure there’s any other kind.) But there’s something about the passage that’s a little confusing to me.


When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”


Wait. What?!?


To me if would make more sense if Jesus had said, I haven’t found anyone in Israel with such a great understanding of authority.


The centurion never uses the word faith. But he talks a lot about authority.


The centurion lived under authority and led with authority.


When his superiors told him to do something, he did it. He was under their authority.


And when he told one of his soldiers or servants to do something, they did it. They were subject to him. He had authority over them.


He completely understood how authority works.


I wonder if understanding authority better makes having faith a little easier.


The centurion knew that Jesus had authority over all kinds of sickness and disease and demons. Apparently he had either watched Jesus in action or heard about him from people who had.


I don’t think the centurion had to conjure up enough faith to believe Jesus could heal his servant.


Or repeat scriptures over and over again trying to build his faith.


Or rehearse positive affirmations about the goodness of God to try to erase his doubt.


He didn’t have any doubt Jesus could heal his servant. Because he knew Jesus had authority over every problem he was facing.


And he also knew that, because of that authority, Jesus didn’t even have to be in the presence of his servant in order to heal him. All He had to do was “just say the word.”


How could he be so bold? Because he knew that if he told one of his soldiers to do something, he didn’t have to stand around and watch to make sure it was done. He knew his orders would be carried out because of the authority he carried.


So how does this relate to our faith?


It seems to me Jesus is saying that faith, in some ways, comes from knowing WHO HE IS, His position, and understanding the authority He has, based on that position, over the issues we’re dealing with in our lives.


But we already know all that, don’t we?


Then how does a Roman centurion who didn’t attend synagogue or read the ancient scriptures have more faith than a lot of us modern-day “Christians” with a church on every corner and multiple Bibles in our homes?


That’s a very good question. And it makes the rest of this story even more interesting.


11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.