Sketched VII Day 5 All In: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) How can I follow Jesus wherever He goes? (verse 19)

2) Why did the Son of Man have no place to lay His head? (verse 20)

3) What did Jesus mean by “let the dead bury their own dead?” (verse 22)

Matthew 8:18-22

When Jesus saw a large crowd around him, he gave the order to go to the other side of the sea. 19 A scribe approached him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  20 Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 21 “Lord,” another of his disciples said, “first let me go bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.

Original Intent

1) How can I follow Jesus wherever He goes? (verse 19)
In Matthew 8:19, a scribe tells Jesus he will follow Jesus wherever he goes.  Dr Knox Chamblin  explains the Greek term grammateus means teacher of the law, and the scribe himself could also be called a disciple.  Author John Dummelow points out, “The offer of a recognized rabbi (scribe) to become a follower of Jesus was an attractive one, especially as no influential person had yet become Jesus’ disciple.  Jesus, however, did not hastily accept the offer. To test the sincerity of the new convert, he required him to count the cost. He must give up all to follow Christ—home-comforts, wealth, honour, and all prospects of advancement. Like his Master, he must have no place to lay his head.” Jesus was making sure the scribe knew that to follow Jesus wherever He goes would mean to follow Him into lowly places, not palaces.  It would mean following Him into service and sacrifice.  Jesus wanted the scribe to be fully informed about his commitment before making a decision to follow Jesus.  Jesus wanted him to make the choice with full information, not just what he imagined it would be like to connect himself to the Messiah.

2) Why did the Son of Man have no place to lay His head? (verse 20)
In Matthew 8:20, Jesus tells a scribe who wants to follow Him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” According to Don Stewart, “The scribes were the ones who drew up legal documents. They also copied the Old Testament Scripture. They also devoted themselves to the study of the law, and the determination of its applications on daily life. They also studied the Scripture with respect to doctrinal and historical matters. Noted scribes had their own disciples. Many of the scribes were members of the Jewish council.” Scribes were not just commoners, but were of a higher social class.  Author Adam Clarke tells us “The Son of Man” is a Hebrew phrase expressing “humiliation and debasement; and, on that account, applied emphatically to himself, by the meek and lowly Jesus. Besides, it seems here to be used to point out the incarnation of the Son of God, according to the predictions of the prophets.”  Jesus calls himself “Son of Man” in front of the scribe to make a point to him.  Dr. Thomas Constable explains “the Son of Man occurs in a context that stresses Jesus’ humanity. The scribe would have understood Jesus to mean that if he followed Jesus he could anticipate a humble, even uncomfortable, existence. He should also have understood, since he was a teacher of the Old Testament, that Jesus was claiming to be Israel’s Messiah.”  Jesus was letting the scribe know that following the Messiah would not be a life filled with power and glory, but rather humility and difficulty.

3) What did Jesus mean by “let the dead bury their own dead?” (verse 22)
In Matthew 8:21, a disciple of Jesus declares his intention to follow the Messiah as soon as he first buries his father.  Jesus tells him in Matthew 8:22, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” According to commentator, Peter Pett, “The responsibility for burying a father fell to the eldest son, and it could be quite a performance. Even a priest was allowed to forsake his duties in order to fulfill this obligation. But it should be noted that a Nazirite who was under an oath of dedication to God was also not allowed to bury his father. . .Thus it may be that Jesus is bringing out the extraordinary level of dedication required of His disciples, which was to be seen as on a level with that of a lifelong Nazirite or a High Priest.”  Author Daniel Whedon points out the “play upon the double sense of the word dead. Let the spiritually dead bury the corporeally dead. Let a secular world perform its duties to its secular members. Our duties must be applied to a life eternal.”  Jesus’ seemingly harsh response to the man’s request is made to emphasize the importance of following Jesus and putting Him above all else in our lives.

Everyday Application

1) How can I follow Jesus wherever He goes? (verse 19)
I was, in general, an obedient, compliant child.  I aimed to please, and even won a “peacemaker” award in school. Every so often, however, I would put my foot down and defy orders. Usually it was about having to wear a dress, or eat vegetables, or brush my teeth.  I could not find a way to give in and also do what I didn’t want to do.  I would rather face the unpleasant consequences than bend my will.  I don’t think I have changed too much in the last 40 years! I balk at different things now, but overcoming my own will and choosing another’s is still incredibly hard for me. I choose to follow Jesus, but I hesitate when He goes where I don’t want to go.   But the Lord is gently changing my heart!  He is teaching me that everything I have is a gift from Him. (James 1:17) When He asks me to give my time, money, and talents, He is just asking me to share what He gave me. (Matthew 10:8) I am learning that even when I don’t like what He is asking me to do, obeying His will and trusting His plan is the way that leads to life.  Jesus tells us in John 8:12 He is the “Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”  I may complain and argue and dig my heels in, but, ultimately I realize if I truly love Jesus (John 14:15), I will follow wherever He leads me, even when it means following Him into homeschooling or children’s ministry or extroverting when I prefer introverting.  When I recognize He fills me up so I can pour out (2 Corinthians 9:8), then I am more likely to respond with a ready “yes” when He asks me to follow Him.

2) Why did the Son of Man have no place to lay His head? (verse 20)
The older I get, the more I appreciate the comforts of home, with cushy pillows propped just-so on my bed, my favorite books within easy reach, and my collectibles positioned for maximum enjoyment. So, when Jesus tells the scribe who wants to be His disciple in Matthew 8:20, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head,” it seems shocking. As He pointed out to the scribe, the birds and foxes had more permanent lodging than Jesus. It is more shocking still when I realize Jesus was also speaking to me and all who want to follow Him.  As Dr. Thomas Constable asserts, “Anyone who wants to follow Jesus closely as a disciple must be willing to give up many of the normal comforts of life. Following Him involves embarking on a God-given mission in life. Going where He directs and doing what He commands must take precedence over enjoying the normal comforts of life when these conflict. Discipleship is difficult.”  Jesus warned that being a disciple is not always an easy path, but He also assured us the rewards are worth the difficulties. He tells us in Matthew 19:29, “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields because of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life.” He also promises in John 12:26, “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”  These verses promise inheritance and honor for serving the Lord that will far outlast our temporary lives on earth.  I am grateful Jesus gives me an honest look at life with Him, both the blessings and the challenges.  He gives us a choice to serve Him or not, and I agree with Joshua of the Old Testament, “As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

3) What did Jesus mean by “let the dead bury their own dead?” (verse 22)
Have you ever been invited somewhere you didn’t really want to go (neighbor’s birthday party for her dog, perhaps?) Have you rejoiced when you had an air-tight reason not to attend? Something like, “Sorry to miss this! We have family coming in from out of town.”  I wonder if this is how the disciple in Matthew 8:21 felt when he told Jesus he would follow him as soon as he buried his father.  He must have thought that even the Messiah would recognize the importance of this obligation and let him off the hook, at least temporarily.  Jesus’ reply of “let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22) must have shocked him.  The disciple’s “good excuse” was not more important than following Jesus. I know I have given Jesus these “good” excuses too, reasons that seemed completely valid and sure to excuse me.  There was a time I knew God was asking me to step into a greater role in service at my church, so I kept saying, “I will do that as soon as my kids are older, Lord, since you obviously want me to put them first.” I was not considering how the Lord wants me to put Him first and He will sort everything out for me. Matthew 6:33 tells us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”  God wants me to put Him first over my work, my family, and myself.  In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.”  If I recognize God is first, I will be able to produce much fruit and do all the things He has intended for me.  I don’t need to make excuses not to follow Him; I need to put Him first and watch what He will do in my life!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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