Matthew 8:18–34: Objections to Jesus’ Authority
In Matthew 8:18–34, Jesus continues to unveil the majesty of his authority. He has more authority than the scribal teachers of his day (Matt. 7:29), and more authority than the priests, temple, and sacrifices of the old covenant (Matt. 8:1–17). How far, though, does his authority really extend? In this section, Jesus addresses objections raised against his authority in the context of discipleship: some objections from his would-be followers, others from his actual disciples, and still others from his enemies. Scene by scene, difficulty by difficulty, we discover without fail that the authority of Jesus withstands all objections.
1. What was the scribe offering to Jesus (v. 19)? What does Jesus’ response tell us about the scribe’s readiness to follow through with this offer (v. 20)? What kind of a discipleship arrangement was the disciple bereaved of his father offering (v. 21)? Why does Jesus respond so sternly (v. 22)? What cost weighs most heavily upon you regarding the prospect of following Jesus? What about Jesus tells you that his value is worth the cost of discipleship?
2. What do the disciples experience when they follow their Master onto the boat (v. 23–24)? Where is Jesus in the midst of the chaos? What sort of a man is Jesus to lead them into this storm, and then fall asleep? What do we learn about their condition by their terse request to Jesus (v. 25)? How does Jesus respond to them (v. 26)? What sort of faith does Jesus expect from his followers? What sort of a man is Jesus, since even winds and sea obey him (v. 27)?
3. How much information do we have about the demon-possessed men in Matthew’s Gospel (v. 28)? What do the demons possessing these men say to Jesus? What is “the time” (v. 29)? What does Jesus say in response to the defiant challenges of these demons? What do we learn about the demons when they beg Jesus to send them away into the pigs (v. 31)? What do we learn about the townspeople when they beg Jesus to go away from them (v. 34)?
4. What costs paralyze you from following Jesus? While counting the cost is good and right (Luke 14:28), how should we calculate the value of Jesus? Where have the waves of danger covered you over in your life? How might fear stir up, awaken, and activate faith to seek out Jesus, when you might not have otherwise? How does Jesus’ holiness feel burdensome to you? Why doesn’t Jesus leave you alone? How will you respond to his presence?