Flight School: The 4,000 – Context

Matthew 15:29-38
Jesus is sitting on a mountain somewhere alongside the Sea of Galilee. Large crowds have come out to see Him, bringing with them those who are in need of healing; the lame, the crippled, the blind, the mute along with many others whom they bring before Jesus who is healing them. This is no longer a group of disciples who are getting to know their master or each other. They have been traveling and working together for the better part of three years; they are the proverbial ‘well-oiled machine’, with roles defined, expectations understood and duties mastered. It is into this apparently smooth running ministry that Jesus interjects His implied request of v.32; ‘I have compassion for these people, they have been out here in the middle of nowhere with Me for three days and are without food. I don’t want them collapsing on their way home.’ To put it another way, Jesus throws a monkey-wrench into the works. This well-oiled machine is not prepared to feed anyone but themselves.

Continue reading

Flight School: Waking Jesus Up

Matthew 8:23-27
Matthew records the question of the disciples after the calming of the storm slightly different than Mark and Luke. Matthew shows us the fuller meaning of the question by recording that the disciples didn’t just ask in amazement “who is this” but also “What kind of man is this?” (NIV). “Who is this” expresses surprise that one did not know something about a person. You think you know the person but they do something unexpected. Jesus did that and so some of the disciples would have exclaimed, “Wow! Who is this?” But Matthew shows us that at least some of the disciples were beginning to see that Jesus was something more than an ordinary man.

Continue reading

Flight School: Jesus Calms the Storm

Matthew 8:23-27
The cost of discipleship must be weighed and measured as we agree to follow Jesus. Jesus wants to take us through unfamiliar places – far from our current comfort zone – to get us to a far better place than we’ve ever seen. The question we need to ask ourselves isn’t so much “do we want to be better off?” as much as “do we trust Jesus?” Are we too full of worry to take that leap of faith?

Continue reading

Flight School: The Storm – Context

Matthew 8:23-27
Jesus and His disciples are in an apparently huge and sudden storm out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. The waves are crashing over the boat (v.25) and threatening to swamp and sink it. The disciples are in a panic, fighting for both the life of the boat and their own lives. Jesus, somehow, is asleep, in spite of all the chaos, water and pandemonium. The disciples wake Him up; “Save us Lord; we are perishing!” (v.25). Jesus’ answer is startling today, and must have been on that day in the middle of all that was going on. “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Really? Why are we afraid? Do you need us to point out to You this storm and the water pouring into the boat? Do we need to explain to You what will happen when this boat sinks? And what does faith have to do with it? I know that if I would have been the one shaking Jesus awake, being ‘startled’ by His action would have been an understatement. I would have been mad. But if we are going to understand what it is that Jesus is really asking His disciples in the middle of their panic, we have to go back and look at what has been going on leading up to this moment.

Continue reading

Flight School: Introduction

Welcome to Flight School! Jesus calls twelve specific men to follow Him. They are fishermen, tax-collectors, political activists and who knows what else. They are men who, for whatever reason, catch His eye and as a result, are asked to leave everything and ‘Follow Me!’ They are men who answer that challenge by putting down whatever they are doing and following. What is Jesus’ purpose in calling these men? What is His plan? What is He expecting to accomplish with these twelve men and how does He expect to accomplish it? Jesus reveals His purpose when He calls Simon Peter to leave his nets by saying ‘you will become fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19). But just what does that mean and what are the methods that Jesus had in mind for that transformation from ‘fisherman’ to ‘fisher of men’?

Continue reading

Out of Egypt: Promised Land Lost

Numbers 14
It is a sad thing. The people of Israel have left Egypt. They have witnessed multiple miracles. They have been forgiven multiple times for their wickedness. They have a covenant with the living almighty God. Yet when the promise is in reach, they turn away from it in fear. They have put down their bricks, they have put away their idols, they have the promise in their grasp yet in the end, they want to go back to Egypt. Sad, no, even more than sad, it is tragic.

Continue reading