Fear and Faith in Matthew 8

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The big theme in Matthew 8 is “Faith”. There is a leper who comes to Jesus pleading to be clean and to be healed. A centurion comes and begs for his servant, many come to Jesus looking for healing. Finally, two demon possessed men are set free. However, in and among these stories of faith is doubt and questioning. Whilst many come in faith, others come hesitantly.  A man hedges his bets about following Jesus, wanting to bury his parents first. Another man, a scribe seems ready to follow but Jesus has to warn him that this is no light decision. It will be costly. The disciples themselves seem to have a faith problem as Christ rebukes their timidity when caught in a storm on the lake. Finally, when Jesus sends the demons into a herd of pigs, the local townspeople quickly count the cost and decide that they don’t want Jesus present in their town.

It is important to set this in context.  Matthew places these events immediately after the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon is all about what it means to be God’s happy people. Faith is seen in trusting Jesus and obeying his word. Spiritually poor, hungry and thirsty people come to him for life, they are heirs to the promise of blessing. Their lives are transformed so that they have God’s law on their hearts. By moving to an exposition on faith, Matthew points us to the truth that God’s happy people belong to his family by faith in Christ, not by their own efforts.

The challenge for us is about whether we display the evidence of faith. First of all, there is the question of saving faith. Do you have it? Have you put your trust in Jesus? Are you happy to have him at the centre of your life or would you rather have him out of the way because what he offers is too costly to you?

Secondly, if you have put your trust in Jesus, is there evidence of faith there. How are you respondinf to current circumstances? Are you overwhelmed by fear or are you showing by your life that you have faith in Christ?

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