Matthew 8:19
We have here two types of possible disciples of Christ. Each has its defects, though they are opposite in character.

I. THE HASTY DISCIPLE. One of the scribes, one of the official teachers of religion, is enraptured at what he sees of the gracious Galilaean ministry. He will follow Christ anywhere.

1. The scribe's offer. It is well that he is attracted to Christ. Being attracted, he naturally desires to follow the great Teacher and Healer, that he may ha always in his presence. No doubt he intends the following to be a genuine discipleship. He will sit at the Master's feet and devote himself to his service. Yet he is very hasty; he has not thought out his project; he does not know what it involves; therefore he cannot say whether he is prepared to be faithful to his promise. It is foolish to make a profession of devotion to Christ before we know what his service really is. There is much that is attractive in him, and in favourable moments our hearts are moved and go out to him. But all this may be like Ephraim's goodness, like the morning cloud, like the growth on the stony ground.

2. Christ's reply.

(1) The statement of a fact. Jesus was a poor Man, who had no home of his own; having abandoned the not very lucrative craft of a carpenter, he was dependent on the hospitality of the grateful. But he who lives on gratitude has a most uncertain livelihood. Yet Jesus humbled himself to this condition. Birds and foxes had more.

(2) A needful warning. The servant must be as his master. Christ's genuine disciples had forsaken all to follow him. Let us count the cost, for there will be cost in all Christian service. It is a dangerous sign if what we think to be the service of Christ brings us ease and affluence.

II. THE RELUCTANT DISCIPLE.

1. His call. The first disciple had not waited for the call of Christ. He had boldly volunteered for the service, and he had been taught a lesson of humility and reflection. But now Christ himself calls another disciple. This is clearly stated by St. Luke (Luke 9:59). When Christ calls, it is our part to respond at once. The case is now quite altered. Duty does not admit of any consideration of difficulty or danger.

2. His excuse. He would first go and bury his father. This seems to be a most natural excuse. The sacred duty of filial piety would appear to claim the man. Burials in the East follow quickly on death. At most the son would be away but a few hours. Then he would be free to follow Christ for the remainder of his days. How can we blame him? It may be said at once that if this were a true view of the case he would have been excused, and Christ would have been the first to sympathize with him. Therefore we must conclude either

(1) that he meant he wanted to wait for his father's death, or

(2) that he was simply quoting a proverb - as an excuse in his case for more delay. But to postpone our coming to Christ is to show want of true devotion to him.

3. His rebuke. Jesus saw through the hypocritical excuse. Yet he answered the man after his own style. He would postpone the service of Christ to secular interests. But the secular minded who are spiritually dead can attend to those affairs. Christ's claim is paramount. He is no true disciple who treats what is dearest to him in such a way as to make it a hindrance to his service of Christ. The most sacred home ties are snares when they interfere with our devotion to our Divine Lord. - W.F.A.







Master, I will follow Thee.
I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST'S TREATMENT OF THE IMPETUOUS SCRIBE. He declares his determination to follow Christ, lead where He may. Christ checks rather than encourages the man. We may regard the determination of the scribe as — the resolution of an unreflecting emotionalist, and an ambitious worldling. Our Lord's words have important applications in our own day.

II. THE SUGGESTIVENESS OF CHRIST'S TREATMENT OF THE SHRINKING AND HESITATING DISCIPLE. Christ might have seen in this request a sensitive shrinking from the sacrifice and sufferings involved in following Him. The man had heard the words in verse 20, or Christ might have foreseen that to grant it, would be attended with fatal results to his yet unripened discipleship. Immediate decision was the essential conditions of his salvation.

(J. Taylor.)

I. THE FOLLOWERS ON THE SEA-SHORE.

1. The hasty follower who is the first who presents himself, and he is sifted by Christ.

2. The tardy follower is hastened by Jesus. He is called not to bury the dead, but to preach the life-giving word.

3. The last of the three followers is halting with a divided heart, and is reproved. It is not the claims of family, but the clinging of His own unloosened attachment that divides and detains Him.

II. THE PASSAGE ACROSS THE LAKE.

(A. M. Stuart.)

I. High-sounding words are not always a proof of deeply rooted faith.

II. Christ should be followed for what He is in Himself, as well as for what He has to bestow.

III. The omniscience of Christ enables Him to detect the most hidden motives of men.

IV. The poverty of Christ may well excite our wonder and gratitude.

(H. G. Parrish, B. A.)

Every man has a "Master"; business, home, etc., command and we obey. Every person has a master passion, also every man is a master. Has the power of will; is a servant by consent. The resultant of these two facts, is necessitated relationship to something.

I. Christ is a valuable companion because He embodies a lofty and PERFECT MORAL IDEAL, the expression of the grandest conception of truth this world has ever known. He gives the idea and the grace to imitate it.

II. Christ is a PLEASANT companion. Imparts joy and sense of security — hope.

III. Christ is a SAFE guide. But if a man is to follow Christ there are some conditions which he must observe.

1. There must be a fixed purpose. "I will " must be will and not impulse only.

2. You will require courage.

3. You will have to take on the habits of the Lord Jesus. You cannot follow Him and be selfish and narrow.

(J. R. Day, D. D.)

It is not that you desire wrong things; it is not that you desire to avoid right things; but you say," Suffer me first to do the inferior, and then I shall be ready for the superior. Suffer me first to take care of myself. Suffer me first to take care of my household. Suffer me first to take care of my business. Suffer me first to take care of my party. Suffer me first to look after this enterprise, and then — "No! this constant habit of humbling the higher, and making it subordinate to the lower; this constant preference of the inferior to the superior, works demoralization. A man does not need to throw away his Bible, nor defy his God, nor sell his soul voluntarily. He only needs to say, "Suffer me first to do this lesser thing." The moment that is done, there will be another " Suffer me first" in its place. And so we shall put the inferior duties in the place of higher duties, and go through life, and fail at last.

(Beecher.)

A man fascinated with the idea of raising fruit, goes to the country and sets out his orchards with bright anticipations as to the result. But no sooner have his trees got well started than all nature becomes his tormentor. The frost blasts the blossoms. The worms gnaw the roots. The insects sting both blossom and roots. And when he has toiled year after year, and brought his trees into such a state that he thinks that he is going to have a profusion of delicious fruit, the black wart seizes his plum-trees, and the gum-canker attacks his cherry-trees, and the winterblight kills his pear-trees, and his apple-trees will not bear anyhow; and at last disgusted with raising fruit, he comes back to the city, and says, "I prefer, after all, that other people should be my pomologists. I have had enough of gardening."

(Beecher.)

Oh! what pictures there would be, if I could only take the trouble to learn to paint the things that I dream about! Such frescoes I Such magnificent renderings of magnificent scenes! Such portraitures! The trouble is, that while my imagination is fruitful enough, it is a shiftless and careless fruitfulness, and it never comes down lower than that, and dies in the nest where it was born. I think of things, and turn them over, and turn them over, and make pictures, and forget them, and make pictures, and forget them; but I am not an artist. An artist is a man whose wishes get down through his shoulders to his fingers; and he makes what he wishes he was going to make. He does. He turns into account that which would otherwise die as smoke or cloud. Men of reverie are like clouds that never rain. Men of function shower down resolutions in the form of drops, and results spring up from them.

(Beecher.)

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF A PROMPT AND RESOLUTE DEVOTEDNESS OF MIND TO THE GREAT CONCERN OF RELIGION. This is to follow Christ, and includes:

1. The candid reception of His revelation.

2. It involves a surrender of ourselves to Christ as our Saviour and Governor.

3. It imparts an ardent solicitude for the prevalence of his religion.

II. THE EGREGIOUS FOLLY OF STIFLING RELIGIOUS IMPRESSIONS IN FAVOUR OF SUCH DEVOTEDNESS, BY WORLDLY CONSIDERATIONS. "Let the dead bury their dead."

1. Some are prevented from an immediate compliance with their convictions, by the notion that their happiness is to be found in the world, which they would be required to abandon.

2. Some by the remonstrances of worldly relatives and friends.

3. Some by some particular worldly object of pursuit, upon which, for the moment, they are intent, and which promises soon to leave them at liberty.

(J. Leifchild.)

I. THE MEN OF THE WORLD ARE BUT DEAD MEN. The sentence of death passed upon all men still abides: it is not repealed. As dead as men in their graves. You rotting above the ground, and they under (Romans 8:10). As there is in the sinner a seeming life, so is there in the righteous a seeming death. They may seek a new life.

1. They may become alive in their apprehensions of God.

2. They are alive in their devotions to God.

3. These awakened sinners are alive in their obedience to God.

II. As THE MEN OF THE WORLD ARE, SO ALSO ARE THE THINGS ABOUT WHICH THEY ARE CONVERSANT. They are dead things, they have no real life in them. They perish in the using. (W. Gilpin, M.A.)

I. THE STRIKING FACT.

II. REASONS FOR THIS.

1. As the Son of Man He was the federal representative of our race, in certain important respects. — He showed:

(1)That man has forfeited all right to shelter upon earth.

(2)That we should seek shelter elsewhere, and not look for our portion on earth.

2. In the work of our redemption it was needful for Jesus to stoop thus low.

(1)It was part of the penalty lie bore.

(2)He went down to the lowest of men.

(3)It was to illustrate the unearthliness of His religion.

III. Some additional reflections:

1. Christian, adore the humiliation and condescension of your loving Lord.

2. Be willing if need be to suffer shame and poverty with Him.

3. If more happily circumstanced be amazed and overwhelmed with gratitude at your superior lot.

4. Yet set not your affections on earthly possessions.

5. Nor despise poorer brethren.

6. If offering to follow Christ, count the cost.

7. In another sphere, how this saying is reversed.

(T. G. Horton.)

A little boy, between four and five years old, was one day reading to his mother in the New Testament; and when he came to these words, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head," his eyes filled with tears, his tender breast heaved, and at last he sobbed aloud. His mother inquired what was the matter; but for some time he could not answer her. At length, as well as his sobs would let him, he said, "I am sure, mamma, if I had been there, I would give Him my pillow."

I. CHRIST'S REMARK ON THE PROVISION MADE FOR THE HABITATION OF THE INFERIOR CREATURES. Men have reason, are able to contrive habitations for themselves; Providence hath furnished them with trees, stones, etc., for this end. Suitable provision also made for the inferior creatures. Tame animals are accommodated by the care of man; wild beasts directed by instinct to proper places (Job 39:27; Psalm 104:17).

II. CHRIST'S REPRESENTATION OF HIS OWN DESTITUTE CIRCUMSTANCES.

1. How wise and faithful was Christ in this representation; how much instruction doth it convey to His followers. A test of sincerity.

2. The condecension of Christ in submitting to these hardships is truly admirable.

3. How reasonable is it that the disciples of Christ should be humble when they have, and contented when they have not, the comfortable accommodations of life!

4. With how much pleasure should we think of the exaltation and glory of Christ in heaven.

(J. Orton.)

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