When I first moved to King’s Lynn, the mortgage surveyor for the 1920s flat I was buying was keen to check there were no signs of subsidence. Being a naïve twenty-something, I had to research what the term meant and was shocked to discover that subsidence is one of the most serious problems a property can suffer and happens if the ground beneath the property is unstable or too soft. Subsidence causes buildings to sink and serious structural damage ensues. Thankfully, my flat had strong foundations, so it got a clean bill of health and I was offered the mortgage.
In Matthew 7:24-29, Jesus teaches us about the importance of strong foundations in our spiritual lives. The parable of the wise and foolish builders tells us, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (v24). Why is it important to build our houses on the rock? Because throughout our lives we will face troubles and trials. If we have poor foundations, we will not be able to overcome our problems and we will feel like we are sinking into sand, getting washed away and drowning in the storms of life. If we stand on the foundation of God’s word, we can face any situation, however hard it might be, in the sure and certain knowledge that God is with us and that He will help us get through it. Jesus makes it clear that it is vital not just to hear His words, but to put them into practice. The words of the Bible are tremendously powerful and as we meditate on them, commit them to memory and pray them over ourselves and others, we build strong foundations of faith that will help us live victorious lives.
In Matthew 8:1-16, Jesus demonstrates His healing power. We see Him heal a leper, a centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law and many more who were sick and demon-possessed. Jesus touches the sick and they are healed; He speaks healing face to face; and He even releases His healing power to the centurion’s servant who is distant from Him by saying “Let it be done just as you believed it would”. Jesus’ ability to heal is still as powerful today as it was then!
Matthew 7:29 and 8:5-13 reveal the authority of Jesus and 8:17 the significance of Jesus as he is shown to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. “Bible scholars tell us that nearly 300 references to 61 specific prophecies of the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The odds against one person fulfilling that many prophecies would be beyond all mathematical possibility. It could never happen, no matter how much time was allotted. One mathematician’s estimate of those impossible odds is ‘one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion.’ ” Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 262.
The last passage in today’s reading 8:18-22 informs us that there is a cost to following Jesus. We are not promised that our lives will be easy, in fact we are told the opposite! If Jesus had nowhere to lay His head, why should we expect a life of constant comfort? Secondly, Jesus demands first place in our lives. The disciple who wanted to look after his ageing father until his death was delaying the ministry Jesus was calling him to and putting Jesus in second place, so Jesus rebuked him. Following Jesus means being ready to go wherever and whenever He calls.