Matthew’s Gospel: Obedience

We are told only that he came to Jesus as a turning point in his life. “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”

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Obedience to the commands of God is a great power, so often overlooked.

The scribe who came to Jesus announcing his intention to follow Jesus wherever He might lead was a brave man. Most of this tribe of leaders was violently opposed to Jesus so this man was breaking ranks; that takes courage. Matthew’s designation of “a certain scribe” indicates that he was a leader of some note. What gave him such courage

  • It could be that he could not deny what his eyes had seen: miracles, signs, wonders.
  • Perhaps the scriptures he had memorized since childhood came alive in his heart when Jesus spoke.
  • He may have been a man of deep prayer, longing for Messiah to come.

We are told only that he came to Jesus as a turning point in his life.

“Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”

Jesus and the men were about to cross the Sea of Galilee; this conversation halted their preparations to sail. Jesus looked deep into the man’s eyes and into his spirit to see the sincerity behind the courage. This was no time to go easy on a potential follower.

“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

We are not told how the man responded but it is likely that he obeyed the call of Jesus. In a rapid inventory of his life, he counted everything as worthless except to follow this healer/teacher.

  • Perhaps later he followed Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem as He strode toward Calvary.
  • It could be that he believes the news that Jesus was alive again and he was among the witnesses of His glory.
  • He may have seen the Lord ascend into heaven leaving a Great Commission and promising to return in the same way.
  • He could have been counted among the 120 on the Day of Pentecost who received fire from heaven and ran into the streets to proclaim the Jesus story.

There is no way to tell but we know that to obey the Lord is a powerful thing indeed.

No Time for Funerals

Another follower of Jesus needed to attend to some family business before He could follow Jesus; a father needed to be buried. We are not told if the man’s father was old and about to die, or in poor health, or had already passed. Jesus’s answer to this objection seems harsh:

“Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Sometimes obeying the Lord demands swift and sacrificial action. All things considered, it is better to follow now regardless of the cost.

The Winds and the Seas

When the voyage across the lake finally began, a violent storm set in, threatening the boat itself. The disciples were distraught while Jesus was asleep. They called to him and He stood up in the boat and rebuked the storm. It was replaced by a great calm. Even the winds and sea obeyed the voice of Jesus.

Obedience to the commands of God is a great power, so often overlooked


Matthew 8:18-34

And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”


Lord Jesus, help me see today the power of obedience to Your command. You will command any storms I may face. You will help me sort out my duties each day as I prioritize obedience to Your Word. Lord, I long to follow You wherever You lead, whatever the cost. Help me to trust and obey! Amen and amen.


Trust and Obey

Words: John H. Sammis; Music: D.B. Towner

1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word,

What a glory he sheds on our way!

While we do his goodwill, He abides with us still,

And with all who will trust and obey.


Trust and obey, for there’s no other way

to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

2. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,

But our toil he doth richly repay; not a grief or a loss,

Not a frown or a cross, but is blest if we trust and obey.


3. But we never can prove the delights of his love

Until all on the altar we lay; for the favor he shows,

For the joy he bestows, are for them who will trust and obey.


4. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at his feet,

Or we’ll walk by his side in the way;

What he says we will do, where He sends we will go;

Never fear, only trust and obey.


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About the Author

Full of passion for Jesus Christ, Stephen Phifer is a third-generation minister with more than three decades of experience as a pastoral artist, worship leader, and conductor.