Following Jesus is hard. It’s jumping off a cliff with no strings attached and hoping something will catch you. There’s discomfort; there’s doubt; there’s pain. Following Jesus is more than Chris Tomlin and Sunday School. Following Jesus is what we’ll be talking about today.
We’ll look at Luke 9:57-62. Here, Jesus is traveling and speaking to people who are deciding whether they want to follow or not. Slowly, we’ll discuss some of the main points in this passage.
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him [Jesus], “I will follow you wherever you go.”
This blunt guy -we’ll call him Jackson- straight up tells Jesus that he will follow him anywhere. But, where’s Jackson’s heart when he says this? Does he mean it? Of course, we can’t truly know, but I think the context may be able to tell us something.
The place that Jesus’ followers were travelling from did not welcome them.To me, it seems like Jackson is trying to impress Jesus with his kindness by saying, “Jesus! I know they didn’t like you, but I am so devoted to follow! I’m awesome!” In response, Jesus make him think.
58 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.”
Jesus tells him to slow down and process it because Jesus has no home, and if Jackson follows Jesus wherever he goes, he’ll have no home either. There are no consistencies when following Christ.
It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t immediately include him when Jackson says that he will follow. To use an analogy, a manager doesn’t hire someone for 40 hours a week when the employee can only work 15. The employee won’t work because they have not weighed what time they can sacrifice. Similarly, people must think about whether they are willing to sacrifice of themselves to follow Jesus. Jesus wanted him to decide if he had the 40 hours or 15.
59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
So an admittedly homeless guy turns to a different guy and says, “Follow me.” This guy, Mason, just heard that he would be homeless if he follows, so what does he say? He says he needs to go bury his father. Now, let’s think about this. If someone’s parent had just died or was deathly sick, would they really be walking around following a rabbi and travelling to a different city? NO. Mason’s tells him to wait until his dad dies to follow Jesus!
But, is it a bad thing to take care of family? No. The problem is that Mason let a not-really-bad thing take over the perfect opportunity. He made taking care of his dad and burying him more important than the literal call of Jesus.
61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Okay, so an admittedly homeless guy who just told another guy that he should let his dad die without burial is not someone most people would want to follow. So, this other guy begins his excuse before Jesus even gets to him. Again, we see someone put a not-really-bad thing above the immediate opportunity to follow Jesus. Jesus response says this as well; you cannot half-follow Jesus. It’s all or nothing.
What we learn from this passage is that non believers need to weigh their options and not just make an emotional, un-grounded decision while knowing there is little earthly sparkle to the life of a believer. It’s better but not easier. We also see that good things can become bad when they become an excuse for not following Jesus. And finally, the story is a reminder that we should not wait to serve God until it’s easy.
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