Check out the passage I had to prepare notes on yesterday!
The Cost of Following Jesus
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Straight away I’m scrambling to defend Jesus teaching…. Actually to adjust it, maybe soften it a bit? “Jesus didn’t really mean this, he is exaggerating to make a point.”
Actually his point is meant to hit us hard, and we do well to consider what Jesus says about what it means to follow him.
What he asks of us is a determination to follow him, so strong that in comparison it looks like we hate our families! (Remember that we understand this teaching in the context of the rest of the Bible, which teaches respect for our families, as unto God!)
The temptation to delay counting this cost, or to put our service for Christ on hold, can come from so many directions:
“My A levels are my priority right now.”
“I need time to concentrate on this new relationship”
“I’m just taking a break while I settle into my Job.”
“These days the kids just take all my time and energy”
Please don’t think I am pointing the finger at you, I am squirming in my seat as I write this, It seems too strong, too much.
Let’s face it. There is always something waiting eagerly to take the place of Jesus in our lives.
But Jesus says “No one who puts their hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” And just a few verses earlier in Luke 9:25 “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
The stakes are high, following Jesus is all or nothing, and generally I’m more of a cautious, hedge your bets kind of girl!
Yet Jesus is the only one qualified to make this demand of us, and it’s not meant to be a heavy burden. Remember that this is the same Lord who says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:27-29 and “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:34-36.
As we follow him wholeheartedly we realise that it’s what we were always designed to do!
So what does this mean for you and I?
I’m actually worried as I write the Bible study on this passage. I don’t want to put people off! But I do want them to follow Christ with full awareness of what he calls us to.
I am first to confess that I didn’t fully know what I was getting into the day I gave my life to Christ! My childish hands offered him a token part of my heart. But in his grace he grows me every day, so that I gradually give over more and more of the life that he made and I withhold from his lordship.
He is gentle. He uses scripture to increase my trust in his love for me, and in his transcendent wisdom. I take comfort in the promise that he has walked before me, and I simply follow in his footsteps.
Following Jesus may sometimes mean much joy, peace, excitement, witnessing miracles, and seeing the gospel at work. But equally those who sign up as followers of Christ can expect hardship – Jesus often had nowhere to lay his head! It might mean suffering, it will mean taking up your cross, dying daily to self, killing sinful desires, striving for things that please Him.
Let’s consider soberly what we promise when we start the journey of following after Christ.