As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. So they went on to another village. As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:51-62 (NLT)
Did you ever notice how easy it is to get on somebody’s list….and how agonizingly-hard it can be to get off? Jesus said follow me to lots of folk; but he didn’t make it easy to join the band; he wanted them to have their eyes wide-open about the cost of following.
There are three primary costs of following Jesus in this text:
1. Sometimes you must forbear
James and John wanted to call down judgment on the rude Samaritans. Jesus rebuked them; it wasn’t their job to judge, even in the face of injustice and unfair evil attacks.
We watched “Selma” last week; Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to non-violent resistance of oppression was the epitome of what Jesus wanted in disciples. James and John had a long way to go.
2. Sometimes you must forego
One person offered to follow Jesus in whatever direction, and to whatever length the journey took him. Jesus said, really? Then he laid-out the retirement plan – zero! There would be no assurance of even a place to lie down and rest.
Are you sure you want to follow?
3. Sometimes you must forge-on
The last two people in our text wanted to take care of family responsibilities first – then follow Jesus anywhere. Jesus said, if that’s how you organize your priorities you’re not ready to follow ME.
The point is not that Jesus doesn’t value family – there’s too much Scriptural evidence otherwise. The point is that sometimes family expectations and tradition will make it hard to keep your eye on the goal of serving the Kingdom. And sometimes your family will just, plain, not understand.
At such times you’ve got to know that when all else is weighed – family responsibilities, cultural expectations, injustice and the cries of whatever crowd the crowd is following these days – at the end of the day, if you’re following Jesus, you’re going to have to follow Jesus. You must forge-on.
Is there anything that wants to take Jesus’ place?
Let the dead bury the dead…follow Christ; but do it with eyes wide-open. It won’t be easy, and you will get tired, hungry, overstressed and underappreciated.
Sounds like there are crosses in your future!