There were people who believed in Jesus but never followed his call. At the end of Luke 9 (vs 57-62) we find a string of people who have interactions with Jesus but who all decide not to follow him.
The first man offers to follow Jesus saying, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
We never hear from this man again. Unlike the rest of Jesus’ calls this man initiates the conversation. He does so with bold talk but poor follow through. There is a significant number of people who fall into this category. They talk big but are short on action.
Our walk and our talk need to match. Our “wherever you go” stipulation is going to include suffering and difficulty. We must accept that on the front end and trust Jesus will help us through it.
Jesus actually calls the next man, would he have been the 13 disciple? Who knows…The next two people have reasons to not follow Jesus yet.
“He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’”
This man’s reaction is a little mysterious. He replies, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
“Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
And how about the last man? What was his excuse?
“I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
to which Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
There have been a lot of attempts to iron out the man who asked to go bury his father. Some say the father isn’t dead and he is asking for time to spend with his father before he dies. That is an attempt to take the edge of the text and isn’t at all clear that is what the man means. Other say Jesus is talking about those who are spiritually dead (those not following Jesus) which is also an attempt to soften the force of the text.
In both instances, what Jesus says isn’t soft. It is hard. Jesus is emphasizing the radical nature of being a disciple. Jesus is in their midst. This is the time to follow. Nothing else is as important as this.
Maybe this is where you have found yourself. I see myself here a little too clearly – I am going to do this disciple thing but not quite yet.
I want to do ministry how I always have. Discipleship will require changes.
I am going to do marriage how I always have. Discipleship will require changes.
On and on we could go…
None of us are in their position, with Jesus literally in front of us and only a limited time to follow him before he is crucified but I believe there is an important point in this passage for us – discipleship takes sacrifice. It will require making changes. Discipleship can disrupt family obligations. Discipleship means some of the things we want, even perfectly good things, will have to wait or may never happen at all.
This is discipleship. Jesus comes first. If you put your hand to the plow (take following him seriously) there is no need to look back and wonder how things worked out in your absence or what would have happened if you hadn’t made the decision to follow Jesus. You won’t have to do this because you will have Jesus and that will be all that matters.
Discipleship isn’t easy. That’s why few take this path as seriously as they should. But we must take this seriously and that means we aren’t going to be able to have everything once we pick Jesus. But in picking Jesus we get everything that is most important.
What is your “Not yet” item?
What is your “wherever you go” stipulation?
What does discipleship challenge in you that you would rather not have challenged?