New Testament Journey Day 33: Matthew 8:18-22. Jesus Teaches About the Cost of Following Him.
“When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake. Then of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, 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 to even lay his head.” Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me now: Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead.” – Matthew 8:18-22
Following Jesus is not always easy or comfortable. What he wants from us is simple obedience. That simple obedience often pushes us out of our comfort zone. But it’s also in that obedience we see God move, where we encounter His presence, and where we are left wanting more of Him. Often this obedience, this following him, means great cost and sacrifice, with no earthly rewards or security. Jesus didn’t have a place to call home. You may find that following Christ costs you popularity, friendships, leisure time, or treasured habits. But while the cost of following Christ is high, the value of being Christ’s disciple is even higher. Discipleship is an investment that lasts for eternity and yields incredible rewards.
Too many people today are “Self focused” – but the bible told us that would happen in 2 Timothy 3:1-9. “In the end times people will be lovers of themselves” and it goes on to describe what that looks like. Oh many say they love Jesus, and I believe they truly want to, but their hearts and minds are always focused on the next purchase they need to make, the spouse they think they need, or the car they need to drive. They contemplate the best “photo op” to post a picture to pull in comments and likes and build self esteem. All of these things will wither and fade away and have no bearing on our eternity. It’s not until we wake up and say “Here I am Lord, use me today” that we start to get it on straight. It’s when we become eternity minded that the peace comes that the world can’t give and the world can’t take away. It’s standing up against what’s popular, for what’s right. It’s standing firm in your faith even in the midst of the fire and knowing that there’s someone who will walk you out of the fire, not even smelling like smoke.
It is possible that the disciple was not asking permission to go to his father’s funeral, but rather to put off following Jesus until his elderly father died. Perhaps he was the firstborn son and wanted to be sure to claim his inheritance. Perhaps he didn’t want to face his father’s wrath if he left the family business to follow an itinerant preacher. Whether his concern was financial security, family approval, or something else, he did not want to commit himself to Jesus just yet. Jesus, however, would not accept his excuse. Jesus was always very direct with those wanted to follow him. He made sure they counted the cost and set aside any “conditions” they might have for following him. As God’s Son, Jesus did not hesitate to demand loyalty. Even family loyalty was not to take priority over the demands of obedience. His direct challenge forces us to ask ourselves about our own priorities in following him. The decision to follow Jesus should not be put off, even though other loyalties compete for our attention. Nothing should be placed above a total commitment to living for Him.
How about you today? God wants us to enjoy the family and beauty of this earth he has provided, but He also wants to be first place in our hearts. Have you put him first? Or is he merely an afterthought….
**Some commentary taken from the Life Application study bible