As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”
And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
And He said to another, “Follow Me.”
But he said, “Lord, permit me first go and bury my father.”
But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”
But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62, NASB)
The heading in my Bible for this passage says The Cost of Discipleship. There are some decision points when the believer hears the call to follow Jesus. We do not know who stayed with the Christ at this point of His ministry and who turned back. We know by looking at the text following the verses above, seventy disciples are sent out soon. These choices seem hard to me. How can somebody respond to these demands that a disciple is to face? I believe it has to do with Christian character being developed in a disciple and starts with the Beatitudes, and the Beatitudes begin with becoming poor in spirit. Let us consider the cost together from this passage of Scripture.
I will follow You wherever You go. This aspiring disciple was already traveling with Jesus for some time as indicated in this passage. He must have been somewhat familiar with Jesus (inferring he knew Jesus is the Christ) and what it meant to follow Him. The man pledges his intention of following Jesus wherever He goes – this is the pledge of discipleship. We learn discipleship is following Jesus wherever He may lead us.
The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Jesus responds to the intention of discipleship by reaffirming discipleship is hard, and that discipleship may take you places that are not secure (as in having a place to call your own) or even mapped out for you so you know where you are going. Rather discipleship is walking truly in faith and trusting on the leading of the Holy Spirit. We learn discipleship is a walk of faith and the security of the disciple is in Jesus alone.
Follow Me. Jesus calls this man into discipleship. He calls all who listen to His voice into following Him into discipleship. What is to be our response? We should be learning discipleship is a decision born out of hearing the Master’s call.
Lord, permit me first go and bury my father. What is this perspective disciple’s response? He wants a delay in following the Christ (permit me first…). This is an accountability issue within the construct of character. A common problem found among most is how often we would like to put conditions on discipleship. “Lord let me first accomplish my agenda before I follow yours” is what we are saying. The call of discipleship requires laying down your plans and following Him. It is hard and costly, and required.
Allow the dead bury their own dead; but as for you go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God. Another condition, this time an apparently Biblical reason for not coming now is given. There was no welfare system set up in the Nation of Israel for the aging population as we have grown accustomed to in the Western world. Each family was to take care of its own. We are to take care of our parents when they get old, but even this may a requirement in order to follow the call of discipleship. How will we know? Listen to the call. We should only do what we are commissioned to do by our Rabbi Jesus. And I will suggest once again that if we develop the Christian character of being poor in spirit we can hear clearly the commission. Being poor in spirit is a continual process in us, moment to moment, like a potter constantly working the clay, over and over.
I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home. Once again the perspective disciple wants to impose his own condition on discipleship. But Jesus sees this request as something that hinders discipleship. When we answer the call we give up all our rights and desires and replace them with the much better will of God. The will of God is now our agenda and our heart. As our character changes our view of life changes as we become centered on the Lord and His will for us.
No one, after putting his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. The response of the Christ is that the perspective disciple is not focusing totally upon Him as he is looking back to his family. When you plow, you need to be looking straight ahead with your eye on the ground before you, or you are going to have problems. In the same way being a disciple of Jesus requires focus and keeping our eyes upon Him at ALL times. What distracts us from Him is an area of our life that needs continual scrutiny on our part. The Holy Spirit will guide us through each moment of choice, good or bad. Of course, the wrong choice makes it more difficult for us to be complete, mature. We will continually be guided back to a point where a choice made a while back was not the right one and we now have yet another choice for that time within the new moment.
Count the cost today and stay on the road to discipleship.