Following Jesus…

…comes with a cost.

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, 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.”

Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 8:18-22

In the last post, I mentioned what we discovered about Peter, and what it apparently cost him to drop his fishing nets and follow Jesus; in these verses, we see the cost again in two brief examples. The first of these is the teacher of the law who declared his intention to follow Jesus where ever He might go. Jesus’ reaction to this declaration is interesting, don’t you think?

He might have said, “Great friend, we’re delighted to have you along on the journey,” but His reaction was quite different. No, the Son of Man had no home, for He had given all of that up to do His Father’s will; fair warning for the teacher of the law. Right at the moment, I cannot recall that any of the Twelve were this teacher of the law, can you?

The second example is a tough one, for here we have a “disciple” requesting leave to “bury my father” before heading off across the lake. There is nothing in the text  to indicate a bad motive, neither is there anything that would tell us that this disciple (whoever he was) is seeking anything more than to accomplish the sacred duty of a son that the Law required of him. In other words, this was a very reasonable request for him to make. Yet Jesus didn’t say what we might expect, something like, “OK, give my best to your family and meet us at such and such a place day after tomorrow.” Instead, Jesus says, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

This may seem a little harsh, and in a sense, maybe it is, but Jesus is going about the business of His Father, and so are His disciples; there is no “leave of absence” from the calling of God.

His remark about “the dead” burying the dead refers to the recognition that there are many people who are spiritually dead, who are not following God’s call to do His will on earth; they have time on their hands. Notice the strong implication that if we are spiritually alive, we have a calling to serve God. It would seem that there is no such thing as a follower of Christ who does not have a calling, even though some might think otherwise.

So, what is the cost of following Jesus? It is leaving the things of this world behind and really following Him.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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2 Responses to Following Jesus…

  1. paulfg says:

    Just a thought on the “heartless response” – you sent me a-googling! 🙂

    Not just a funeral – but a seven day ritual. Unless …
    “The death of a parent was an exception: children mourned their parents for a full year, until the time of secondary burial.”
    (https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/people/related-articles/burial-practices-in-first-century-palestine)

    Which gives Jesus’ response – in his cultural context – a lot less harshness than we impose from our cultural context.

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