Jesus tells His disciples we are to count the costs of being his disciple so that without delay we put Him first in our lives. Are we following Him without delay, regardless of the costs?
“57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 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.” 59 And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 60 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.” 61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Lk 9:57-62
There are many who feel the prick of truth from Jesus and they desire the comfort of His salvation, but they do not consider the costs, not fully, and so when the cares of this world and the challenges of being a disciple come up in their lives, they begin to wilt and back away. Oh have I seen this more than I care to mention.
The first disciples says, “I will (future) follow you wherever you go”. But Jesus says it’s a hard way. Without counting the costs, at the crucial (this word comes from CRUX/Cross) moment the disciple, if not fully committed, will pack up his belongings and go home. Jesus wants to know if His disciples will follow Him into the fiery baptism He’s about to encounter, Mk 10:39. Will the disciple carry his own cross and follow Jesus or will he at the crucial moment begin to turn back to the world? The disciples answered yes, but they all, like Peter would eventually deny him when their faith was tested, Mt 26:34. A true disciple counts the costs and does not back away when following Him gets hard.
The second disciple says, “I will (Present Imperative, Mt 9:21) follow you Lord; but permit me first to go and bury my father.” This promise by the disciple suggest he’s calculated a delay before he will follow Jesus. His words betray him. He’s essentially saying, “I will right now but only after some delay.” What should be first (proto) in his life becomes second, and whatever should be second in life is still his first. Following Jesus can never be second to anything. Now this is the point where people misunderstand and make up arguments about how we are supposed to honor our parents and wouldn’t it be a sin to be so callous. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what is going on here and Jesus reads the hearts perfectly well. Jesus knows the inner calculations and valuations we are making that puts Him after something of this world. This man does not have in mind to put Jesus first in his life. The delay the man is seeking implies that the “burying” of the father is not immediate, perhaps, because the father is not yet dead. The death is imminent or in the near future, and the dialogue here is shows one more example of people making great promises to Jesus without having a true willingness to make the jump today. You and I know this happens all of the time.
The third disciple says, “I will (future tense) follow you, Lord; but first (proto) permit me to say goodbye to those at home.” Many people are like this individual. Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” Lk 9:62. What is this man doing? He’s looking back. He’s put his hand to the Christian plow but he’s looking back to the fun, the lusts, the worldly pursuits of his past and is longing for them. Like the foolish wife of Lot, they look back to Sodom and Gomorrah and they are not fit for the kingdom of God. See, saying, “goodbye” is not a trespass, but this man is using it as a pretense. He’s truly longing for that life in the past instead of the walk of being a true disciple.
Disciple of Christ, whom I love with my very soul, if you are not fully on board I hope that you will come to your senses and repent. Return to God with the true love. Follow Christ in all that you do. Let Christ rule over your heart. Take command of your family and exemplify the Christian life for your loved ones. Please do this because my heart is burdened for every Christian I see turning back from what he first committed to.
I say this in love, Dan Mayfield