As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
This passage concerns humans’ false security and ambition. Jesus tells us that our commitment to follow him comes at a cost which must be followed exactly at whatever price. He warns us that committing ourselves to follow him is at the expense of our personal comfort.
Our commitment to God should not be distracted, whether by lifestyle or family engagement. The desire to follow Jesus is commendable but comes at great cost – we are told to take up our crosses after all.
In verse 57, the disciple rightly desired to follow Jesus. However, Jesus makes it clear that to follow Him we should never prioritise our possessions and comfort. This is so far removed from our lives today, where most of us do the opposite, working to acquire a comfortable lifestyle. Following Him is at the cost of our personal security as we lay aside our belongings and possessions to put the Lord our God first with all our mind, heart and soul.
Jesus reinforces that following him means putting aside everything we cherish. The young man needing to bury his father was actually waiting for the security of his inheritance before he would follow Jesus. Today, people similarly declare they will follow the Lord when schooling is finished or when retirement arrives or mortgage is paid. The excuses are endless and demonstrate how greedy and lacking in faith we are. Let us not be like this man who was trusting in his inheritance for security rather than in Christ, nor like the man needing to say goodbye to his family. Jesus clarifies that love for Him takes priority without condition. Indeed, this reflects the greatest commandments, to Love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart and soul and then to love your neighbour as yourself. Through this the whole world would know that we are His disciples, fit to enter the kingdom of God.
Heavenly Father, we pray that Your discerning spirit will enable us to know that You are our God above all else, and that nothing on earth should impede our ability to love and follow You. Amen!
Mathias Tchatchoua, Elder and Lay Leader, Stow Park Church URC/PCW Newport.