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.”
In these verses, Jesus sounds a little schizo to me. But I believe He’s making two very important points—points based on the premise that following Him can be costly.
At this time in His ministry, Jesus is very popular. He’s being followed by huge crowds wherever He goes. They listen to His messages and then they crowd around Him to be healed of all their diseases and delivered from all of their demons.
What’s not to love!
So the teacher of the law in this passage was witnessing Jesus’s extreme popularity.
What Jesus wanted the teacher of the law to know was that he was not seeing the whole picture.
A lot of people want to jump on a bandwagon when it’s being carried high by waves of popularity. And to be part of the inner circle of that kind of phenomenon could add a lot to your self-esteem—not to mention your resume.
But Jesus knew that when the crowds went home each night, He didn’t have a home to go to.
He wanted the teacher of the law to make his decision based on full disclosure of all the facts.
Then there’s the other disciple who wants to go back and bury his father before he follows Jesus.
At first glance this seems like a legitimate request. But he’s probably not talking about returning home for a few days to complete the funeral and burial process. This disciple is probably saying his father is elderly and he needs to go back home and take care of him until his death.
What I believe Jesus is talking about in this instance is the fact that there will be relationships we will have to adjust in order to follow Him as closely as He’s calling us to.
I do NOT believe Jesus is saying we need to dishonor any of our family members or divorce a spouse or shirk our duty to our young children or aging parents in order to be His disciple. That would totally go against what is taught throughout scripture.
But I do believe that our relationship with Jesus and our pursuit of His calling on our life supercedes ALL earthly relationships. And there will be times when our obedience of His directives and His priorities for our life will not be understood or appreciated by some of our closest friends or family.
That is another part of the cost of following Him.
So before we jump on the bandwagon during a popular ‘Jesus season’ or before we find an excuse to back off of our commitment to Him, let’s look again at the cost of following Jesus . . . and the rewards.
Because whatever earthly possessions or relationships we may forfeit by following Jesus—those are going to pale in comparison to everything we gain.