The Cost of Following Jesus

Today, the word of God is from Luke 9:57-62.

 

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

 

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

 

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

 

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

 

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

 

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

 

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

 

The title is the cost of following Jesus.

 

When I first read this, I felt heavy in my heart. I always ask in my heart, is there no other way? Does it have to be this way?

 

I heard a preacher say, if you try hard enough, you can understand the Bible anyways you want it to be.

 

Meaning, you can justify your view using the Bible if you try hard enough.

 

That is true and it’s scary. Unless the Holy Spirit is guiding us and protecting us, we too can choose to see the Bible the way my sinful flesh wants to see it.

 

Or just straight out ignore the Bible. That’s the world we live in. People worship money, worship beauty and worship power. It’s everywhere.

 

And it’s not easy to live worshiping God in this world.

 

It’s a greater challenge to live as christian in the world I think than to be a monk and live in the mountain.

 

Christians live in the two worlds at the same time. So there is constant tension.

 

And it’s easy to lose our identity when we live in the two worlds.

 

I know I’m Christian. But living in the world sometimes make me confused.  So that’s why it is important for us to keep coming back to the word of God.

 

In that sense, Luke 9, is very important. It tells us the right way for us to go.

 

9:57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

 

Was there ever a time in your life when you also said “Jesus, I will follow you wherever you go?

 

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

 

The bottomline Jesus is getting at is the matter of possession. He is asking, can you be free from worldly possession?

 

Where is my main focus today?

 

Cecilia sent me this cute video. A little girl was preaching. I think she is five and preaches much better than me. She was saying, we are beggars and Jesus is the rich king. When Jesus meets us, he wants us to throw away the smelly rag we are wearing and our dirty possession in order to enter the palace. We can’t take those to his royal palace.

 

But then, can we really throw away our smelly blanket and let go of all our earthly possession to receive the heavenly clothes and possession from the king? What if I can’t let them go? That’s ridiculous, right? Who would want to hold on to their filthy rags in exchange of heavenly garment? But it’s really true. The truth is, we see many beggars around us who would rather hold on to the filthy rags then to let them go and enter King’s royal palace.

 

So the question is, can we be free from our daily concerns for money and daily bread?

 

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

 

Jesus is not telling us to neglect our daily needs. But there is priority. First, stand firm on God’s truth. After that, do take care of your daily needs.

 

We must not lose our identity as Christian, our faith and love for Christ, due to our daily needs and worries for money.

 

We ought to make plans and work to meet our daily needs. But our daily need must not be our ultimate concern.

 

When our daily bread becomes our ultimate concern, that’s when we need to come back to this word of God.

 

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

 

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

 

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

 

Another man was told by Jesus to follow him. But he asks to bury his father.

 

What Jesus says in v.60 can easily be misunderstood as harsh and uncivilized.

 

But what’s the main thing Jesus is getting at? He wants us to live our life to its fullest extent. And that’s by living beyond our first dimensional relationship of physical family. So that we can build even bigger family, spiritual family in Christ, where God’s Kingdom can expand.

 

To draw greater circle of love in Christ, to proclaim and build God’s Kingdom, it does come with a cost, a sacrifice of leaving the once familiar relationship.

 

As God told Abraham in Gen 12:1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

 

When I think about my life, I think my life would have been very limited, very small world. I could have never made friends as I did by coming to the church. So many brothers and sisters in Christ (although I don’t always get along with them), couldn’t have been possible.

 

So there is tears and there is sacrifice. But through that, God opens up greater world for us and make us become part of even bigger family of faith in Christ.

 

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

 

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

 

This reminds us of the story of Elijah and Elisha. When Elijah called Elisha as his disciple, Elisha asked permission to go back and say goodbye to his family. Elijah gave permission for Elisha to go back.

 

But here, Jesus’s standard is much higher. We, as Jesus’ disciples, are expected to pass much higher standard. And this really comes to us as a challenge, does it not?

 

When our lives get tough, we do think about it, don’t we? There are times when we despair and we want to step back. Or there are times when we are discouraged and we want to give up. Or there are times when we feel like just stopping all and going back to where we came from, or we want to just stay away. At those times, this message comes to us as a living and active word of God inside our hearts.

 

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

 

Yes, this too can sound radical and harsh. But this word of Jesus is the truth and we don’t want to twist it or bend it to fit our own preference. We are weak. However, as we rely on God’s love for us in Chris Jesus and his sacrifice, let that love compel you to follow Jesus as his disciples, whatever the cost may be. May God help us all to receive his word with open heart and obey all the way. Let’s pray.