In the course of Jesus' ministry, certain people chose to follow Him without condition. Others wanted to join Him, but with certain conditions. Jesus took issue with their excuses.
The Hasty Follower
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "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." - Luke 9:57, 58
It appears to me that this disciple was more interested in the attention Jesus was receiving and wanted to get in on the action. He didn't seem nearly as interested in what it meant to surrender to Jesus and take up His mission.
We can often get excited about what God is up to and not prayerfully consider what we could be committing to. We are more focused on the outcome than we are on the input. We avoid counting the cost. Jesus warns this disciple (and us) to truly consider what it meant to be his follower.
The Hesitant Follower
He said to another man, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." - Like 9:59, 60
This disciple told Jesus that he wanted to follow him, but he needed to wait for his father to pass away. That sounds like a respectable request. Maybe he was taking care of him. Jesus saw it differently. With insight, Jesus undressed this disciple's resistance and told him that he needed to change his priorities. Ouch.
We live in a day and age where we have so much going on in our lives that it's hard to determine what is most important. God doesn't see our lives compartmentalized as we do. He sees it as all one thing. There is no sacred/secular divide. Either we are all-in with Jesus or we are not. Following Him takes serious commitment. But it also leads to an adventure that has no equal.
There will always be something that will seem more important. It could even be honorable and make complete sense. We have to remember that Jesus knows things we don't. When He calls, the timing will be perfect, even when it seems other things need more immediate attention.
The Homesick Follower
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:61, 62
It appears this disciple wanted some closure or to hold on to what was comfortable. Jesus knew if this guy went back to his family and friends, they might try to persuade him from embracing his new life in Christ. Maybe he was new in the faith. Maybe he wasn't grounded enough to not let others influence his decisions. For whatever reason, Jesus saw through his excuse.
To be fair, I think we all are guilty at one time or another of dragging our past into our future. Even though we desire something new and exciting, we want to hold onto people and preferences that inhibit us from moving forward. Unfortunately, trying to carry this baggage into something completely new can screw up what Jesus is desiring to do in us and through us.
Imagine trying to drive your car while looking in the rearview mirror the entire time. You will inevitably veer off course and crash. Jesus knew the same thing would happen for this homesick follower if he continued to look backward.
So there you have it: Three followers of Jesus who liked the idea of following Him, but chose not to follow through.
Do any of those hidden motives resonate with you? Maybe like me, you wrestle with all three in some way or another.
Why not be honest with Jesus and ask Him to show you where you are hasty, hesitant, or homesick? Whatever adventure He is calling you to join, be prepared to:
1.) Count the cost.
2.) Jump in, and
3.) Don't look back.