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.”
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.”
Now we don't know the whole story. We don't know who these men were, if Jesus had just encountered them or if they knew each other, and we don't even know how the stories play out. We just know two or three sentences in each conversation. The stories aren't so much about what happens, but about Jesus' views of discipleship.
With some insight from my friend Tonya who preached tonight, I think Jesus is telling us three things:
- Following Jesus wont meet our presuppositions and assumptions. We may say we're willing to follow Him wherever, but are we truly? Are we even if it means we don't have a permanent place to call our home? Even if it means we are not accepted by others? Discipleship won't follow a manual. It won't be what we assume it will be; much of it will be unexpected.
- Following Jesus will change our priorities. Now we don't know if the second man's father had just died immediately before the scene takes place, or if he wasn't even dead yet, but the burial of one's father was the important duty of a Jewish son. Jesus tells him that it's not his main priority any longer. Now he is to go and proclaim the Kingdom of God. Priorities have shifted.
- Following Jesus is future-oriented. Yes, the past is important, but once we commit, we keep moving forward. We don't look back wondering what our old life would be like. We move forward, knowing the best is yet to come.
And it's not that I wouldn't have made the same decision to follow Jesus if I had known what following Him really meant. I think I would have followed Him better, though. Sometimes I can take too much for granted. Sometimes I get off on my own path, rather than staying on His.
In my teenage years I did a better job of following the crowd than following Jesus. In my twenties I did a better job of following the culture. In my thirties I did a better job of following my own desires. And I'm not saying that I wasn't a follower of Jesus during those times or that my life is a failure, but I didn't follow fully. And in not following fully I was missing out.
So know what you're getting into...but if you're going to get into it--do it with gusto!