I am temped often, probably too often, to lighten the blow of the call to follow Jesus. He is not a man calling followers to a Carnival cruise; He is a recruiter enlisting people in the army. The words He spoke at the conclusion of this chapter pressed me to think about the challenges of Jesus’ call to follow Him.
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.” 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” (57-62)
No place to lay His head... The call of Jesus doesn’t mean luxury or even necessarily stability in this life. It could mean a life of movement and even wandering. It could mean giving up of all normal creature comforts in ordered to be faithful. If we are going to follow Jesus we, too, may not have a place to lay our heads. I don’t normally think of this as a possibility of discipleship... but there it is.
The call of discipleship could cause us to miss some of those important life moments. Particularly in eras past, missionaries left families behind to go and serve Jesus on the frontiers. There was a time when they shipped their belongings to their new land of service in a coffin knowing that death was the only way they would make it back home.
The call of Jesus asks us to not look back on the life we could have had. We are forward looking people... looking forward to serving Jesus and His kingdom.
None of these make me feel particularly comfortable as I contemplate them.
Part of me wonders, why I have had it so easy? Am I truly faithful? How come I haven’t had to pay these costs? This last question makes me wonder if I have avoided some of Jesus’ calls because they are too costly. In other words, have I played it safe with my faith, wanting the ‘good things of this life’ even as I profess to follow Jesus?
I can be harsh toward myself in quiet moments?
I also wonder maybe Jesus knows I couldn’t handle these and He is just being kind to me. If so, it could only be grace...
Lord, speak to me as I ponder these hard questions. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.