READ: Luke 9:57-62
Text- And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
To sum up these 7 verses (with His meeting with three different men) in 7 words: This is the cost of following Christ. These passages that we have read is not a parable. This is a true event recorded by Dr Luke.
I have three points this morning. Each point corresponds to how Jesus dealt with each of these three men. But before going through my points, I will first have to be talking about the second man in v59 because Jesus words to this man gave me some dilemma more than the other two when I was only a new Christian. I struggled with this for a long time. And maybe even when we were reading this, you probably would have said within yourself, “What in the world! Let the dead bury their dead?”
But folks, meeting people would always give you different experiences. One that I’ve noticed in my own dealing with people introducing them to Christ is that there will always be things people do or wants to do before they want to commit themselves to the Lord. Some are just too attached to the fashion and perks of this world that following Jesus is scary for them. They don’t want to leave or abandon the ways and things they love in the world.
Some love their night outing, womanising, smoking, drinking, lying, etc. that it would be impossible for them to follow Christ. No wonder the Bible says in Luke 13:5, Except ye repent ye shall likewise perish. No one will follow Christ except they are prepared to repent. Repentance is not crying about how bad you are. It’s about change. It’s about turning away from what is abhorrent to God to what is pleasing to God.
Almost instantly they could see that loving the world and loving God is not compatible. So here, Jesus did not beat around the bush. Straight He told him the utmost important thing in life to open his eyes.
Jesus said in v59, “Follow me.” And when this man replied: “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father,” With this answer, it could be that his father was old and expected to die anytime. Perhaps he may have wanted to fulfil his duties as the eldest son, to take in charge, and to be near his father in order to obtain an inheritance. I also heard that there is a Jewish tradition; don’t know how true, of reburying the bones after it has been buried for a year into a wall. It could be that.
But Jesus’ answer was somewhat provoking to the human mind. And certainly it was to wake him up to reality and what is important. In whatever case, Jesus’ bluntness drives the point that placing tradition or any personal desires ahead of serving Jesus is not acceptable and it is never pleasing to God.
Here’s how Jesus answered him in v60, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God” because there is nothing more important than following God and serving Him, accept it or not. And when we follow Him, you will be promoting the kingdom of God as He did. May it be through our testimony as light and salt to the world, thru evangelisation, thru the mission work of His church! It is important because preaching the kingdom of God will save many from perishing in hell.
“Let the dead”! But who is Jesus is referring to as being the ones to bury their own dead? The word dead is used in this passage in two different senses. It is apparently a paradox. And Jesus uses them very effectively. The word dead could be used to express indifference toward a thing. Many of you had an analogue TV set. They were still working but those that were promoting digital TVs would call those analogues once as dead.
Dead is also used to express something that has no influence over us. Like what it says in Rom 7:4 -to be dead to the law, and Rom 6:11 – to be dead unto sin. These verses mean that the law and sin have no influence or control over us. We are free from them but many would act as though they are still in bondage. The dead here Jesus is talking about are people who are dead to what Christ was all about. They cannot see His beauty. They cannot even hear His voice. They do not desire to follow Him. Dead!
John 10:27 says, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: Only His “sheep”, alive in Christ will follow and do what He says. The people of the world are those Jesus described here as the spiritually dead who should bury the physically dead. I can surmise what Jesus is saying, “Let the people who are not interested in My work, and who are “dead in sin” take care of those dead things. Your duty is now to follow Me.”
God is interested in putting first what really matters. Like for instance Ephesians 6:2, which is from the fifth Decalogue; Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother. This absolutely important to God but there is more important to that. We need to accept that Jesus must come first. He must be above all. This would have been the case in this instance, when Jesus says follow me, Let the dead bury their dead.
His call for this man was more important than his earthly considerations. It was a call of sacrifice that Christ chose- to see the sincerity of those who would follow Him. And for people who yet needed to be saved, nothing is more important than responding to the gospel.
Jesus requires that the gospel be preached. Romans 10:14 -How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And once they make the decision to follow Jesus, worldly pursuits and pleasures must be dead things as far as your love for the Lord and His work is concern.
Jesus wants followers, not professors or followers in words only. God intends that those who are spiritually alive will be instruments in the Lord’s hands to call others to new life in Christ. But two of these 3 different men that Jesus met as He travelled along with His disciples declared that they would follow Jesus to become His disciples. But this one that I have already started to talk about, it was Jesus who said follow me.
Let me talk about these three different men. We all understand that anyone with a cause would be busy recruiting members or supporters for that cause. Jesus had a cause. Each time he preaches disciples are added to His cause. Even I as Pastor, my desire is to see God’s people grow in the Lord but along with it I also want to see us grow in number. The saving of souls is a great cause.
But what is striking is the way in which Jesus handled these possible followers. Jesus seems to be radical in His approach. He seems to DISSUADE them from following after Him – or at least that’s how I see it. His words were more discouraging than welcoming.
One day, I was fellowshipping with Pastors. We were talking about problems in our churches, and an old pastor said, “endeavour to keep your church as SMALL as you can!” I thought that was strange, isn’t it? Coming from a man who is a pastor to a large congregation.
But he explained, preach the truth of God’s salvation, and the demands of following Jesus, SO CLEARLY, so that ONLY those who have counted the cost are ready to give up ALL for Christ will join. Do not lure them talking about blessings because God’s blessing is a given to those who counts the cost. He said, it’s my desire to see as many as possible come to Christ and I pray that many will come. BUT I CERTAINLY DON‘T JUST WANT TO GET A CROWD. I want to see men and women, young people, boys and girls turning to Christ with their whole hearts; becoming TRUELY sold out disciples for Jesus.
That’s exactly what I see how Jesus dealt with those who expressed a desire to follow Him. Very interesting. He seems to discourage them. But not really! In actual fact- Jesus desires that people WILL follow Him – but He wants them to think it through first, counting the cost.
If you want to follow Him then be faithful. Be diligent. Glorify Him. Ephesians 3:21- Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Why in the church? Because the Church is His Body! This is His face. I understand that there is huge responsibility that comes in being a member of His Body. I know that to some people it’s not easy to be coming to church and on time.
And Jesus is looking for disciples, you and I, to follow Him with a never-turn-back attitude. Jesus words were clear, shocking perhaps, but He is longing for followers to count the cost. The cost is the cost . . . it’s non-negotiable . . .and disciples MUST be prepared for it. So, let me give this morning “THE COST OF FOLLOWING Jesus.”
COST #1. THERE IS NO EARTHLY SECURITY FOR FOLLOWING JESUS. We read of the first man in vs57-58 – And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. It’s quite a bold statement this first person made. “Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”
How can he say those words when he doesn’t have any idea where Jesus may be going… and what is involved in His journey? We don’t do that, do we? We first need a information before committing to anything, don’t we? If you’re still willing to follow despite perceivable difficulties, well and good! But is just natural to count the cost first. Jesus told him that to follow Him “WHEREVER He’s going” will not be an easy road.
He’s not one of those “prosperity gospel preachers of today” who jets from cities to cities, stay in the 5star hotels, and collects huge offerings from the crowds that come to hear them. No sir. Jesus way was by “FAITH” alone! When Jesus stepped out of His throne in glory to come to earth and live and die for us, He left behind all that He had. He exchanged wealth for poverty – from a place with streets of gold to looking for an inn to be born and ended up in a cattle shed. He exchanged rulership for servanthood.
He says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” What an irony . . . the King of glory –the heir-apparent to the Throne of God – does not even have a place to call “home”? He had NO earthly security. He had no permanent dwelling. He borrowed a coin to tell a story. He fulfilled prophecy when he borrowed a donkey to ride into Jerusalem. Why? He was even buried in a borrowed tomb! Why? HE had NOTHING here on earth.
But He gave His all to save a sinner. What would you do for the lost? I ask because I understand that those who follow Him must be prepared for the same road. NO EARTHLY SECURITY. I did not say we have “NO SECURITY”. Yes, we have! We are secure for heavenly riches for eternity. Earthly security is nothing in comparison. You might not have the security of possessions, or money, or homes, or such things. But you have the security of God’s faithfulness, of His care and His provision.
A child of God is more secure than the richest and most powerful in this world. Yes, the follower of Jesus has NO EARTHLY SECURITY. If you’re going to follow Jesus – and walk His road – it may well cost you everything! So COUNT THE COST! But remember the words of Jesus, repeated… He said: “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Then we read of a second man in vs59-60. And from Jesus’ conversation with this one we learn that:
2. THERE IS NO EARTHLY TIES MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOLLOWING JESUS. vs59-60 -And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. Folks, I took time on this point ahead before because the point Jesus makes here is so important. If you are going to follow Jesus, nothing should be above that. Not even your parents or family members! He even said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” That’s the kind of devotion that Jesus is calling for!
He’s not calling for us to dishonour parents, or shirk our responsibility to our families, BUT IF WE ARE PRESSED INTO A CHOICE BETWEEN THE TWO, Jesus MUST COME FIRST! And indeed, some have had to lose family to follow Christ. Friends, earthly ties will ultimately finish but our relationship with Christ is forever. I have met a lot of people in my 11years as Pastor. It was easy for them to profess and say they believe in Jesus Christ.
They would come. They would fellowship but when it comes to commitment that would involve responsibilities in His Body, that’s the end of the road. You won’t see them in church anymore. This is the reason why some would prefer to be church hoppers because that way they are free from responsibilities. That’s not what Jesus envisioned His church to be. When you get home, please read 1 Cor. 12 about church.
Folks, I pray that we won’t lose anyone here after this message. If God is calling you to follow Him – to commit your life to Christ, or to take up ministry for Him, or whatever it may be, HIS CALL MUST COME FIRST! No excuse allowed to hinder you, not even earthly relationships, because to be a follower of Jesus earthly ties only comes second. Then finally, we come to the third man in vs61-62. And from Jesus’ conversation with this one we learn that:
3. THERE IS NO EARTHLY DISTRACTIONS ALLOWED IN FOLLOWING JESUS. vs61-62 – And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Look at these verses; this looks like a reasonable request, isn’t it? What Jesus did is like denying a soldier going to war one last chance to bid his family farewell. But again, Jesus clearly spells out the cost of following Him. “Sir, You’ve picked up the plough! You’ve already declared you are ready to follow me, then don’t look back. If you put it down now because of your desire to see first your family back home, you’re not fit for the Kingdom of God!”
ILLUS: I have seen some people here in the past. When asked if they are ready to believe in Jesus, they had no problem doing that but when asked if they want to be baptised to identify with Christ, they’d say- let me go and asked my parents first. Jesus says, you’re not fit for the kingdom of God. When Peter, James and John followed Jesus, they literally “DROPPED” everything. They dropped their fishing nets to go after and follow Jesus.
There must be no going back if you’re a true follower of Jesus. And I know you would not turn back if you first count the cost. Do you know what the words people, who count the cost, would say in the end? –“It was worth it all!”
Here’s another way Jesus put it in Luke 14:28-30: “which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
The true follower of Jesus allows NO EARTHLY DISTRACTIONS. We don’t look back for anything or anyone. Jesus’ words are strong, aren’t they? You might say, there’s not a show of kindness in His word! Kindness to Jesus is the end result of His words that you would benefit. If the end result brought you good, it is because He is kind.
In summary, it must cost us everything to truly follow Jesus because it cost Him His life to secure you and me eternity in heaven. He calls for us to commit ourselves completely to Him, and hold nothing back. And THAT is the picture of the authentic Christian.
The follower of Jesus has NO EARTHLY SECURITY; NO EARTHLY TIES; and NO EARTHLY DISTRACTIONS.
What is Jesus saying to you this morning? Well, you’ve heard the COST of following Jesus. And so, you might ask: that’s too much! Who then would ever consider following Him? Well, I cannot really that answer for you, except to ask you another question:
Have you ever considered the cost of NOT following Him? - Have you ever considered the cost of perishing in Hell, while He offers ETERNAL LIFE for you? - Have you ever considered the cost of NO SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE IN THIS LIFE if you didn’t have Jesus? - Have you ever considered the cost of HAVING NO OPPORTUNITY TO GLORIFY GOD if you won’t follow Jesus?
Do you realise now that it is more costly NOT to follow Jesus? I will leave it to you to honestly answer them. Let’s pray…