Cost of Following Jesus: Matthew 8:18-22
Matthew 8:18-22 ESV – 18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
The Cost of Following Jesus
The cost of following Jesus entitles this section where two believers approach Jesus to say they will follow him. One apparently as a teacher of the law has position and respect. His position provides comfort and a sense of stability. Recognizing this, Jesus tells him ‘ the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ You must leave behind your comfortable life if you want to follow me.
The next to approach him says he must bury a parent. The parent isn’t dead nor near death, but the person doesn’t want to give up the hope of an inheritance. He wants to remain with them long enough to be considered a dutiful son and receive his inheritance. In both cases they say they want to follow Jesus, but neither is willing to place full trust in Him. Both want the underpinning security of a position or an inheritance. Both are mired in idolatry. In this case idolatry of pleasure and money and not seeking the worship of God.
Cost of Following Jesus: Removing Distraction
The cost of following Jesus requires that I give up anything that distracts me. Or anything that I might tend to trust in more than God. That I worship no other gods: the root of all sin. The cost of following Jesus requires everything, all I have, or all I think I have — all of my trust. In reality what do I have that God did not give me? Did he not make me? Did he not give me all the good things I have and enjoy? If I remember that he gave me my life and I give it back to him, the exchange will be that he will give me a better life and an eternal life when I pass from this life.
He offers freedom from the petty, poisonous, meaningless existence that I hang onto saying ‘mine.’ It is illusion. Give it up for a real life. Pass this test and find out what life is. He will not chase me or demand that I give up my dust worship — the worship of material things. I must give my life willingly and completely.
Cost of Following Jesus Means Stepping Beyond Common Sense or Wisdom of Man
Many religious groups function and stand upon the wisdom of men. As a disciple and follower of Jesus, I must go beyond human wisdom.
1 Corinthians 2:1-16 ESV – 1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
Not in the Wisdom of Men
5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
That we Might Understand the Things Freely Given us by God
9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Cost of Following Jesus More Clear with Early Church
The early church and the early church fathers clearly understood this message. In contrast, pop culture and counterfeit Christianity makes blends of Christ and… acceptable, even desirable; there exists no discussion of the cost of following Jesus: Christ and human rights, Christ and helping the poor, Christ and politics, etc.
Who I am and how I serve should come distinctly and clearly from my relationship with Christ not from a faith blended with humanistic or political goals driven by my own focus on the needs of people. If I am enamored with a blended faith, perhaps I should consider the cost of following Jesus. A blended faith is about me and what I think is right. Jesus tells me to follow him and him only. Then he will give me more power, more wisdom, more discernment, and more strength to serve others in the greatest and best ways possible.
Who Am I? Who would I Rather Be?
I can only understand my Lord and his message if I have come to understand my condition, my true condition. In an age which shuns shame, this can be difficult. For a better understanding, read C.S. Lewis’ Problem of Pain. Briefly, my true self is the one I glimpse when I think the worst of myself, possibly some shame over a secret sin. This is me. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Jesus Christ forgives me and I take on his identity as I accept him as lord and savior. He forgives and makes whole the real me.
The Advantage I have over the Two Men
The picture I am given happened in a moment. My advantage is that I can ask myself this question again and again, day after day. Will I go where Jesus asks? I can pray about it and wait upon God to transform me by the Holy Spirit into a disciple who trusts in no one or no thing except Christ. It takes most disciples – or better, “apprentices of Christ” – a long time to let go, including me, to die daily to things that keep me from fully trusting in Christ.
As I begin to learn to die daily, one of things I will notice being removed by God is fear. Both these men feared losing control, a manifestation of the fear of death. In Christ I can have a new reality of assurance. In Christ, I can experience a more accurate concept of God, freedom from the fear of death, and relationship to drive a life of power rather than mere common sense like these two men.
Questions: all these will require much prayer, some more than others
- Have I considered the cost of following Jesus?
- What is Jesus telling me to leave and turn my back on?
- Are there comforts holding me back in my walk with Christ?
- Do I worship some idol: money (Mammon), pleasure/sex (Aphrodite), violence as a solution (Mars) instead of Christ?
- What do I tend to lean on in times of trouble?
- In what do I base my future hope in?
- If suffering from a blended faith (an attempt to hang on to idols), how can I become a better servant or a more empowered servant? The answer to this question can only be found in prayer. When we suffer from a blended faith, we aren’t likely to see it. We must ask God to reveal to us if we are holding dual allegiances. “Lord, I want to place you first, to have no other kings before me, show me if my trust is diluted, dual, blended, or corrupt.”
- How can my church or religious peer group become a barrier to my walk with Christ? Read Jeremiah 23:16-22. Does the one in the pulpit I listen to and do those in my peer group “stand in the council of the Lord?” Are they men and women of prayer?
- What worldly habits, motivations, practices continue unchallenged by my religious peer group?
- How I and those around me deal with fear and specifically the fear of death can be an indicator of Spiritual maturity. Am I a fearful person? Those around me?
- As Oswald Chambers says, “Are you faithful to Jesus or faithful to your ideas about Him?
Passage for Meditation
Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead. Matthew 8:22b
Father, common sense and the messages around me distract me to pursue safety, security, and the comforts of this world. Examine my life and help me to make you Lord of it. Help me to willingly lay aside anything which impedes my relationship with you. Help me to trust in you and you alone.
How Fasting helps in Purifying Myself of a Blended Faith
Fasting is a focal lens for prayer. A fasting day is good to reflect upon the purity of my faith, removing distractions, and getting my eyes back on Jesus alone.
This page discusses fasting, 2/3 down the page are several posts on prayer: Guide to Prayer and Fasting
The Naaman Complex is common among many American church leaders. Read more about overcoming that here: Naaman Complex
Does my Sunday worship provide a central hub of meaning? Or is it disconnected from how I live and worship daily? Read more about Superficial Worship
What fasting isn’t: The Daniel Fast
Nourishment for overcoming fear and anxiety: Defeating Fear Daily