ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

WOULD-BE FOLLOWERS

In Luke 9:57-62 we read of three people faced with the challenge to follow Jesus. These people expressed a willingness to follow him, but Jesus challenged these people to think beyond their spontaneous willingness to some of the deeper implications involved in following him.

[We must be careful here not to misread 'follow' as 'be a full-time missionary'. That is not the challenge of these verses. Rather the challenge is 'Am I going to align myself with Jesus and with his values and his agenda, or am I not? Do I realize that if I choose to follow Jesus my first priority, that which I value most, must always be him and his kingdom?']

One man said: 'I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus' reply was blunt and off-putting: 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'

It is as if Jesus said: 'Listen, mate, following me can mean hardship, following me can mean rejection - do you realize what you are saying? Are you quite sure you want to follow me?'

Here the challenge is: is Jesus and his kingdom more important than our personal comfort? Are we willing to follow him, even if it means poverty? even if it means ostracism?

He commanded another to follow him. But the man said: 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' In other words, let me wait till after my father grows old and dies, then I'll follow you.' Jesus responded: 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.'

Here the challenge is: will we align ourselves with Jesus and his kingdom now, at this very moment when he calls and commands us, not at some future date, which we determine, when we anticipate it will be more convenient for us and our family?

When another person said: 'I will follow you Lord, but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family', Jesus said: 'No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'

The challenge: is our decision to follow Jesus wholehearted and for the long haul?

Jesus demands a commitment to himself that supercedes all other commitments. Because he is who he is, he, of necessity, must hold first place in our priorities. Once we realize that Jesus is God, we know that it can be no other way: if we do not give him first place in our lives, then it is obvious that we are not acknowledging him as our God, our Lord.

We are not confronted here with a man demanding our allegiance, such as a political tyrant, or even a sports coach, might demand. We are confronted here by the Lord Almighty, the Creator, by whose hand we exist, and by whose word we are sustained.

The significance of the command, and the significance of our response, are not derived from the command or from the response. Both take their significance from the One who gives the command.

Jesus, the Lord God Almighty, stands before us and says: Follow me! Follow me with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

To deny him this, is to deny him.

Scriptures: Luke 9:57-62; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2-3; Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:30.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004, 2008.