Jesus Teaches Tough Lessons

As they were walking toward Jerusalem, there were a number of conversations between Jesus and those with His party. Luke has recorded for us several brief exchanges in which Jesus tells people about the high cost of being His follower. No, He wasn’t asking for money, far from it in fact; He was revealing the earthly, social cost of becoming His follower. Let’s take a look:

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.” (9:57-58)

Following Jesus wherever He goes doesn’t involve an expense account. He had no earthly possessions beyond the shirt on His back and being His follower will not result in earthly riches, but it might involve earthly deprivations.

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.” (9:59-60)

Social custom in those days required that a son honor his father by seeing to it that the father received a proper burial, but Jesus is telling this man that His call supersedes social custom and familial obligation, a tough lesson for certain. What do you suppose this man did? What would you have done? Yep, this is a really tough one; I’m not sure what I would have done here… Maybe the guy preached the Kingdom at the funeral…

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.” (9:61-62)

Here we go again! You can’t even go and say “goodbye” first?

Luke doesn’t elaborate on these snippets, so I suppose they are open to interpretation, and I am quite confident that most of us today would prefer to understand these in a more liberal way than people might have in past centuries. For example, we might say that this last one meant that once the man said “goodbye” that was it, don’t look back after that. Maybe Jesus was using hyperbole whan He said He had no place to lay His head, so it’s OK to have a bunch of stuff, but don’t get carried away…

However you might prefer to view these, one thing is abundantly clear: There is a cost in this life to following Jesus.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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10 Responses to Jesus Teaches Tough Lessons

  1. I am always learning. A few weeks ago, someone pointed out that the man’s father hadn’t died yet. Jews buried their dead the same day they died. Jesus was demanding. He knew it would take a strong heart to fight Satan the rest of one’s life.

  2. paulfg says:

    “Cost” always seems to have negative giving: “There is a cost – I am in deficit – “poor me”!”

    Breathing has a cost. Each of my heartbeats has a cost. Kissing (I read years ago) shortens my life every time I snog. So if simple living comes with a “cost” – why the big deal about something so much better than snogging?

  3. BelleUnruh says:

    The last two verses are ones I have also wondered about. I read once the man who wanted to bury his father meant he wanted to live with his father until he died and then join Jesus.

    The one who asked to go say goodbye to his family perhaps had to travel a ways to do that. Jesus knew he wouldn’t be around that long and it was vital for the man to stay with him.

    I often wish the writers of the Bible had put in more details.

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