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.