In the book and movie, “Alice in Wonderland”, Alice finds herself at a fork in the road. As she contemplates her decision, she notices that the Cheshire cat is up in the tree. Undecided, Alice asked the cat, “Which road do I take?” The cat responds, “Where do you want to go?” Alice answers, “I don’t know.” Then the Cheshire cat calmly states, “Then, it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
That’s a good question for us to ponder. “Where do you want to go?” Do you really want to follow Jesus? Have you considered the cost?
Salvation hinges on the answer to one question: Have you personally received Jesus Christ as your Savior (John 1:12) by trusting only in His finished blood atonement for your sins (Acts 16:13 cf. Rom. 10:9–10)? Following Jesus (discipleship), however, is an entirely different matter. Discipleship is actively following the Lord Jesus Christ in your daily walk as a believer.
In Luke 9:57–62, we discover three people wanted to follow Jesus. They wanted to be His companion in His journey to Jerusalem. However, they were not willing to count the cost of following Jesus. Jesus did not pick up every person who wanted to follow Him. In fact, Jesus presents three tests of to see if people are really ready to follow Him.
“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. 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.” Luke 9:57-58).
Jesus was saying that if you walk with him, you will sense that the world is not your home. There will be discomfort, unease, and hardship, even rejection. He was saying that to follow Him, one must embrace a life of hardship. No one who commits to following Christ, and does so, lives a life of ease. No one. If your Christianity has not brought discomfort to your life, something is wrong.
“And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60).
Jesus’ response appears callous. But we need to realize that the man did not say this father was dead, but only “let me first go and bury my father’. If his father had indeed died, the man would not have been on the road with Jesus, but at home tending to the details and the service. More probable is that the father was nearing death due to being elderly or terminal illness. He wanted to delay following Jesus until his father died. The request revealed that he had no concept of the urgency and the importance of the task to which Jesus was calling him.
Jesus’ reply placed these two duties side by side – waiting to bury your father or working for the kingdom. The man had to choose: pursue temporary concerns or proclaim the kingdom of God. The choice was between temporary existence and everlasting life.
“And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62).
This is the second time a would-be disciple used the word ‘first’ not in reference to Jesus. This man wanted to ‘first’ say goodbye to his family. Jesus responded to this disciples’ qualifying use of ‘first.’ Jesus must always come ‘first’, above all human loyalties. Focus must be on the future, not the past. There are some whose hearts are always in the past.
The first person was unwilling to let go his comfort. What comfort or possession are you unwilling to release to follow Christ?
The second person had other priorities which he considered more urgent than following Christ. What priorities have you placed before your obedience to Christ?
The third person gave more importance to his family than Jesus. Is your family standing in the way of you and being fully committed to follow Jesus?
Let us whole-heartedly follow Jesus and not let the things of this world get in the way. We are so easily distracted by the things of this life, our material desires and our physical comforts, that we fail in our commitment to our Lord.
William Borden was the heir of a wealthy Chicago family. In 1904 and 1905, at he age of 18, he traveled around the world. This was followed by a brilliant education at Yale and then Princeton Seminary, where he committed his life to seek to win the Muslims in China to Christ. Before he left, Borden gave away some $500,000 (equivalent to $10 minion in the 1990s) and served at the age of 23 as a trustee of Moody Bible Institute. In 1913 in his 26th year, he left for Egypt and never looked back. It was the final year of his life, because in Cairo he contracted cerebral meningitis. As he lay dying, he scribbles this note: “No reserve, no retreat, no regrets.” That is the kind of attitude Christ was calling for in Luke 9.