57 As they were going on their way, a man said to Jesus, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes. Birds of the sky have nests. The Son of Man has no place to put His head.” 59 He said to another, “Follow Me.” But the man said, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the people who are dead bury their own dead. You go and preach about the holy nation of God.” 61 And another one said, “Lord, I will follow You, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “Anyone who puts his hand on a plow and looks back at the things behind is of no use in the holy nation of God.”
As Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, two men volunteered to follow Him on His journey. Another man, whom Jesus invited, agreed to go, but quickly replied that he had family obligations to fulfill first. Was the man’s father already dead? Was he terminally ill & needed a caregiver? Was this man an only child or his parent’s only son? Did he feel pressured to provide, prepare and protect his mother and siblings upon his father’s death? I don’t know. Whatever the circumstances, his heart was torn between obeying Jesus by following Him immediately and going home, first.
Jesus’ rebuke may seem harsh. The truth, however, was that the man delayed obeying the Savior of the World, which revealed a heart of disobedience. Our Father requires a “yes” or “no” and immediate action. There are no “but’s” in the Kingdom of God.
The Lord also revealed that the man’s family was “spiritual dead,” so the task of burying the patriarch or caring for the family was not the sons responsibility in that moment. Instead, the man was called by God to preach. By becoming Jesus’ disciple, he would learn who the Father was by having an intimate relationship with the Son and he would be equipped to tell others about the Kingdom of God. But all of that was contingent on what the man chose to do immediately after the call. Would Jesus be first, or his family?
When the Lord said, “Come….” 16 years ago, I also responded, “I will follow you, but…..I want to do this, this and this, first.” In the years since, He’s continued to ask me the same question, and he’s continued to rebuke me when I have given the excuse of fulfilling my responsibilities, first. Now let me be perfectly clear: God has called me to be a wife, mom & homeschol teacher, BUT my roles should never, ever, ever take precedence over the One whom I am following. When Jesus says “come, follow me” it’s a command and a question in one: are we willing to leave home- leave those who are precious to us, and go with Him to the ends of the earth? If the answer is “yes….but” we will never be fully prepared to go make disciples because our hearts will be divided between our family and the One whom commands us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, first.
25 Many people were traveling with Jesus. He said to them, 26 “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! 27 Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.