Jesus Is Calling: Follow Me!
O Lord, as I enter into Your presence for worship this day, fill my heart with a love for Your gospel word. Help me to grow in my understanding of it, my commitment to it, and in my desire to proclaim it. Yes, may that message of Your love for me uplift me and encourage me to fulfill my calling in Your kingdom. In Jesus’ saving name I pray. Amen.
Our callings in God’s kingdom are not always easy. Joseph was called upon by God to rescue his family, including the brothers who had sold him into slavery. Until reconciled with them, it was difficult for Joseph to maintain emotional stability.
Herod persecuted the early church, killing James and imprisoning Peter. God, however, sent an angel to deliver Peter and so to preserve His called apostle for the work that lay ahead!
Text: Luke 9:57-62
Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
In Christ Jesus, who calls out to each of us through His gospel and urges us to follow Him with faithfulness, dear fellow redeemed:
I am afraid that I must confess that my house is divided. Of the ten adults now in our family six of them support the Greek Bay Packers, three of them support the Minnesota Vikings, and one of them could not care less about professional football. Yes, we are a divided household each Sunday afternoon during football season! In the end, however, I am not too concerned about the situation, for as Gene Schreyer is fond of saying when he quotes his mother, “If it will not make a difference on Judgment Day, just go to bed!”
Gene’s mother’s words, however, suggest that there are matters that do make a difference—those matters that do affect our eternal salvation. When it comes to Jesus and His kingdom, we cannot afford to be divided…some for, some against, and certainly not anyone who is indifferent! No, our relationship to Jesus and our entrance into His kingdom are of the utmost importance, for Jesus and His kingdom spell the difference between heaven and hell, between salvation and damnation.
Therefore, let us consider Jesus’ conversation with three individuals and recognize when it comes to each of us as well—JESUS IS CALLING: “FOLLOW ME!” We shall see from our text that His call is to be carefully considered! His call is of the highest priority! His call is to be fulfilled with utmost faithfulness!
The conversations recorded within our text took place near the end of the second year of Jesus’ three year ministry. The vast crowds, which had once followed Jesus, followed Him no more. Many people were simply unwilling to accept what they described as Jesus’ “hard sayings” (cf. Jn. 6:60). Opposition from the religious leaders among the Jews was increasing. Before long the warning would go out that anyone openly supporting Jesus would be put out of, that is, excommunicated from the synagogues (cf. Jn. 9:22).
It was in this situation that a certain individual approached Jesus and said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go!” Now, we might expect Jesus to respond positively to such an offer: “That is wonderful! We would be delighted to have you join us!” After all, so many people had as of late left Him. This individual obviously was both willing and enthusiastic! Yet, Jesus did not respond in that way. Rather He said: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Why would Jesus respond is a way that appears to be somewhat deflating? It does not seem to make much sense if you are trying to gain followers!
But Jesus here reveals something very important—His call is to be carefully considered! Being a member of Jesus’ kingdom can and often does involve great difficulties and dangers. Jesus referred to His own situation, in which He, who is the Lord of heaven and earth, was essentially homeless throughout His ministry. Therefore, the call into Jesus’ kingdom ought not be considered lightly or on a mere whim.
Just a little later in His ministry Jesus would tell His disciples: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles” (Mt. 10:16-18). The apostle Paul warns all of us: “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).
This has been and will always be the case for Christians in our sinful world! This is true whether you consider the first century Christians as described in the Book of Acts, or the third century Christians who were thrown to the lions by Roman authorities, or the sixteenth century Christians many of whom along with Martin Luther were persecuted for simply upholding the gospel, or twenty-first century Christians today who are being beheaded in Iraq and at times fined or jailed for upholding their Christian convictions in the west.
Jesus’ call is to be carefully considered! Yet, let us not shy away from both hearing and responding to that call, for entering Jesus’ kingdom by God’s grace through faith is vital for our spiritual and eternal welfare. But let us do so with our eyes open and our minds having counted the costs involved! JESUS IS CALLING: “FOLLOW ME!” His call is to be carefully considered!
Secondly, His call is of the highest priority! The reason for this is as stated before—Jesus and His kingdom spell the difference between heaven and hell, between salvation and damnation for every human soul. The Bible clearly informs us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (cf. Rom. 3:23). That includes you, me, and everyone else. The Bible also clearly states that “the wages of sin is death” (cf. Rom. 6:23a). That also includes you, me, and everyone else! The Bible goes on to say, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). We will face God one day, and we will have to answer for our sins…unless those sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Jn. 1:7). That alone occurs when we confess our sins and are led by the Spirit of God to place our faith in Jesus as both our Savior and Lord (cf. 1 Jn. 1:9). Yes, Jesus’ call is of the highest priority, and it should be noted as Jesus so solemnly says, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters!” (Luke 11:23)
This is why when Jesus said to a second man, “Follow Me”, and the man responded, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father,” that Jesus did not simply let those words pass without a response. No, He stated something that without thinking to our ears may even sound a bit callous: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” Now, let it be immediately said that Jesus is not here directing all of us to refrain from attending the funerals of our parents or our other loved ones. Rather, He was addressing what He knew to be a lack of commitment on the part of this man. A half-hearted disciple is no disciple! A half-hearted disciple may be well-intentioned, but as is often noted…the road to hell is paved with good intentions!
Jesus is here talking about the importance of making our relationship with God and with Him our highest priority. In the same way on another occasion Jesus told those listening to Him, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mt. 10:37-39).
God made us His highest priority already in eternity when He determined to save us by sending His own Son into this world to deal with our sin problem. Jesus took on our flesh and was “tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Consequently, the Bible tells us that He is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (cf. Heb. 4:15). But God’s plan called for more than sympathy. Jesus acted on our behalf, by giving up His life on the cross, so that “through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14-15). Truly, if we were God’s greatest priority leading to the sacrifice of His only-begotten Son in order to secure for us everlasting life, is it not only proper that He become our highest priority here during our earthly lives? As the apostle Paul told the Roman Christians, ”Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Truly, “We (are to) love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). JESUS IS CALLING: “FOLLOW ME!” His call is of the highest priority!
Finally, His call is to be fulfilled with utmost faithfulness! Jesus’ last conversation reveals this simple, but most important fact. A third man came to Jesus and said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” Jesus responded: “No one, having put their hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
I have very little practical experience driving tractors. My farmer father-in-law years ago wisely put a paintbrush in my hand, after I broke one of his tractors on my very first weekend visit to his farm as his daughter’s boyfriend. I understand, however, that when you plow you always look ahead, because if you look back you will not steer the tractor straight and you will end up doing a poor job of plowing.
Jesus’ call to each of us to be His disciple and to enter His kingdom is a joy-filled thing! To know the one, true God—the Creator of heaven and earth; to be able to claim Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, as your Savior, your Brother, and your Lord; to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and thereby to find both comfort and courage in any situation…is truly a joy-filled thing! But that call and entering that kingdom also brings with it great responsibility!
The apostle Paul urges us “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). He goes on to say, “Be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Eph. 5:1-2a). God has claimed us by faith as His children, and as children also as His heirs (cf. Gal. 3:26, 29). He has consequently appointed us to be His ambassadors in this world, carrying with us wherever we go His message of reconciliation—that He was “in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them…. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:19, 21).
Our calling from Jesus is not a “temp” position, or a “part-time” position, or a “I’m going nowhere-I don’t really care” position. No, our calling from Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s eternal and very personal plan for our rescue and our future redemption from this sinful world to Himself in heaven. It is there that God will bestow upon us an eternity of glory and bliss. This calling deserves our unending attention, our absolute devotion, and our utmost faithfulness. To that end Jesus has given us this promise: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life!” (Rev. 2:10b)
My dear friends, JESUS IS CALLING: “FOLLOW ME!” His call is to be carefully considered! His call is of the highest priority! His call is to be fulfilled with utmost faithfulness! May it be so among us! Amen.