What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? I hear people using that term today, and I often wonder if they really know what it means. Jesus said follow me to several people throughout His life on earth. He is speaking those words to all of us today. Let’s look at what these words mean.
Several days after Jesus had spoken to His disciples, He told them that to follow Him, they must deny themselves. In Luke 9:59-62, we see Jesus and a throng of people following Him to Jerusalem. As He proceeds, we see three men coming to Jesus. The first one says, “I will follow You wherever You go.” (Luke 9:57). Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:58) What was Jesus telling this man? We must remember that Jesus lived a life in which all His needs were met. His disciples were not poor. They had a bookkeeper that traveled with them. So, what was Jesus saying? He told this man that following Him would mean no place to call home. He would have nowhere physically to go for security and peace. Jesus reminded him that foxes have holes and birds have nests that they call home. Jesus had never owned a house. He moved freely from one place to another. Jesus’s place of rest and peace was in the presence of His Father. Today, we as believers, find our rest and peace in the same place Jesus found His, in the presence of our heavenly Father.
Jesus confronts the second man. Jesus says to him follow me. The man’s reply was let me first bury my father. We need to understand a few things about Jewish culture at that time. The family would spend the next week in isolation if a father died. The son would not be following Jesus and the crowd. What this man was referring to is a year after the death of a father, the son would go and rebury his father in a tomb dug out of a rock or in a mountain. This man is wanting to wait a long time before he follows. Jesus tells him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” What does that mean to us? We need to decide today to follow Jesus and proclaim the kingdom. The opportune time is now! There are spiritually dead people all around us, and we need to be doing what is most important, proclaiming the kingdom of God to them.
The third man comes to Jesus in verse 61 and says, “I will follow You, Lord; but first, permit me to say goodbye to those at home.” This, again, is a cultural thing. It was considered an insult for a son to leave without first saying goodbye to his family. The interesting part of this is that this man had been following Jesus already. We don’t know how, but he had already left his family. Jesus replied to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” When you plow a field, the thing you don’t want to do is look back because it would mean not plowing a straight line. For us today, this means we cannot focus on our past. We must continue to focus on the future to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus may cost our comfort. It may lead to being considered a disgrace by our families and friends. Will you follow Jesus no matter the cost?