SECTION 3: THE CREDENTIALS OF JESUS THE KING
THE IMPULSIVE SCRIBE AND RELUCTANT DISCIPLE
THE HUMAN COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS
Scripture To Consider:
“Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, 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 another of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’” Matthew 8.18-22
Something To Consider:
Between the first and second group of miracles, Matthew mentions two incidents which likewise reveal the divine nature of Christ and also indicate the effect His miracles were having on the multitudes. Each instance shows the power of Christ to read the hidden thoughts of the human mind and to penetrate to the motives which lie behind our words and deeds.
More definitely these incidents indicate the growing popularity of Jesus at the outset of His public ministry. They show that men were feeling eager to become His followers, or it reveals they were trying to excuse themselves for refusing to submit to His will. The old saying is indeed true; the more things change, the more they remain the same!
In the first case an impulsive scribe came to Jesus with fervor declaring, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” He had supposed such companionship would be delightful, popular, and easy. Jesus declared that it would mean hardship, self-denial, and a cross, by stating; “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Something Else To Consider:
Nothing further is heard or told of this eager but impulsive scribe. Yes, Jesus wishes followers, but He wants them to count the human cost of following Him. He warns against rashness and a desire for ease and comfort among those who are contemplating enlisting in His service. Counting the human cost of following Jesus should be thoroughly considered according to Jesus.
And yet, another seems ready to follow, but then declares that he must first go and bury his father. Some think it was probably a mere pretense or a poor excuse for delay or refusal. But in reality, this reluctant disciple was declaring, let me return to my life and when my father has passed away maybe I will be more inclined to follow Jesus. In other words, he, and others, find the requirements of following Jesus more restricting and more confining than they are willing to abide by.
There is something of severity in the stern reply of the master, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Nothing should be allowed to keep men, women, and young people of every generation from following Jesus, nothing! No matter how tender the tie or how sacred the duty, that which keeps one from Him keeps Jesus among the dead spiritually speaking and will result ultimately in their eventually being buried among the spiritually dead.
Therefore, counting the human cost of following Jesus or refusing to follow Jesus is an eternally significant decision everyone must make before it is too late. How about us? What decision have we truly made concerning following Jesus? If we were to breathe our last breath today, this week, this year, and remain headstrong in our immediate eternal state, would we regret that decision one second after death. If so, we will regret that foolish decision for all of eternity.
Something More To Consider:
In every generation since the appearance of Jesus onto the earthly scene of humanity, there have been at least three distinct classes or groups of individuals as it pertains to the concept of counting the human cost of following Jesus. As indicated in our Scripture to consider, the first group in biblical sequence only, is portrayed by this unnamed eager and yet impulsive scribe.
In seeing the human benefits of following Jesus, the miracles, the healings, the casting out of demons, and even the forgiving of sins, the first group is much like the seed sown upon the wayside or among the rocks in Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed, which is recorded in three of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
The impulsive scribe-like group receives the seed of the Word of God, in many cases with much joy according to Jesus. And yet, because of a lack of understanding or a willingness to endure to the end, this group is either offended by the difficulties of following Jesus, or deceived by allowing Satan to steal, kill, and to destroy their previous joyful decision. They are in the end proven to have merely been impulsive in their reaction to the message of the gospel.
The second group in biblical sequence is made up of mostly reluctant once called disciples. This ever enlarging and ever excuse creating class of humanity reflect the same tendencies as those represented by the seed sown among the thorns. These reluctant for the most part individuals, according to Jesus, hear the Word, but the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and a human desire to be more worldly minded than heavenly minded, chokes the literal life out of the Word of God planted in their hearts.
At this moment, that one-time follower of Jesus becomes reluctant and unfaithful toward the kingdom of God and the things of God. And at that very moment they too become among the spiritually walking wounded who without the power of Christ in their lives, soon become among the spiritually walking dead of this earth.
A Few Final Words:
The third and final group of truly enduring to the end followers of Jesus who have counted the human cost of following Jesus, are described by Jesus in Matthew 13.23, “But he [or she] who received seed on the good ground is he [or she] who hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
It is not the amount of fruit that is most important, but that we bear fruit in order to honor Christ and safeguard ourselves from being likened to tares and ultimately being cast into the furnace of the fire of hell; where there shall be wailing , much mourning, and the gnashing of teeth forever.
And so how do we ensure ourselves and our loved ones are benefiting from counting the human cost of following Jesus, thereby bearing much fruit, fruit worthy of repentance? Psalm 1 verse 3 describes the end result of a person who delights in the law or in the Word of God, who meditates both day and night on the continuous seed of God’s Word.
As it is written, “He [or she] shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he [or she] does shall prosper.” May we all be willing to both live and die based upon God’s Word and our willingness to count the human cost of following Jesus.
Time will certainly reveal how close we are to entering into the final days or end times in which we are living. Are we therefore, truly following Jesus Christ? Are we truly obeying the truth of the Word of God? Are we truly willing to endure to the end in order to be saved, as according to Jesus?
Our Father in heaven, help us to not become as the impulsive scribe and the reluctant disciple of our Scripture to consider. Teach us to fully understand the human cost of following Jesus. May we, therefore, closely follow Jesus and let the spiritually dead bury the dead, as Jesus warned the reluctant follower. Teach us to observe all things Jesus taught. In Him Always, Amen