I Will Follow You

Opening Thoughts: Tonight we wrap up Luke chapter 9. One of the common threads throughout the Gospel of Luke is Jesus emphasizing what it really means to follow Him. This very day and throughout history the church has been filled with people that are both true disciples and false disciples. What I mean by true disciples is people that God has made a commitment to, not the other way around. We humans make so many commitments that we never follow through on. In fact many times we say things to people that we never even intend to get around to. Take for instance the phrase, “We should hang out sometime”. Now you likely have said that to someone or had it said to you, and you may or may not have actually intended to ever follow through with it. Or maybe you have said “I’ll give you a call”, can you even remember how many times you’ve actually said that and did not follow through. What if next time you said “I’ll give you a call” the person turned to you and said “when”. What would you say? Would you have an answer? Were you actually being sincere? or was this just a way to close a conversation?

Scripture: Luke 9:57-58 ESV

[57] As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” [58] 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.”

I will Follow You: A couple years ago Danae and I were hit with the hard reality that when we were singing songs in church almost every Sunday we were singing words to Jesus that we almost never intended to follow through with. For instance there is a song that has the phrase in it “Jesus I believe in you, and I would go, to the ends of the earth, to the ends of the earth for you”. I’m not going to get into pouncing on the song itself, all I’m saying is that 90 percent of the people who sing songs like that every week have no intentions on letting go of all their earthly possessions and following Jesus to the ends of the earth. The truth is, if we do not intend to follow through with what we’re singing or speaking we should remain silent. Or maybe we should start singing songs that focus on Christ and what He’s done for us and how He’s the one who commits to us and rescues us and makes us His. When we take the focus off ourselves and put it on God we ultimately make Him look good and not ourselves.

This text that we just looked at speaks of a person that comes up to Jesus and says to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” (wait a second, this kind of sounds like the words to that song I just quoted). At that moment Jesus could have gotten really excited and said, “hey you should sign up for my classes on how to follow me, and make sure you give me your name and number so that we get together and I can make sure you stay following me,” or, “sign this card and I’ll have my disciples connect with you.” No, Jesus was not into the games we so often play now in what we call church. He first shared with this person what the actual cost of being a disciple looks like and how it’s not an attractive life in the least. “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.” Foxes have holes? Birds have nests? What kind of talk is that? Jesus could have just said, “People have homes and I don’t,” but he was a strait shooter. He was saying that even a fox and a bird, who we would say don’t have easy lives,  have an even more comfortable life than He or his disciples. In other words, am I worth it to you?

Sadly so many people today respond to an alter call to say, “I will follow you,” and they have no idea what that means. The reason so much of this goes on is because we have matured in our ways beyond Jesus methods and we now tell people that it’s an easy thing to follow Jesus. Perhaps what we are trying to do now is get people to make a tiny commitment and get them to join up with our church club, and once they get connected to a community group they will fall in love with the people and bingo we’ve gained some new church members. Jesus never called us to soften the message at all. Anyone who desires to follow Jesus must know it will cost them their lives. Nothing on this earth should mean anything anymore in comparison to knowing Him. Can you honestly say what Paul says in   Philippians 3:8

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Maybe someone told you that you already had a great life and all you needed to do was to ask Jesus in your heart and you would be fine. If they did, they lied to you. Following Jesus will cost you everything, there’s no short cut, no sale bin.

Scripture: Luke 9:59-60 ESV

[59] To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” [60] And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

I’ll Follow You Later: I was thinking about what Jesus says here, and man does it ever seem harsh. If someone tried pulling a stunt like Jesus just did in church now days they would likely be pulled out of leadership. Jesus says to this person “follow me” they answer and say …. My dad just died and we have a big funeral coming up and I really should be there. Not only that but we have to go through his things, etc all this is going to take about a year, can I follow you then? Jesus answers and says “Leave the dead to bury their own dead” did Jesus just call the rest of this guys family DEAD? I think so, He was was saying, look the rest of your family isn’t following me let them bury him and as for you I want you to go and preach the Gospel!

Burial History: Burial at this time in Judaism often involved a year-long period from the time when the body was first buried until a year later when the bones of the deceased were placed in an ossuary box. Though this was a basic family obligation, Jesus is teaching the priority of the kingdom over family. Jesus will never be second to family.

Scripture: Luke 9:61-62 ESV

[61] Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” [62] Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Farewell: There is one last person that Jesus and His disciples run into, and they too say, “I will follow you”. The biggest issue with this person is that they end their phrase, “I will follow you, Lord”, with ‘BUT’. You never say to Jesus, “I will follow you, but…” That’s a heart with conditions. When someone is truly saved they drop everything and follow Him upon His command. It doesn’t matter if it’s something as noble as saying goodbye to your family. Nothing comes ahead of Him.

Let’s look at what happens when someone really answers Jesus call.

Scripture: Luke 5:27-28 ESV
[27] After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” [28] And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

Scripture: Luke 5:8-11 ESV
[8] But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” [9] For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, [10] and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” [11] And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Final Thoughts: The cost of being a disciple is not easy, and Jesus does not intend to lower that standard. This is why He sent us the Holy Spirit. In fact He told the disciples to do nothing until they were filled with power from the Spirit. We also read in the Scriptures, “Apart from me you can do nothing”. No matter how many commitments or re-commitments you make to Jesus stating that “this time” you will follow Him it will never stick until your life is revolutionized by the gospel. We must be struck with awe like Peter, “he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man”.

The question you need to ask yourself is, do you really see yourself as a sinful man or woman, so sinful that you don’t even feel worthy to be in the presence of Jesus? If you do then the very words of Jesus saying “Follow Me” will not be followed by lame excuses or but’s. Instead it will look just like the disciples “they left everything and followed him”!

Preparing The Way
~ Shane Martin