Yesterday I started this post with the first point here of what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. Today we continue that thought from Luke 9.
Followers of Christ Are Undivided
The next man in this story is a man who Jesus reaches out to and asks to follow Him. He simple tells him “follow me.” This man seems willing, but he is not all that interested in the timing of the call from Jesus.
The focus here is on the Kingdom of God and the urgency to proclaim the Gospel to people before they perish. In Judaism, the burial of dead relatives was a duty, and therefore extremely important. Jesus is telling him that as important as that ritual is, it is more important to preach the Kingdom of God because physical death is not as serious as spiritual death. The message here is not “follow me when it is convenient for you, but rather “follow me.”
It was not that this man was against following Jesus. He just didn’t want to go there until his family situation was squared away. I was talking to someone about a relationship with Jesus one time and they told me that they like Jesus and understood what I was saying, but they just did not want to do that yet. When I asked why I got “because I want to live my life first.” They didn’t understand that what they are saying doesn’t actually make sense because it is only in Jesus Christ that we truly live. Follow Jesus without delay.
Notice the other part of this worth mentioning is the urgency of the task. We don’t know how long we have. We need to be ready.
What do I mean, then, by undivided? The heart has an inherent sin problem. If I pick and choose what to give Jesus Christ of my heart, what part will I keep? I will keep a sinful part guaranteed. We need to surrender it all to Jesus, trusting Him, and letting Him deal with the things there. When nothing is held back we have an undivided heart.
Followers of Jesus are Trusting
It seems reasonable to be able to go say goodbye to family before a journey, which is what the next man wanted to do. Yet, what we don’t see is how many people say that and then never return.
Jesus wants devoted followers, not ones who need to control it all. Family is important, but family is not an excuse to not follow Jesus. We need to trust Jesus with our families, as we do everything else.
In order to explain this, he talks about plowing the field. In ancient days farmers used animals and very simple plows. The animal would pull and the farmer had to hold it and guide it. It meant looking straight ahead and being fully engaged. If the ground was not plowed correctly because of lack of focus, then it would not be fit to be sown the plowing a waste of time.
If our real business in life is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, which consists of the message of the Gospel, then a life of someone who claims to follow Jesus, but doesn’t actually fix their eyes on Him, can be confusing. Either Jesus is the center of your life or He isn’t. We are told in the Bible to fix our eyes on Jesus because He is the one who leads the way for us. We don’t look back because when we do that we show reservation and uncertainty. When we look straight ahead we are confident and trusting of Jesus.
Jesus’ call to you today is “follow me.” Are you hurt? Are you alone? Are you feeling like you have done so much that God would never take you back? Are you beating yourself up with thoughts of “what if I was better at this or that?” Jesus says to you “follow me.” Are you at a point in your life where you have lost traction? Are you sitting, stuck, like I was on my school bus in the snow, just waiting for some help? Jesus says, “follow me”
On the other hand, maybe you have decided to follow Jesus, but you are not really committed. Maybe God is calling you to do something, or go somewhere that you would rather not. We must determine in our hearts whether or not we will allow Jesus to be Lord of our life or not?
C.S. Lewis said, “Christ says give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of you work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but have it out.”
What it comes down to is very simply the message of the cross which says, “come and die so that you might live.” We need to die with Him, that is our sin nature, in faith, and follow Him. He offers us forgiveness and eternal life.
It is not easy to follow Jesus, but it is worth it. No matter what you face today let me encourage you to press on. How interesting that this was the message preached just before the church burned down. It would seem that in our situation we are being reminded again and again to “follow me.”