I want to begin by reading our text in Luke 9:57-62. Like these three men, the call of Christ comes to us when we might least suspect it. Many Christians who are faithful today can tell wonderful stories of the providence of God in their conversions to Christianity. Perhaps one may have met a Christian on a bus one day and decided to begin classes. Family members may have been diligent Christians. Spouses who convert the other. Maybe a non-Christian reads the Bible and something suddenly ‘clicks.’
In any case, we all, at some point, have heard the call of Christ. He has said “Follow me” to everyone in every walk of life in every language. Just as it says in Romans 10:18, “But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
My question to you, then, is this; when Christ says “Follow me” are you willing to drop everything and do so? When you overhear a conversation between two non-Christians about a Bible matter, do you jump in? When you are confronted by atheists, do you make the time to answer their questions appropriately? When the Mormons come knocking on your door, do you give up an hour of your day to study with them?
Every one of you today is in one of two conditions. Either you are a baptized Christian with the obligation to follow Christ wherever He may lead you and to be ready to spread the Gospel under any circumstance (2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season.”) or you are not baptized and you have the obligation to follow the call of Christ and obey the commandments in the Bible to believe, confess, and be baptized.
Follow Him Wherever He May Go – Verses 57-58
“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You may go.” And 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.”
According to the parallel text in Matthew 8:19, this first man is a scribe. This is significant because it shows the diverse group of people that were listening to and [at first] enthusiastically following Him. But like so many people of His time, as well as today, this scribe was unwilling to go the next step beyond lip service. It is really easy for all of us to shout “I will follow you” without ever fully understanding the obligation that it entails.
Following Christ at first seemed like a good idea to this scribe. Christ is performing miracles and feeding thousands of people and He is always teaching such wisdom! But as soon as Christ begins to paint the picture of how difficult servitude is, we can all just imagine how this man’s countenance must have fallen.
Take a look at the example of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19: 16-22. Notice how quickly the man’s expression falls to disappointment. He walks away from His encounter with Christ grieving, because the road to salvation involved something that he did not want to do.
Christ never promised that our service to Him would be easy! In fact, He seems to promise that it will be the exact opposite. Take a look at the language that He uses to describe service in the Kingdom. In our text today, He makes no excuse for the way He personally has to live—that is, with no home and no place to rest on this earth. Any servant of Christ should not expect anything more. He tells His disciples in Matthew 10:22 that “You will be hated by all on account of My name.” He says again in Mark 8:34 that “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” He calls the Way of salvation “a narrow door” in Luke 13:24. And there are a number of other passages wherein Christ prepares His disciples for hardship.
And anybody, like the scribe in our text, who ever thought that the Way would never be filled with trouble, simply did not understand what Christ was saying.
We have two paths that we can take to eternity, Christ’s path or Satan’s path. And both paths are spelled out quite clearly for us in the Gospel. Christ’s path involves trial and tribulation. It involves pain at times and the seemingly overwhelming task of preaching the Gospel to all creation. Christians throughout all time have had to endure the hardship that compliments this choice in life.
In the first century, Christians were faced with powerful enemies from all fronts. John writes in 1 John 5:19 that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” That means that everything around us, all of the worldly ideas and philosophies that corrupt the mind, are from Satan! Satan works in devious ways, as is noted in Ephesians 6:11 where Satan’s activities are described as schemes and wiles.
The manifestation of these schemes came often in the form of persecution to the church. This point is illustrated quite clearly in Hebrews 11:36-38. All of these terrible things happened to Christians, yet, the writer of Hebrews asserts that it was by faith that these men and women conquered the evil and retained the good.
But why, you might ask, would a person choose Christianity? Why, if it promises difficulties, would someone become a part of a despised group of people? Well, let me tell you this; the reward outweighs the suffering! The writer of Revelation helps us with this concept. We see from passages already discussed that there will be few people who choose the path of salvation. This group, or remnant, is figuratively represented in the Revelation 14:4 as the 144,000 who are redeemed. While a completely figurative number, it is important to see the reward of this relatively small portion of the world’s population. Turn with me to Revelation 14:3-5. The valuable phrase that I want to pull out is that “they follow the lamb wherever He goes.” Continue reading in verses 12-13. So try to ask yourself; will I follow the Lamb wherever He may go?
Follow Him Instead of What Is Worthless – Verses 59-60
“And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
First, understand that when one says ‘worthless’ in regards to some things, he only means worthless in comparison to how important spiritual things are. Christ employs a useful figure of speech in our text when it comes to the man who wanted to bury his father before obeying Christ. Christ does not mean that burying one’s deceased father is unimportant, or that it is not a necessary thing to do. In fact, tending to a dead relative could be considered a very important thing to do. But compared to the call of Christ—compared to the very words of a living and breathing Gospel which beckons us to eternity—burial of a father is paltry.
This man had the opportunity to follow Christ and witness wonderful miracles. He had the opportunity to listen to the words of Christ from His own mouth. He had the opportunity to live face-to-face with the living Son of God! Yet, he was too concerned with the worries and cares of this life that he did not see the opportunity standing right in front of him.
So we have to ask ourselves; what is really worth following??? We are given a perfect example of this concept in Hosea 7:10-16. Ephraim shows us just what it means to follow after that which is worthless. God is disappointed because they “neither returned to their God, nor have they [followed] Him.” They “strayed” from Him and turned away from Him. We read that they turned toward something to follow it, but it was not God to whom they turned. Egypt and Assyria and all the pleasures of adultery with those nations seemed more appealing to them than the strength of the Lord.
We find another good example in the Old Testament in 2 Kings 17:15-17. Notice the progression from bad to worse that occurs in the people of Israel. It all started when they chose not to follow God and follow, instead, things that were vain. They chose to follow the customs and sins of the nations surrounding them. It progressed from vanity to idolatry to witchcraft to child abuse and even, if we can assume so, child sacrifice to idols.
Given these two examples, it is time for each of to consider what we have been following. Have we chosen to wholeheartedly follow the Gospel, or are there things that ensnare us and enslave us? Are there secret sins that we commit that consume us and distract us from the work of the Lord?
Let me help you, if you are having trouble with this, by showing you a couple instances of people who did truly follow Christ. Take a look at Matthew 9:9. We need to ask ourselves what we would do if Christ walked into our office one day and said “Follow Me.” Matthew dropped everything he was doing and went with Him. Next, look at Matthew 4:18-22. Here a couple examples of people who, again, after hearing the call of Christ dropped everything, leaving their father behind in the boat, and followed Him.
When we look back at our text in Luke 9, it seems like allowing time to bury this man’s father would be an acceptable thing to do. After all, it is not as if he is trying to follow idols or the sensuality of the world. But this was unacceptable to Christ. The Son of God demands obedience, wholeheartedly, even in the most awkward scenarios. After all, what is really more important; burying a deceased father, or following the work of Christ and saving souls?
Follow Him With a Whole Heart – Verses 61-62
“Another also said, “I will follow You, but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The third and final man in our text is, perhaps, most like us. I know that I feel much like him at times in my service to the Lord. I have the hardest time when I see how fun it is to sin, and how happy my friends seem to be. I see how popular atheism and evolution are at work and with many other associates. I consider how blissful ignorance really is!
This man is the same way. He saw Christ and wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to follow Him, but his past still tugged at his heart. He still desired his home and his bed and job security. He wanted to have the best of both worlds—pleasing Christ and pleasing himself at the same time.
Demas is an example of a person like this. He was one of Paul’s traveling companions, whom Paul mentions in several of his epistles. Yet, in 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul writes, “For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. . .” Demas had picked up his plow and started working, but when the toil was too great for him, Demas gave up and turned around, leaving Paul behind.
I already read a little bit from Hebrews 11, but I want to read a few more verses from there. Turn to Hebrews 11:8-10. Abraham, when called by God, picked up everything he had, family and all, and left the beautiful country from which he had come, only to live as an alien in a land that was not his. If there is anybody who has ever had an almost good enough reason to turn around and look back, it was Abraham. But let us keep reading in Hebrews 11:14-16. With the kind of faith that Abraham had, nothing could have caused him to desire his old country. He followed God into a desert and never looked back. He desired something greater, and he simply trusted in the Lord who promised it.
We all must do the same thing! We cannot just jump into this “Christian thing”, not knowing what God expects, and then turn around when it gets too difficult. When we pick up our plow and work on the harvest of souls to be saved, we cannot drop the plow and look back at the sinful life from which we came. We cannot look at the greedy rich people, the beautiful super stars, the alcohol, the drugs, the lying and cheating, and say that we want it back! Because we desire a BETTER COUNTRY!
Learn from the example of Caleb, who learned to follow God with his entire heart. Read along with me in Joshua 14:8-9,14. Because Caleb followed God, he was richly rewarded, not simply with land and a long life, but with something even greater. Caleb is being rewarded in Paradise right now because of his faith. We, too, can follow this example and live a life that is completely for God.
So, I ask you again; when Christ says “Follow Me”, are you willing to drop everything, leave your life of sin behind, pick up your plow and follow Him wherever He may go? I have shown you a number of examples in the Bible of people who did. All of their names are written in the book of Life, which is in Heaven. Will your name be with theirs?
The plan of salvation is simple. You have heard this message tonight and now have an opportunity to act upon it. To become right with God, you must end the sin in your life, repent of those things which hold you back, reject every earthly encumbrance upon your soul, and be baptized in the waters of remission. Mark 16:16 says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. . .” If you wish to follow Christ and gain salvation this very day, then why not obey this invitation right now?