1) True Disciples do not follow the crowds
Jesus was not following what most church strategist would have done. Jesus had a crowd and He had momentum but there was something Jesus knew that we must pay attention to in our Churches. Just because someone is called a disciple does not mean they really are one.
My friend Pete Menendez from the Marion Baptist Association says, “God did not call us to make members, He called us to make disciples”
Jesus was not worried about the crowd and at this moment He knew it was time to take a step back from them. It could have been that in His human nature He was tired. It could have been that He saw crowds were gathering around Him for the wrong reasons. It could have been that Jesus saw that they had expectations of Him that were wrong. Whatever the case Jesus tells His disciples to get the boat so they can go to the other side.
One of the challenges in doing ministry is to always believe that you have to fulfill every need of those around you. We are called to share the good news of Christ and minister but we have to be careful that we do not just see the crowd and continue to do ministry when we are to stop. This is not easy for people because they see the crowd and feel an obligation to make sure everyone’s needs have been met. This of course is impossible and it almost sounds harsh to leave but that is what we must do at times.
In John 17:4 Jesus says that He brought Glory to the Father by accomplishing everything He was sent to do. Does this mean everything was done? No, there will always be ministry to do but we have to be careful to not get caught up in the crowd and allow them to dictate to us what ministry we should be doing. We also need to be careful that we are not just doing ministry for our own gain. The crowd can make you feel good and praise your name for all you have done. If you are not careful then what will happen is you will start listening to the crowd and not to God for direction. Jesus knew the balance and He knew when it was time to step away from the crowd.
2) True Disciples follow Jesus but not for their own gain
“Little had done more to harm the witness of the Christian church than the practice of filling its ranks with every volunteer who is willing to make a little profession, talk fluently of experience, but display little of the perseverance.” (D.A. Carson, Sermon on the Mount, Pg 179)
The Scribe “I will follow you wherever you go”
This man was very respectful to Jesus and it was a big deal that a teacher would submit themselves under another teacher especially a teacher like Jesus who did not go through all the schooling and even broke away from some of the traditions they held.This means that this scribe recognized that Jesus had more knowledge than himself and that he could learn from Jesus. There is no doubt that this man believed what he was saying and he did at the time feel as though he would go anywhere with Jesus.
Jesus responds to the man that “He has no place to lay His head.” Jesus could see the mans heart and knew why he was following Him.
John 2:23-25 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
Jesus saw through this man and his words and maybe Jesus saw that this man wanted to follow Jesus for what he could get out of it. Maybe, he saw this charismatic miracle worker gaining in popularity and wanted to get in on it at the beginning so he could gain a spot at the top.We do not know but we do know that Jesus knew and Jesus said whatever the man needed to hear to make him realize this was not really what he was looking for.
“Sugarcoating the message of the gospel, trying to make it appear to be less demanding than it is – or even not demanding at all – not only compromises God’s Word and does disservice to the Lord but also does disservice to those to whom we witness.” (John MacArthur)
From the outside it looked like this was something the man wanted to be a part of. Big crowds and miracles were something anyone would want to be a part of if that is all there was to ministry. Jesus made it clear that this was not a ministry that would be comfortable because it would mean there would be times that you would not know where you were going to sleep at night.
3) True Disciples have Jesus as their number one priority
The second man comes to Jesus wanting to follow Him yet he has one simple request and that it to bury his father.Jewish tradition required that a person mourn for his deceased father or mother for a period of thirty days.Burial duties we considered sacred responsibilities (Genesis 25:9, 35:29, 50:5-6). We also know Elisha asked Elijah permission to say good bye to his family and he was allowed. (See 1 Kings 19:19-21). This seemed to be a reasonable request but again because Jesus knows the heart there must have been more to this story than the man was letting on. We know that this expression “Bury my Father” is still used in the middle east today and it means that they are waiting for their father to die and then get the inheritance. This must have been what Jesus knew and because of that He showed the man the true cost of being His disciple by saying, “Let the dead bury their own dead”
For those of us that are old enough to remember the old televisions we would know what it was like to bring them back into adjustment. When your television was old it would have a tendancy for the picture to get out of adjustment and you would see the bottom of the picture toward the top and the top of the picture at the bottom. To get it back into focus you would bang on the side or the top of the television hoping the picture would straighten out so you could see the television show you wanted to watch. When Jesus says things to people He is trying to get their picture back into focus. This man just like the other had a view of Jesus and what it meant to follow Him that was not clear. Jesus has said things like this before when He talked about plucking out your eye or cutting off your hand so you do not sin (See Matthew 5:27-30) Jesus was saying that sin must be dealt with radically not that we should mutilate ours bodies.
Jesus is showing the truth behind the mans statement not because it had to do with his father but with his commitment to being a true follower of Christ. The man used an excuse that sounded good and even Biblical but Jesus saw right through it and showed the man that he would have to be willing to surrender everything to follow Him.
1 Peter 2:11-12 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
“Jesus plunges the disciples into total lack of security…and requires a break even with the strongest of human links, the family” (Charismatic Leader, Hen-gel, pg 5)
Jesus knew that this man needed the security of his family or his families money and Jesus was calling Him to let even that go and trust in Him totally for everything he would need.
4) True Disciples do not quit when things get difficult
These two men are not heard from again after Jesus shows them what it will really cost them to be followers of His. These men were called disciples and they must have been hanging around Jesus for some time but when it became difficult they walked away. Many in our churches do the same thing because we have taught them that if they follow Jesus He will reward them on this earth and bless them financially and physically. That is not always the case although we will recieve those blessing in eternity when we are renewed and get to spend eternity with God.
“R.C. H. Lenski “Such a person sees the soldiers on parade, the fine uniforms, and the glittering arms and is eager to join, forgetting the exhausting marches, the bloody battles, the graves, perhaps unmarked.”
2 Timothy 3:12-13 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
What will happen if Christianity is no longer allowed in America?
We do not think of such a day but some Christians have had some difficult days because they stood up for what they believed. According to Christianity.com Catholic Charities in Illinois shut down its adoption services rather than place children with same-sex couples (as the state required).
*A Christian counselor was penalized for refusing to advise gay couples.
*A court clerk in New York was told to issue same-sex marriage licenses, despite religious reservations.
*A wedding photographer was sued for refusing to shoot a same-sex wedding.
In each case, the Christian(s) involved were not attempting to impose their religious views on others. They simply didn’t want to be forced to participate or offer tacit support for something they felt was in violation of their religious conscience.”
As a Christ follower I do not follow what I think Christianity is or what my interpretation of it is. We have to study God’s Word and know that is what we live by as we pray and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. A day may come when you will have to decide if following Jesus is too difficult and only you can decide that. The words of Jesus are not always simple to follow but when we have truly been changed by Him we will follow Him no matter how difficult it becomes in this life.