Summary: There’s power in making the decision to give the gift He really wants: to "follow Him." But in this story in Luke, 3 men tell Jesus that that is precisely what they want to do. So why isn’t Jesus content with their gift?
OPEN: About three years ago, Dave Barry made this observation about Christmas:
"Your standard man, at this point in the Christmas season, has purchased zero gifts. He has not yet gotten around to purchasing an acceptable gift for his wife for last Christmas.
He did give her something last year, but he could tell by her reaction to it that she had not been dreaming of getting an auto emergency kit, even tho it was the deluxe model with booster cables and an air compressor.
Clearly this gift violated an important rule, but the man had no idea what this rule was, and his wife was too upset to tell him." (Dave Barry, "Your Gift Is in the Male," Washington Post 12-12-04)
APPLY: We’re entering into a season of “gift giving”.
A week ago - Friday - was something called “Black Friday” where many people went out and spent hours (sometimes even days) in line to get bargains on gifts they wanted to buy their loved ones.
ILLUS: Diana’s sister lives in Florida and she told us that people had been standing in line at “Best Buy” since Sunday for the store’s special opening on Friday.
(pause) I think these people have way too much time on their hands.
Now wouldn’t it be a shame if - after spending all that time in line - if these people bought things for their loved ones that their loved ones didn’t want? I mean, it’s enough of a waste of their lives to have spent days in line but to have spent that time to end up getting wrong kind of gift… now that would have been a tragedy.
ILLUS: I once read of a family celebrated Christmas every year with a birthday party for Jesus.
An extra chair of honor at the table became the family’s reminder of Jesus’ presence. There was a cake with candles, along with the singing of "Happy Birthday" expressed the family’s joy in Jesus’ presence.
One year on Christmas afternoon a visitor to the home asked the five-year-old girl, "Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?"
After a moment’s hesitation, she answered, "No, but then it’s not my birthday!"
So, since Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of Jesus’ birth wouldn’t it be a shame to give Him a gift He really didn’t want?
(pause…) So what does Jesus want for Christmas?
Our text this morning tells of 3 men who “thought” they were giving Jesus what He wanted.
1st guy tells Jesus "I will follow you wherever you go." Luke 9:57
2nd guy says he’ll follow Jesus, but he needs to go bury his daddy first.
3rd guy says he’ll follow Jesus, but he needs to say goodbye to his family first
Well… what could be wrong with this?
I mean, this is what Jesus always seems to be asking of people .
Jesus is always talking about people “following Him”
Matthew 9:9 tells us that “Jesus… saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.”
Mark 1:17 tells us that Peter and Andrew were in their boats fishing when Jesus said to them: "Come, follow me… and I will make you fishers of men."
In John 10:27 Jesus declared: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
And two chapters later He said “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26
Follow Me! (Jesus says)
From everything I can read out of Scripture, that would seem to be one of the most important things we could do. It would be one of the most valuable gifts we could give Him for Christmas (or any other time).
BUT HERE in Luke we have the story of 3 men who are willing to do just that, but Jesus tells the first man: "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Luke 9:58
He tells the 2nd man "Let the dead bury their own dead…" Luke 9:60
And He tells the 3rd man: "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62
Essentially Jesus tells these guys that they’ve gone and got the wrong gift for Him!!
What did they do wrong??
Well, after much study and consideration, it seems to me that these men all had the idea that they could give Jesus the gift of their devotion on the “cheap”.