Summary: This sermon looks at three individuals who almost follow Jesus. I. The OPPORTUNIST II. The HESITATOR III. The PROCRASTINATOR
The Almost Followers Of Jesus
I watched a video this past week of a table saw that would not cut through flesh. Have any of you worked with table saws? If you have you know how dangerous they can be. They can remove a misplaced finger in less than a second. But the video showed a recent invention that has some sort of sensor hooked up to it that will stop the blade before it comes in contact with flesh.
They demonstrated the function by first cutting through a piece of plywood. Then they took a hot dog and slowly brought it in contact with the blade. In less than a second the blade sensed the texture of the hot dog. A braking mechanism was engaged in the table saw and stopped the blade instantly. It was amazing. The hot dog was not cut. But if that wasn’t enough – the inventor was so confident in his invention that he volunteered to put his finger into the blade. Folks – that takes either stupidity or a lot of faith.
To my amazement the inventor took his hand – pointed his finger toward the saw – laid it on the top of the table saw and moved it toward the blade. (Do not try this at home.) He moved rather slowly – but right before his finger came in contact with the blade – the braking mechanism engaged and stopped the blade. No blood! No loss of flesh! Nothing! He did not receive even a scratch. He had faith in his invention. He believed it would work. What if Christians had that kind of faith? What if Christians had that kind of commitment in our Lord?
Today our passage tells about three men who Jesus met as He travelled with His disciples. Two of these men declared that they wished to follow Jesus – to become His disciples. The other was one Jesus called to follow Him. Let’s go ahead and read our passage this morning:
“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You 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." And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; 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."
Luke 9:57-62 (NASB)
The first thing I notice in this passage is that Jesus encountered three men – each one has a different level of commitment and each one receives a different response. The first man I would call:
I. The OPPORTUNIST
“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You 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."
This man seems to be more interested in what he can get out of a relationship than what he needs to put into it. He has high expectations. He expected to get an easy life by following Jesus. I mean – if Jesus is the King of kings – shouldn’t there be the “good life” that goes along with it?
Many people think that following Jesus should be easy. But folks let me tell you a truth – following Jesus can be hard. There is a cost involved. That is why Jesus tells him: "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." Have you considered the cost? Have you considered what it is going to take to follow Jesus?
Jesus could have talked about a mansion over the hill top – but he didn’t. He could have talked about streets of gold – but he didn’t. He could have talked about eternal life with no more sorrow and more pain – but he didn’t. And do you know why? It’s because – before there is a crown there is always a cross.
In the book of Matthew Jesus said this:
“And everyone who has left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit life eternal.” Mat 19:29
In this verse he gives us a promise. We shall receive a hundredfold – we shall inherit eternal life. But notice what happens first. First there is the leaving – then there is the receiving. First there is sacrifice – then there is reward. It cannot be any other way. This is a truth we need to understand. This is a truth we need to consider. There is a cost when you follow Jesus. "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."