Summary: Three reasons why following Jesus Christ is costly.
The Cost of Discipleship
In the middle of the first century BC, Julius Caesar landed on the shores of Britain with his Roman legions. He took a bold and decisive step to ensure the success of his military campaign. He ordered his men to march to the edge of the Cliffs of Dover, and he commanded them to look down on the water below. To their amazement, they saw every ship in which they had crossed the English Channel engulfed in flames. Caesar had deliberately cut off any possibility of retreat back to Rome. Since his soldiers were unable to return to the continent, their only real option was to advance. So they committed themselves to following Caesar. They went forth and conquered Britain.
Throughout His three-year ministry, Jesus Christ called people to be His disciples—to be committed to following Him. In Luke 9 we see the story of three prospective followers of Jesus. The theme of verses 57-62 is discipleship. And in this brief pericope we discover that following Jesus Christ is costly. I see from this passage three reasons why this is so.
Following Jesus Christ is costly because first, JESUS MUST HAVE PRIORITY OVER YOUR FLESH.
Luke 9:57 says, “As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go.’”
The parallel passage in Matthew 8 informs us that this man was a scribe. Scribes were religious scholars and leaders back in Jesus’ day. This scribe was willing to follow Christ wherever He went. I believe that he was sincere.
Jesus responds to the man in verse 58 by saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
Since Jesus’ usual practice was to encourage people to follow Him, He must have detected an overzealous spirit in the scribe.
The man was relying on his feelings at a moment of enthusiasm. He was probably accustomed to a comfortable home and life. In his impulsiveness he failed to estimate the true rigors of discipleship.
Don’t misunderstand Jesus. He is not discouraging the man from following Him. But he wants this scribe to count the cost. He wants him to know exactly what he’s getting himself into with his eyes wide open.
And what was the scribe getting into? “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
Jesus said in effect, “If you are coming after Me, you must have the attitude of denying your flesh.” A disciple must be willing to give up what others consider necessities.
Giuseppe Garibaldi lived from 1807 to 1882. He was an Italian patriot, soldier, and hero-figure. He devoted his life to the cause of uniting Italy. His greatest victory was the 1860 overthrow of the Kingdom of Naples. That event ultimately led to the unification of Italy. In May of that year, Garibaldi had landed in Sicily with a volunteer force of 1070 men (the "Thousand"). Within two weeks this force had taken the city of Palermo, forcing the capitulation of an army of 20,000 regulars. Garibaldi had an incredibly committed volunteer army. He would appeal for recruits in these terms: “I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor provisions; I offer hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death. Let him who loves his country with his heart and not with his lips only, follow me!”
Jesus invites you to discipleship. But He lets you know up front that it is a commitment that will cost you something. It’s not going to be easy. To paraphrase Garibaldi, “Let him who loves the Lord with his heart and not with his lips only, be Jesus’ disciple!”
Discipleship is costly because Jesus must have priority over your flesh. Secondly, discipleship is costly because JESUS MUST HAVE PRIORITY OVER YOUR FAMILY.
In verse 59 we read: “He said to another man, ‘Follow Me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’”
Luke tells us that this is another prospective disciple. The word “another” is significant. In Greek there are two words translated “another.” The first word is "allos" which means “another of the same kind.” For example, in John 14:16 Jesus said He would send an allos Comforter—another of the same kind of Comforter as He is—referring to the Holy Spirit.
But here in Luke 9:59 we see the Greek word "heteros"—“another of a different kind.” This man was different from the scribe in that he was not willing to follow Jesus, but rather was looking for a convenient excuse.
When he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father,” it sounds like a logical and fair request. And some commentators believe that this son’s father had just died and he wants to bury him. To the Jews, burying your father was a sacred duty. So some feel Jesus’ response in verse 60 was rather harsh and unfair to the man. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think the man was looking for an excuse not to follow Jesus. I believe that the man’s father was still living. If his father had just died, he wouldn’t have been with Jesus. Rather, he would have been at his home making funeral arrangements, since the Jews buried a person on the same day he died.