Summary: Three men are called to be disciples. The first and third came to Jesus volunteering to be a disciple. This was unusual. The second man was approached by Jesus. This was the usual way.
THE QUANDARY OF DISCIPLESHIP
INTRO: This passage contains the encounter between Jesus and three would-be disciples of Jesus.
The first two of the three are mentioned in Matt. 8:19-22.
Let’s draw a comparison between these three. The first (a scribe), said, "I will follow you regardless." The second said, "I will follow you after..." The third said, "I will follow you, but first..."
The first and third persons were volunteers. They came to Jesus. This was unusual. Jesus usually issued the invitation. The second was confronted by Jesus. This was usual.
All three have faults in their concepts of discipleship. The fault of the first was a failure to reckon the cost. The fault of the second was conflicting duties. The fault of the third was divided loyalties.
Jesus had a solution for each of these faults. To the first He demanded complete consecration. From the second He summoned prompt obedience. For the third He suggested firm determination.
I. THE FIRST POTENTIAL DISCIPLE.
This man operated on impulse. Let’s assume he was a volunteer of good intentions. He wrote Jesus a blank check for his life, signed it, and said, "I will follow you wherever you go."Recalling that Matthew calls this man a scribe, we may assume that the man had a com-fortable home, a secure vocation, and a reputable position in his community. He did not know it, but his open-ended affirmation jeopardized all three.
On one occasion James and John (and their mother) requested that Jesus give them high positions of honor in His kingdom (compare Matt. 20:20-23 with Mark 9:35-40). Jesus’ response was to ask whether they were willing to pay the price for the honor. The request of Zebedee’s sons (like the affirmation in Luke 9) was based on ignorance. They didn’t know what they were asking.
Here the scribe didn’t know what he was affirming.He was guided strictly by emotional impulse. Again and again Jesus warned potential disciples to count the cost before casting their lot with Him. Luke 14:28-33 provides two analogies of cost-counting offered by Jesus.
To the scribe in this passage Jesus said, "Before you follow me, count the cost." Up to that point the eager beaver had failed to consider what discipleship would demand of him.When Jesus said, "The Son of Man has no place to lay his head" (NIV), He did not mean no home was open to Him.
He had been welcomed often into the homes of Simon Peter, and Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
What He meant was that there was a basic conflict between Himself and the world.One who wholeheartedly followed Jesus would be caught up in the same conflict. Even sly foxes and pesky birds have places to flee in time of danger, but Jesus’ followers cannot escape the perils which threaten Him (and them).Jesus was honest about discipleship being a costly venture.
We must be honest also. We must not be so anxious in our attempts to make new converts that we forget to remind them of the cost. Redemption is free, but it is not cheap. It makes few demands on the personentering the Kingdom. But it makes many demands on the person when he becomes a child of the King.
II. THE SECOND POTENTIAL DISCIPLE.
Here Jesus issues the usual command: "Follow me." This was a call to a personal and continuous relationship. This person was fulled with mixed motives. "I will follow you...but first," he said. He failed to sense the urgency of the task of proclaiming the Gospel.Let’s try to imagine the impact this statement made on Jesus’ hearers. The ties of the typical Jewish family were extremely strong.
It was not unusual for three generations to live in the same dwelling. The elderly were well-respected, if not revered.The son was responsible for his parents’ burial. One of the most sacrilegious acts was to permit a human body to decay without having been buried.So here came a rabbi, namely Jesus, saying that there was a duty in life greater than that of family burial. That duty was the proclamation of the gospel.
Lest we think that Jesus was demanding of others what He would not do Himself, we need to recall an incident during His ministry involving His family (see Matt 12:46-50). Mary and her sons came to take Jesus home. Jesus affirmed that he was involved in a task that superceded family ties. He could not be bound by the wishes of family members when these conflicted with His life’s calling.
III. THE THIRD POTENTIAL DISCIPLE.
His problem was that he had divided loyalties. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress contains a character called Mr. Facing Both Ways. In Luke 9 the potential disciple volunteers, but his priorities are in confusion (see v. 61).
It might have taken days or weeks for this man to say all of his good-byes to family members. Feasts and revelry were a part of the breaking of family ties. Here again Jesus asserts that discipleship demands complete and undivided adherence to His cause.