Summary: Jesus calls us to be not just a believer but a follower which involves more than merely a kind of thinking - it involves a radical change to follow him to go wherever and do whatever he calls us to do.
A chicken and a pig were walking down the street one day and noticed some poor children who looked as if they hadn’t eaten anything for days. Moved with compassion, the chicken said to the pig, “I have an idea! Let’s give those children a nice breakfast of ham and eggs.” The pig thought about the chicken’s suggestion and said, “That’s good for you, since it would only be a small sacrifice, but for me it would involve total commitment.”
Today it seems that to be a Christian is relatively common. It seems that all it means is that you go to church and claim to believe in God and that Jesus died on the cross. It’s a lot like this chicken here. But at the time of Jesus, when Jesus called someone to follow him, it meant a lot more than what it means today. It involved total commitment.
This morning as we look at this brief conversation of Jesus with this man, we discover what Jesus means when he says follow me. Following Jesus is more than a small sacrifice, it’s a total commitment.
1. A follower of Jesus is called
In first century Israel, a disciple would always find the teacher and ask him if he could be his student. It would be like applying for a college. Paul did this as a young man and was accepted to study under the great Jewish Rabbi Gamaliel.
And so we find in our story this morning a similar man seeking to follow Jesus. He’s putting in his application by saying “Teacher, I will follow you…”
But Jesus is not like the rest of the Jewish Rabbis. He acts contrary to popular thinking. Every one of his disciples he calls himself. They don’t seek him out.
And so that is with every one of his disciples – his followers. It says in Isaiah 49:1 “The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” God has the policy: Don’t call me, I’ll call you. The very fact that you trust in Jesus in faith and worship him as your Lord is not of your own doing, it is in answer to the call of Jesus on your life. He found you as the lost sheep. He brought you to himself and you became his disciple.
And yet here in this account, we find a man approaching Jesus and asking if he can be his disciple. In his mind, he was worthy. He was an expert in the Scripture. He was ready. And yet Jesus knew better. It’s not those who are ready and have prepared themselves for Jesus who can follow him. It’s those who have been broken and realize that they are unable to follow Him. Like simple fishermen, like a tax collector, like a prostitute. They KNOW they can’t follow Jesus but Jesus calls Peter, he calls Mathew, he calls Mary Magdalene. Are you in that category?
2. A follower is NOT at home in this world
Let’s take a closer look at this man who Jesus talks to - this “wanna be” follower.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, he is called a scribe. A scribe was someone who was an expert on the Word of God. His profession was to interpret the Old Testament and the teachings of the ancient Rabbis. Many scribes were also Pharisees who were the enemies of Jesus. But this man is different. He isn’t an enemy of Jesus but wants to follow him and be his disciple.
This is wonderful and we must admire this man for taking a stand in the midst of all his colleagues who were Jesus’ enemies. We have no reason to think that he doesn’t mean what he says: “I’ll follow you wherever you go!” To be a disciple was a major commitment and he knew that. But Jesus’ response reveals that this man didn’t realize how much he had to give up to follow the Lord.
Foxes have holes. Birds of the air have nests. Actually the word here is not nest but roost. It referred to a permanent home and not just a temporary nest. But the Son of Man, Jesus, has no such permanent home.
His home is not Nazareth where he grew up. His home is not Capernaum where he spent most of time of ministry. His home is not Jerusalem where the Temple stood. His home is not on this earth, whereas the foxes and the birds ARE at home here.
Let’s go back to the man who wants with all of his heart to follow Jesus. What is Jesus telling this man who wants to follow him? If you want to follow me, you can’t be like the fox and the bird. You have to give up your connection to this world. You have to let go of your clinging to the things of this world and cling to me!