Finding Faith: The high cost of following Jesus
It’s pretty easy — if you want more followers on your Twitter or Instagram accounts, all you have to do is post an adorable pic with your kids (make sure your hair looks good and the lighting is right!) or your recent travels and a great meal you ate. Add in a cute little poem once in awhile or a feel-good quote and BOOM… you have a “following.”
Just make sure you look beautiful and make your life look perfect, easy and happy. After all, who doesn’t want to follow that?
In the Bible there is a lot of talk about “following,” but it’s quite interesting that Jesus seems to break all the rules on how one should go about getting “followers.”
In Matthew’s gospel, it speaks about a time Jesus was on the western side of the Sea of Galilee when the crowd got so big he actually had to get into a boat to push off and go to the other side. A man came up to Jesus and said, “I will follow you wherever you go!” (8:19)
Today we might find that strange, but this “following” language was familiar to many because Jesus had been talking about it — quite a bit! Jesus had already called the twelve disciples to “Follow Me.” Later Jesus “…sent them out saying, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money…'” Luke 9:3 He had already said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
In John’s Gospel, Jesus was so bold to even say, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (15:18) The whole tone of Jesus’ ministry is in complete contradiction to the way most people think and act today, which is basically… look good, look out for yourself, protect yourself, provide for yourself, be careful and be cautious. But this whole following Jesus thing seems to be completely different.
Back to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee and the man who said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you will go.” If you think about it, that was a considerable concession. There is a tone of complete commitment here, “wherever you will go.” Really? Wow… that’s dedication!
But listen to how Jesus responds, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.'” Luke 9:58
What is this about? Remember, Jesus often spoke with pictures, metaphors and stories that help teach a lesson. Don’t overthink it, it’s pretty simple… a fox has a hole (a den) to sleep in, which is the same place night after night, a place that is safe and secure. A bird also has a nest to rest in at night, a place where baby birds are born and food is provided that is up off the ground, safe from predators. So what is Jesus saying to this man when He admits that HE (the Son of Man) has none of these things? I think it’s pretty clear… if you follow Jesus, do NOT expect comforts in this world.
Today, this teaches that when one chooses to follow Jesus, they demonstrate trust knowing He can take better care of you than you can take of yourself.
In a fleeting, superficial world where many are concerned about ease, comfort and happiness, Jesus is teaching us to be more concerned about the world to come! Listen carefully to what Jesus promises to those who follow Him, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also… Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.” John 14:1-4, 6
What is the cost of following Jesus? The answer… a LOT. To be perfectly honest, to follow Jesus will cost you everything! In this world, you should expect nothing of physical comfort or ease; but be assured, by trusting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can expect everything perfect in the world to come.
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Tim Boger, senior pastor of Big Woods Bible Church in Lock Haven.