SACRIFICING TO FOLLOW JESUS
Matt 8:18-22 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto Him, Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head. And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead.
A number of scriptures, according to bible scholars, that precede the lesson text in chronological order, record many of Jesus' parables, and their applications, that He used to teach very important spiritual lessons. He used them, not only to teach the multitudes that followed Him during His ministry on earth, but, having been recorded by inspired writers of the New Testament, they teach all that read and study their precepts today. Lessons that I have drawn from these teachings have been discussed, and are available for further consideration under the heading "Parables of Jesus." Referring to the lesson text, we find Jesus desiring to travel into another region of the nation of Israel in order to preach the gospel message of the coming of God's promised kingdom. He was presently surrounded by great multitudes of Jewish brethren that had come to hear His teaching and witness the miracles that He used to confirm His doctrine as coming from God. This event, as well as many others, took place near the city of Capernaum and on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is evident that He desired to depart unto the other side of this sea on fishing boats that were made available by His disciples.
During His preparation to depart, a number of those assembled in the multitudes expressed a desire to accompany Jesus into other areas that He intended to go and teach the gospel of repentance and baptism. His answers to them served to teach those gathered on that occasion as well as Christians today. A certain scribe came, and said unto Him, Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. Scribes are often spoken of in the gospels, are usually spoken of along with the sect of the Pharisees, and are almost always described as enemies of Christ and His doctrine. We are not told the motive the scribe had in desiring to follow Jesus. It could have been one of selfishness, or it could have been honorable. By calling Him "Master" the scribe recognized Jesus as a spiritual teacher. Therefore, it is possible that this particular scribe truly desired to learn more about the kingdom of God that was soon to come, and the plan of eternal salvation that it would bring to the world. Having this desire, the scribe made this commitment to Jesus: I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. This man was not asked by Jesus to follow Him as were the apostles. He seemed, not only willingly to do so, but he also appeared determined to follow Jesus.
Outwardly this scribe demonstrated his desire to become Jesus' disciple, yet, by His answer, Jesus assured him of the many trials, hardships, and sacrifices that he would face and must overcome in order to do so. Jesus told him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head. On many occasions Jesus referred to Himself as 'the Son of man." When Jesus is referred to as "the Son of God," His divine, spiritual being is meant, but as "the Son of man," His human nature was shown to the world. Using an example well known to earthly beings, Jesus gave the scribe this example of what he could expect by following Him: even foxes have holes, and... birds... have nests; but the Son of man, in His human form, hath not where to lay His head. To follow Jesus is evident that this scribe would not have the conveniences of a home, or the comforts of a bed, blankets, and a pillow. This is one of the many costs he must keep in mind in order to become a disciple of Jesus and follow Him.
Another that wished to follow Jesus told Him: Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. To this disciple Jesus said: Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. Most bible scholars contend that this man's father was not yet dead, but, due to ill health, was near death. Therefore, he desired to wait until his father died and was buried before he was willing to commit to following Jesus. The meaning here is that, once there is a desire to follow Him, Jesus wants an immediate, determined commitment to His cause. The meaning of the rest this phrase is to let those that are spiritually dead bury his father - those that have no interest in the cause of Christ. To follow Jesus requires a commitment that will surely result in sacrifice.