Pastor Travis Burkett
Following Jesus is no simple task. We are going to discover that following Jesus means much more than just eternal security. Following Jesus means your focus is on Jesus. It means His will over your will.
Luke 9 begins as Jesus commands His disciples to go out and preach. Great things happen and God appears to be working. As they return home, they are faced with sorrow and the fear of persecution. (They hear that John the Baptist was beheaded.) Jesus understands their pain and takes them on a boat to get some much-needed rest. They are met by a multitude, and Jesus feeds over 5,000 with a boy's lunch! Jesus does many more amazing things in this chapter, including showing the disciples the cost of following Him (vs 23-27).
Jesus and His disciples were making their way to Jerusalem and Jesus was teaching, ministering, and meeting people along the way. In Luke 9:51, we are introduced to three people who seem eager to follow Jesus until they realize the sacrifice to actually follow Him. Each person is met with a radical and emotional decision to follow. However, their eagerness dies when the commitment to follow means sacrificing in their situations.
The first man said that he would follow wherever. Verse 57, ”And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” Now these words sound impressive. This man seemed to know exactly what to say. He seemed to have the right perspective. Jesus, I have no restrictions, no boundaries, no borders. But look at verse 58: “And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
Jesus is simply making it clear to this want-to-be follower that following Jesus doesn’t mean living like royalty but, in fact, often meant living in rags. We see this man say Jesus, I will follow you wherever, until the place Jesus asks him to go was a threat to the comfort and security he currently had in life. Friend, it’s easy to have a desire to follow Jesus when there is no commitment, but it’s much more difficult to follow when you are asked to leave comfort in order to commit.
This man knew Jesus but he didn’t actually follow Jesus. He had a desire to follow but when his perspective didn’t meet Jesus’ reality…he bailed. The man failed to realize that Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Jesus came to sacrifice so that we may have everlasting life. Jesus didn’t come to make an escape from Rome but to make an escape for our eternal condition. Jesus didn’t come to be praised but to be slain so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. Friend, are we actually following Jesus? Did you know that we can say that we claim Him but live like we deny Him?
We also see that this man left without changing. Jesus responds but where did this man go? Maybe he wasn’t willing to follow if it meant suffering would come. Maybe he wasn’t willing to commit if it meant comforts would fade. Maybe this man had the heart to follow but fear began to take over his perspective. Fear always asks the question: What if? (What if I follow but it doesn’t work out? What if I commit but life gets harder?). Statistics say that the #1 way people deal with fear is avoiding fear. I believe there are a lot of “Christians” that don’t really follow Jesus because they have become very good at avoiding the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
There is this fear of being uncomfortable. I’ll be honest, 'wherever' for me has been difficult. Moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, wasn’t easy. Living away from family is a bummer. My daughter has to live away from her grandparents and cousins. Looking at life by what I have to give up to say 'wherever' is difficult. Yet, when my perspective is in the Lord, the best thing I could ever say is, "Lord, wherever."
What about you? What is holding you back from actually saying, "Wherever, Lord"? The man in Luke 9 was happy to say, "Jesus, I want to follow You." Until Jesus said, "How about there?"