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Are They Really Followingby Duane Mabee on July 28, 2021
In Luke 9:57-62, three people considered following Jesus. Two volunteered, and Jesus asked the other one to follow Him. We don’t know if any of them eventually followed Jesus, but the tone of the account makes it seem doubtful. We do know what stood in their way. It was the high price of following Jesus. Jesus told each would-be disciple to make sure they understood what following Him would entail and be certain they were willing to pay the cost.
The first person offered to follow Jesus, but Jesus pushed back. He must have sensed that the person thought following Jesus would result in comfort and prestige. “If you’re going to follow Me,” Jesus said, “you must be willing to live as an outcast.”
There is a phrase in the accounts of each of the remaining would-be disciples that gives away the problem most of us have when it comes to following Jesus – “But first…”
Jesus asked the second individual to follow Him. But he replied, “Lord, let me first go…” The second person offered to follow Jesus saying, “I will follow You, Lord, but let me first…” They had the same problem most of us have in following Jesus. Like them we call Him “Lord”, but we have something we put before Him. It is an issue of priority and total surrender. We say to Jesus, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me build up a sizeable bank account and retirement fund.” Or “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me have all the fun I want to have.” “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me get married, let me have a career, let me get old.”
Jesus doesn’t allow the phrase, “but first…” among His followers. When He calls us to follow Him, He calls us to have nothing else above or before Him. He calls us to make Him our first and highest priority. This is true for everyone who wants to be saved and call themself a Christian. It is not just a requirement for those who would be “super saints”.
We may wonder about how these three individuals could turn away from following Jesus when they came so close. They saw Him. They saw the miracles He did. They heard His teaching. How could they turn away? Because Jesus made them face the cost of following.
A bigger concern is the number of people who call Jesus “Lord” but have never faced the cost of following Him. They have things they hold above and before Him. Every time Jesus calls them to do something or surrender in some area, they respond “I will, Lord, but first…” Since they haven’t honestly dealt with the cost of following Jesus – total surrender – are they really following Jesus at all?