“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but…” Matthew 8:20 (NIV)Posted November 30th, 2009
by Rich Carlson
Someone said to Jesus, "Teacher, I will follow you anywhere you go" (Matt. 8:19). To which Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds have nest, but I have nowhere to lay my head."
"Lord, first let me go bury my father," and then I’ll follow you, someone else said to Jesus (verse 21). To which Jesus replied, "Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead" (verse 22).
So I conclude that if I am looking for materialistic security I probably won’t find it being a follower of Jesus. If I do, then His purpose is for me to use what I have to be a blessing to others.
Jesus’ ministry was short-lived and therefore extremely focused. I see Him providing few promises that following Him would be easy or convenient; but it would be worth it!
In following Jesus, I can’t put it off and decide later, follow Him when it’s convenient, or when I get old and don’t have much else going for me.
Jesus’ words troubled me for a long time. I couldn’t imagine Jesus being so hard-hearted or insensitive to the tragedies of life that when my dad died He wouldn’t bless me for taking a couple days off work to be with my family and attend his funeral. I couldn’t handle that kind of a God. And besides, dead people can’t bury dead people—they’re already buried. So, what’s the point?
I’m thinking that this man’s father was probably not dead. If he was, the man probably wouldn’t even be there talking to Jesus. He’d be home burying his father. I think this man was not asking to be allowed to leave for a couple days to participate in a funeral; he was negotiating the terms on which he would join the family of God and become Jesus’ follower. "I sure want to follow you Jesus, but just in case something significant comes up…I want time off." If I need excuses for not following Jesus completely, society and my own selfishness can come up with plenty of them. Jesus is saying to me, "I’m not asking you to follow Me for what you can get out of it or when it’s convenient for you. If you want to follow Me, you have to decide to do it My way, all the way."
So, I better count the cost and in an entirely different way and I had better not set parameters and "exception clauses" when I accept being a follower of Christ. I think Jesus is telling me that it’s a big decision and I shouldn’t take it lightly. The cost is high, but His rewards are greater. Half-way commitment to Christ does not bring half-blessings. And Christian commitment that is at my convenience only brings confusion.
Rich Carlson is campus chaplain at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. “God Is Faithful” is adapted from the email devotionals he writes regularly for the Union College family. Rich enjoys filling his life with God, his family, and especially his five grandchildren.