Prepare yourself to discern what is and what is not of God today. Still yourself so you can hear how God is calling you.
Matthew 8:18-22 (NRSV)
Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
The NRSV calls this section of scripture “Would-be Followers of Jesus.” When I read this passage, I wondered if Jesus was speaking to the “DINO”s of his day (Disciples in Name Only) or in our time, the “CINO”s (Christians in Name Only). Two different individuals approach Jesus about following him. His response is so typical of how he cuts to the chase and gets at the heart of any situation. In this case, he calls into question placing home and family above following him.
The scribe approaches him and says he will follow Jesus wherever he goes. Jesus’ response about foxes having holes and birds having nests, but the Son of Man having no place to lay his head shows that following Jesus means that the scribe will have to leave his comfort zone—his position of respect as a teacher and all the comfort and benefits that go with it. Jesus lets us know that he doesn’t have an earthly home and is only passing through. Perhaps the scribe had witnessed the miracles referred to earlier in Matthew 8 and the crowds that continued to grow and follow the celebrity Jesus. We don’t hear any more about the scribe following him, so it seems clear that the cost was too high.
The next would-be follower placed a condition on following Jesus when he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Honoring one’s parents was considered to be one of the highest obligations one could have. We aren’t sure if the man’s father had just died or if he was the oldest son who, by tradition, would return to his father’s tombstone a year later to ‘re-bury’ his father by putting the bones in a box and placing the box in a slot in the wall. Perhaps the disciple was thinking that he needed to stay with the family until his father died and he could then receive his inheritance. We just know in this passage that the disciple had a priority that he was placing ahead of following Jesus.
It is clear from this passage that when Jesus calls us to follow him, that call comes with sacrifice and it challenges us to give up those things that would distract us. As you reflect on this scripture, what things are you being called to give up? What is holding you back and causing you to be uncomfortable?
Lord, open my eyes to those things that distract me from following you. Give me courage to follow you in ways that take me out of my comfort zone. Help me to take up my cross and follow you. Amen.
Go with God.