Lent 5 (2012)–The Cost of Following

We’re increasingly accustomed to the concept of followers.  Facebook has followers, even subscribers who share, comment, and like.  Celebrities have followers.  There are even Nabisco Wheat Thins followers and Bronx Zoo Cobra followers on Twitter.

Jesus has followers: they’re called disciples.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter, fan clubs, paparazzi, groupies, or wannabes, following Jesus costs you something. 

Jesus makes it clear that who or what you follow reflects much about the depth of your heart’s commitment and your intellectual agreement.

The Song of Ascents, Psalm 121, is echoing in the background, “I lift my eyes up to the hills—where does my help come from?”  The choice of who or what to follow is contained in your answer:  the hills of the world’s comforts, or the God who made them.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

Think about it: for Jesus, the purpose of having followers isn’t His personal popularity, increasing His profile of friends, or validation of His ideas.

Jesus isn’t looking for a “follower for a day” like it’s the flavor of the month.  He’s looking for committed followers—disciples for an eternal lifetime.  He isn’t looking for a crowd of increasing size.  He’s looking for disciples of increasing spiritual depth.  He isn’t looking for people who will follow Him for what’s in it for them in the earthly sense like a social pyramid scheme.    He’s looking for people who follow Him because they see beyond the hills of their kingdoms and castles all the way to God Himself. 

Jesus is confident in being the Son of God. 

He knows His role is that of revealing the Father and His Kingdom to us. 

Outside of the Father’s pleasure with Him, He needs no other affirmation.

Following the Father’s will for Him means enduring the Cross.  Following for Jesus is costly indeed.

In the Scripture passage above, Jesus rejects some ideas about what following entails and by doing so, He sets the record straight:

  • Jesus rejects the idea that following Him is contingent upon material circumstances and comfortable places to call home.
  • Jesus rejects the idea that following Him can be delayed until a convenient time.
  • Jesus rejects the idea that following Him can be a secondary priority—one pursued after you’ve done all the things you want to do.

For the disciple listening to Jesus, looking to earthly hills for help isn’t an alternative worth considering.  Those fit for service in the Kingdom of God will have their gaze above and beyond mere hills of comfort and convenience.  They will follow even when it costs them something now, knowing that what lies ahead (and who they follow) is nothing less than the glory and presence of God Himself—God with us, Jesus, Emmanuel.

Questions for meditation:

  • Think about all the things you follow.  What priority does Jesus have among them?
  • Read John 21:15-23.  What does Jesus say to Peter about the connection between love and following?
  • How tempted are we to compare our spiritual journey to someone else’s?  What does Jesus say about that in the John passage above?


Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on February 27, 2012

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