Following Jesus

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And a scribe came up and said to him, “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.” Matthew 8:19-20

What an interesting reply Jesus had to this man who declared that he would follow Him wherever He went. Jesus did not say, “Welcome to the team!” or “Great to have you aboard!” Instead, he told the scribe that foxes and birds had homes, but He did not. Interesting. Why did he say that? What was he trying to tell this man? That he shouldn’t follow Him? I think that more likely He simply wanted to confront this well-intentioned man with the reality of just how hard it would be to follow Him.

During His ministry, Jesus sacrificed the things that most of us think are necessary for daily living, like a home, somewhere to sleep, guaranteed meals, and a family to come home to. Even animals have most of those things. But not Jesus. He couldn’t cling to those things for security; in fact, he didn’t get to experience the comforts of many of our human desires like safety and predictability. Instead, Jesus experienced the high cost of sacrificial living. And to Him, it was completely worth it. But was it worth it to the scribe? Jesus wanted to make sure this man would be willing to accept the high price of the decision he was about to make.

The passage of Scripture does not tell us what the scribe chose, but I keep wondering, Did he do it? Did he feel that it was worth it, or did he walk away with his eyes cast to the ground, knowing he couldn’t give up so much? In my heart, I hope that he joyfully turned to Jesus and said, “Yes, yes! You are worth the cost!” However, in reality, I am afraid that perhaps he didn’t. Most of us can only trust what we see with our earthly eyes; we can’t imagine the amazing things that would be in store for us if we would follow Jesus completely, wherever He took us. We can only envision what we would lose.

It is true, when we make a commitment to follow Christ at all cost, we might not know exactly where we are heading or what we might have to give up. Hebrews 11:8 states that “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” He had no clue where he would end up, but he trusted that God’s plan for his life was better than his own.

However, this commitment didn’t come without a price. Abraham, like Jesus, gave up the comfort of his own home and instead lived “like a stranger in a foreign country” (Hebrews 11:9). He lived as a nomad, following God with each step of faith, even as circumstances seemed to contradict the very things God had promised him. But Abraham had his eyes set upon things above human understanding: “Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God” (Hebrews 11:10). God can set our sights on that too.

I have recently prayed, “Lord, I will follow wherever you go.” I truly want to follow Jesus like Abraham did, without any strings attached, with complete faith in Him.  But I can tell you that I have to rely on God to strengthen me and equip me for this journey because alone I am weak and prone to following my own desires. My desires usually center around my need to pacify my insecurities and play things safe. I like to be nestled in the comfort of everything familiar and unthreatening. I like the security of knowing what is up ahead, not the uncertainty of what might be around an unknown corner.

However, God has not called me to such a life. He has called me to a life of faith, not predictability. I pray that through God’s own faithfulness and leading, He will provide me with all the faith I need to follow in His footsteps, wherever He may lead, even when it costs me something or leads me to a place I am not expecting. I hope I respond as Abraham did when he was asked to step out in faith. Genesis 12:4 records his simple response: “So Abraham went, as the Lord had told him.” If I can do the same, if I will trust Him fully and step out in the courage He gives me, the road that He leads me on will most certainly be the most blessed and greatest adventure I will ever take.

 

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