And He said unto another, ‘Follow Me’. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, let the dead bury the dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee, but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-62)
Recently, I was talking with a young woman, and we were talking about life in general, and then I asked her about her family. She told me what her husband did and how successful he was at work. Then she added with a distinct note of heartache and pain, “My kids and I come second to his work.” …..
I thought to myself, how sad. Let’s face facts, no wife wants to come in second to her husband’s job. She does not want him to be more passionate about his company and career than he is about his own wife and kids. Every wife wants to be #1 in her husband’s heart …..
Well, it’s the same with God. God is not unlike us in this way. He is not content to play second fiddle to lesser loves and lesser passions. In fact, in (Luke 9), we read about three would-be disciples. They said they wanted to follow Jesus — a good thing indeed! But, they wanted to follow with stipulations. They wanted to follow their own way. They wanted to negotiate the terms of the “follow Me” contract. Essentially, they wanted to follow with a divided heart …..
After praying this morning; the Spirit lead me to this passage, and after reading it, I was simply floored as new depth and revelations hit me with conplete clarity. I took note of how serious Jesus was and is about our commitment to follow Him ….
Jesus did not answer these potential followers with encouraging words. He did not say, “Hey, that’s great! Welcome aboard. We are glad to have you any way we can get you.” No, His response was not encouraging, it was challenging, and it was intense ….
His point to these three would-be followers (and all would-be followers) was clear: unless you are all in, you cannot follow Me. Unless you come and yield yourself to Me as Lord and Master, you cannot be My disciple. And if you cannot, or dare to look back; you are not worthy of Him. Jesus is not playing “Let’s Make a Deal.” He is saying quite explicitly, “This is the deal! If you are going to follow Me, you are going to follow with “all your heart” and He was serious …..
If something is going to come before Jesus in your life — as with the man who said, “Permit me first ….” you cannot follow Him. Jesus is Lord of all. If other things are more important to you than He is, you are going to miss the boat. We can read further how serious Jesus is concerning this in (Matthew 10), where He clearly states, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and follow after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38)
Wow …. Even family, whom we all love with our whole hearts are not exempt. We must choose to follow Him first and foremost, no matter who goes with us or chooses to stay behind, and yes indeed, this hurts and will grieve our hearts; as I am experiencing; yet there is no other plausible justifications or reasoning accepted. Your very life depends upon your choices ….
As you look soberly at your life, do other things in your life come before the Lord? Has a lesser love taken first place in your heart? Perhaps it is golf, or football, your job, or your family, or your friends. Perhaps social media, politics, or your favorite pastime, or something else that has become your number one passion ….
If you and I are not careful, we can easily allow idolatry to creep into our hearts as lesser loves take the throne. And complacency is easy to settle into just like your favorite easy chair. You get all cozy and comfy, and before you know it you don’t even feel like moving or doing anything, much less reading the bible or praying ….
The church in Ephesus is a good example. The people were doctrinally sound and doing good deeds in Jesus’ name, but they had “left their first love” (Revelation 2:4). Jesus was no longer sitting on the throne of their hearts, and He was not happy about it. He called the church to repent ASAP. And He did not stutter as He continued to rebuke and chasten the churches …
And lest us not forget where complacency leads: lukewarm, which we see Jesus addressing in the next chapter: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:15-17). I challenge you to read the next five verses to finish the end of that chapter ….
Perhaps you are like the three would-be disciples. You want to follow Christ, but on your terms. I dare say, that will never work. The only way to truly follow Jesus is through repentance, faith, and total surrender. We all need to learn the prayer, “Not my will, but Thine be done” and begin to apply it ….
Maybe you are a true follower, but you have fallen into the deception of the Ephesian church, thinking good deeds and good doctrine can substitute for wholehearted devotion. They cannot. The number one commandment in the Bible is to love God with all that we have, heart, body, mind, and soul. When we do that — when Jesus is clearly and truly our first and foremost love — we please Him and see Him work wonders in us and through us. There is no other way for a Christian to live. My life is a living testament to this fact ….
So, as you look within …. I would ask you — who’s on first?
Let’s pray ~
Father, I thank You for Your Word which is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. More than anything else I desire to bathe in that light of the Lord Jesus that I may become more than just warm, but hot and on fire that the light of His love and grace may shine through me to draw others to You. As You have called us to be lights in the world, reflecting the glory and light of Jesus; may I become His reflection that they might glorify Him through the witness of my life and the word of my testimony. I know this requires me to decrease to nothing so that He may increase in everything and become all in all over everything. Father, I pray that whatever it takes, that You would purge out anything that takes first priority or diminishes His light in me, and that Jesus be lifted high in my heart and life that be translucent and my vision unclouded. Give me an insatiable thirst and hunger for You that would increase each passing day that I would settle for nothing less than all of you in first place and all for Your glory. In Jesus name, Amen …..