It is amazing how often the issue of following Jesus came up as the sole issue in Bible days. Below is only one small section of Scripture showing this:
The unnamed man apparently knew the issue was following Jesus and he brought that up himself. He said he would follow Jesus wherever he goes with no stipulations. Jesus' reply is somewhat surprising. He did not encourage him to do that, but instead told him, in part, the cost to be his follower stating it would not be a bed of ease. He needed to know, it wouldn't just be hearing the wonderful teachings directly from the lips of the Lord Jesus and seeing various types of miracles. To follow Jesus would mean you would leave your loved ones, house, job and travel with him. That in turn might include sleeping on the cold ground in a remote place, etc.!
For some reason the Lord never mentioned there the possible persecutions to the point of death, as he did elsewhere. Also, it almost seemed like the Lord was trying to discourage him from becoming a follower, which would be better in the end than having someone come alongside the Lord in salvation and afterwards fall away -- taking others with him.
Again, following Jesus was brought up. Jesus brought it up this time. NOTE: Unlike John 3:16
the Lord never mentioned believing in Jesus Christ, but essentially requested the same! (To believe on Jesus is the same as OBEYING him, that is, to FOLLOW JESUS.) Much different from Matthew who obeyed when he heard those exact words -- follow me (Mt. 9:9) -- the unnamed man here voiced a single desire related to his own father.
What exactly is meant by let me go and bury my father is not clear. It could mean: (a) my father just died and needs to be placed in the grave, or (b) my father is old and doesn't have many years left to live. Let me tend to him and see him buried.
Jesus' response was surprising. He shockingly said, Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God. That shows indirectly how important it is to verbally spread God's truth and that it is more important than burying your own father.
The merciful and loving Lord Jesus replied in a way which would unjustly seem hard, cold and indifferent to some, but it wasn't. God looks at the big picture. That man needed to spread God's truth for the sake of all who have a heart for truth. That would have eternal ramifications. For him to delay would adversely affect others from being exposed to God's life-giving truth.
Jesus told him how to deal with the situation. He said, Let the dead bury their own dead. In other words, let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead. Again, he had a much higher, critical and more Godly task -- proclaiming the kingdom of God.
What does proclaim the kingdom of God mean? The Jehovah's Witnesses erroneously think it is related to 1914 and the 1,000 year reign of Christ! So what is the real truth about proclaiming the kingdom of God, as opposed to that nonsense? The answer is neatly expressed in Acts 20!
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me -- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:21-27)
The early Christians equated preaching the kingdom to the plan of salvation: turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. That is proclaiming the kingdom of God and what the Lord Jesus wanted the man in Luke 9:59,60 to do. All Christians are to do the same to some degree -- maybe not as a pastor, but certainly as a personal soul winner and witness.
Another unnamed man brought up following Jesus too. He knew it was God's will for him to do that, but something was of greater concern. He asked for permission to do something seemingly small: first let me go back and say good-by to my family. His simple request was also denied! Again, Jesus' answer seemed uncaring and unloving, but wasn't. Was Jesus trying to divide his family?
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. (Luke 12:51-53)
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mt. 10:34-39)
Jesus, rightly so, demands top priority. That is part of our test. His will must be obeyed over natural tendencies. We must love Jesus first and above our family members (and own life) to be worthy of Jesus, who is eternal life. Second place for Jesus is never satisfactory and will never result in salvation in the end. Jesus must be our Lord, the one we obey and follow to the point of death, to be his.
Jesus said one is not fit for the kingdom of God, who would place his hand to the plow and look back. To plow back then with a horse or ox was hard work, which demanded attention to keep the cuts straight. To look back would hinder quality plowing, but also imply something much more serious. It would connote looking back in regret to the world from which a disciple has come out of to follow Jesus. Do you remember Lot's wife? She was the one who looked back and turned into a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26). Jesus taught, remember Lot's wife (Luke 17:32).
Dear reader, is the Jesus you believe in, the one who would answer in the aforementioned ways? Is he, in your mind, the one who would notice and make an issue of not being one's first love?
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Rev 2:4,5)
Have you too forsaken your first love? Are you following Jesus now unashamedly? The salvation of the soul is the issue for you! Will you be wise and follow Jesus regardless the cost? Click around for other teachings related to salvation and why you need to follow Jesus..