In the beginning of Luke 9, Jesus began making his way towards Jerusalem. This is important to know because Jesus understands that going to Jerusalem meant going to the cross.
So, imagine Jesus walking down the road, being followed by a group of people. That’s the scene set in Luke 9: 57–62. Three men talk with Jesus about what it would look like to follow him.
JESUS > COMFORT
As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (v. 57–58)
The first guy seem enthusiastic to follow Jesus. So, what’s with the weird animal metaphor?
The first thing we have to remember is that when Jesus speaks with people, he already knows their heart.
Jesus knows the deepest parts of us, including both our motives and thoughts.
See, this man tells Jesus that he would follow him wherever he went. Jesus quickly points out that even animals have a place to sleep at night, but he doesn’t.
Jesus is alluding to the question, “Are you willing to follow me under these conditions: not having a place to call home or a bed to sleep in at night?”
Jesus’ life was not one filled with comfort. From being born in a dirty barn to being hanged on a cross, beaten and naked. The life of Jesus doesn’t scream ease.
As followers of Jesus, we aren’t promised comfort either.
Now, let me be clear. Having a house or a bed doesn’t mean you’re not a follower of Jesus. The point is that none of our earthly comforts should take priority over Jesus.
That leads to the second conversation.
JESUS > CONVENIENCE
He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” (v. 59–60)
This time, Jesus asks a man to follow him. But Jesus, already knowing the man’s heart, was not surprised by his response.
At first glance, this second guy is pictured as a loving son. In the book of Luke, he reportedly tended to his father’s funeral arrangements.
By asking the man to follow, Jesus isn’t being indifferent to this man’s grief. Again, the point is that nothing should take precedence over God. Jesus tells him to let someone else handle the burial so that he can go build the Kingdom of God. In other words, “let the spiritually dead bury the dead, but you go proclaim truth to those who need it.”
But that wasn’t convenient for the man. He had a plan and Jesus was throwing that off. He had things he wanted to accomplish before he followed Jesus.
Taking care of your responsibilities or planning for the future doesn’t mean you aren’t a follower of Jesus. The point is that your man-centered plans shouldn’t take priority over Jesus.
JESUS > DISTRACTIONS
Lastly, we see the third conversation.
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (v. 61–62)
The third man agrees to follow Jesus only after he says goodbye to his family. What is Jesus’ response? “Anyone who follows Me should not look back.”
Once again, Jesus isn’t saying to ignore your family and run away. Jesus is making the point that nothing should distract you from God.
The culture during this time had a heavy emphasis on the family unit, and Jesus knew that asking the man to leave his family was a big deal. But friends, nothing is more important than Jesus, not even relationships.
Jesus gives the example of a plow. It’s interesting for us to remember that following Jesus is like plowing in the field.
When a farmer begins, they have to keep straight lines or the field becomes crooked. To keep everything straight, they have to fix their eyes on a stationary object in front of them and move towards it. If the farmers looked back at any point, the row would become crooked and the field would inevitably be ruined.
Jesus was comparing plowing a field to following him. Once you follow Jesus, it’s important for you to keep your sights on him. If you look around at any type of distraction, you’ll lose sight of Jesus.
Even worldly distractions shouldn’t take priority over Jesus.
JESUS > SELF
What do these conversations have to do with us?
Jesus knows our hearts. Just like the three men, he knows the things we find important.
As we follow Jesus, we have to continue to give those things over. Knowing Jesus is more and nothing is more valuable than him. No comfort, convenience, or distraction can replace Jesus.
When we begin to lay down the very things that take our focus off of Jesus, we can faithfully sing,
“Wherever You lead me, Whatever it costs me, All I want is You, Jesus, all I want is You, You are the refuge I run to, You are the fire that leads me through the night, I’ll follow You anywhere”