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The Cost

Devotional by Lauren Webb

Scripture for Today: Luke 9:57-62 (NIV), “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he 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 goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

The coffee shop on Main pulsated with conversation. I finally found a small tabletop wedged in the corner. Like most parents of young teens, I found myself in a season of waiting and chauffeuring. The time allowed me to think about where God was calling me to serve His people. The issue was not salvation by service, but instead the expectation of service from those whom God has dealt with lovingly, and He has been so good to me. I found myself seeking His wisdom through today’s Scripture.

Here we are given three different people who either offered themselves up to follow Christ or were called to serve in His kingdom. The first proclaimed that he would follow Christ wherever He was to go. This is good, isn’t it? This is the resolution we as Christ followers should proclaim. Revelation 14:4 tells us that this type of follower is marked as first fruits to God and the Lamb. Isn’t that our greatest desire?

So why then does Christ seem to give a stern and cautionary response?

Our answer lies in the expectation of the follower. Jesus’ popularity was swelling, and they were on their way to Jerusalem, where the crowd believed Jesus would appear in His glory. This follower jumped in quickly and wanted religion to provide secular advantages. The empty promises of the prosperity gospel warped the expectation of what God would do for him. Jesus warned him that if he could not submit to harsh conditions or live in the contempt of others, then he should not pretend to follow God.

The second person did not shout out; rather, this person was called by the Savior: “Follow Me.” This time, however, he wasn’t quick. Instead, he hesitated. He asked to go and bury his father. This is a good thing in our minds, isn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to honor our father and mother? We not only can justify this request, but in fact, we are sympathetic to the man.

However, most commentaries suggest that this man was not in the midst of funeral arraignments. In reality, the request was simply for more time to get things in order. Jesus told him to allow the spiritually dead to bury the physically dead.

The Kingdom (big K) of God does not wait for man’s kingdom (little k) to be ready first.

The third person volunteered to follow after Christ but asked to say goodbye to his family first. We get this one, don’t we? It feels morally sound; it feels good. This request can also be found in Scripture as acceptable, in the account of Elisha being called to service in I Kings 19:19-21. He was allowed time to permanently leave one vocation to follow another. So Christ’s rebuke feels harsh. Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Ouch! This pierces my heart deeply.

However, we can’t compare a prophet’s ministry with Christ’s ministry. The gospel takes precedence.

We need to think about this more like Lot’s wife as she looked back on her former life in Sodom. She was not permitted to move forward. We also cannot look back on our old lives, our old shame, and our old pasts. If we do so, our plow lines will be crooked. Plowing to break up the soil is essential to sowing the seeds of the kingdom of God. When we don’t lay down our past, we aren’t living in the new. This in essence says we don’t believe we needed the Savior.

I realized my coffee was cold.

Let’s do the hard work, ladies. As women in ministry, we have been all three of these followers. In fact, we struggle through them in a continuing cycle. We keep reliving our past failures, causing our plow lines to falter. We feel we must get our personal lives in order before jumping into volunteering or teaching. We desire worldly blessings and affirmation through the work we do. The impossibility of it is overwhelming. Yet, Jesus changes everything. Feel the weight of the disciples’ hearts as they realize this same thing.

“They were even more astonished, saying to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Looking at them, Jesus said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:26-27)

Take heart, my sisters in Christ, and take stock in your heart. Lay your struggles down at His feet, admitting when you need His help to overcome. His call will not fit into our expectations, His call will not wait for us to get it all right, and His call will not allow us to remain the same.

Jesus changes everything.

Prayer Challenge: Pray this week, asking God to reveal how He wants you to follow Him in His work. Ask for one truth in Scripture that will help you focus on laying down any burdens that hinder you in this work.

Practical Practice: Interview someone in your life that serves well. Ask them how they know that God is calling them to this work. Ask which fruit of the Spirit is being strengthened through this service. Ask them to pray for you as you seek to serve God faithfully.

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