You may not even realize you are holding back. The truth is most of us are. We have justified our reasoning to wait to completely follow Jesus. Read Matthew 8:18-20 below:
The Cost of Following Jesus
Matthew 18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 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 .”
The sub heading for this passage confused me at first. I thought, “What cost is there to following Jesus that is represented in this passage?” MacArthur’s Notes in his study bible offer some insight:
MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 19 a scribe. As a scribe, this man was breaking with his fellow scribes by publicly declaring his willingness to follow Jesus. Nonetheless, Jesus evidently knew that he had not counted the cost in terms of suffering and inconvenience.
Jesus saw this scribe’s heart, and knew the scribe did not know what he would be getting himself into. The scribe, fell in love with the idea, and was not thinking of everything else that would come along with it. Like a child asking for a puppy, but not thinking of the training, walking, feeding, grooming and caring for the dog over the next 10-15 years. The child just wanted a puppy to play with. We have all jumped into something too quickly without really thinking of the consequences, both good and bad, of what is to come. Jesus heeds a warning that denying this world offers little rest, safety and comfort. The text continues as others want to follow Jesus, but have some housekeeping to attend to first:
21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
Again at first glance this sounds insensitive of Jesus to not allow the man to bury his father. Yet MacArthur offers an explanation for this phrase:
MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 20 Son of Man. See notes on Mark 2: 10 and John 1: 51 . This is the name Jesus used for himself more than any other. It is used 83 times in the Gospels, always by Jesus himself. It was a messianic title ( Dan. 7: 13– 14 ), with an obvious reference to the humanity and the humility of Christ. Yet, it also speaks of his everlasting glory, as Dan. 7: 13– 14 shows (cf. Matt. 24: 27 ; Acts 7: 56 ). MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 21 let me first go and bury my father. This does not mean that the man’s father was already dead. The phrase “I must bury my father” was a common figure of speech meaning, “Let me wait until I receive my inheritance.”
The man was essentially saying I will follow you once I get the money that is coming my way. From our perspective this sounds foolish, but how do we make this same statement in our daily lives?
“I’ll take up my cross when I get that promotion.” “I’ll get involved in the church when my children move out.” “I’ll join a small group when I retire and can read more.”
How are any of these thoughts different? All of these statements boil down to say, “I will submit to God when He fits into my life.” But without missing a beat, Jesus comes back with verse 22:
22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Which MacArthur helps us interpret to mean:
MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 22 leave the dead to bury their own dead. Let the world (the spiritually dead) take care of mundane things.
All of those things Jesus calls Mundane. His direction is clear, let the spiritually dead, the ones driven by society and what this world has to offer, deal with the mundane things, the things that in the end do not matter.
All of those mundane things are excuses that we try to justify to God. I’m too busy. On the fast track. Almost retired. I’m tired. I need just a little more money. More friends. More stuff.
After these mundane things are accomplished, then, and only then will I reevaluate where I am at and let my Idol factory (Heart) make something else to strive towards other than God.
In the end our earthly bodies and sinful hearts will always find ways to focus our energy, time and money towards something other than the only thing worth pursuing. Only until we give it all…ALL to him and submit, whole heartedly to his purpose can we begin to move from the mundane (check out the definition of this word) world and into a spiritual (the antonym of mundane) world.
So pray. Repent and ask God to work in you through the Holy Spirit, to be able to walk away from this mundane world, and let the world worry about the world. What are you waiting for?