Was Jesus cold or indifferent to the man? Some falsely assert that He was indeed too harsh, at best, and unloving or uncaring, at worst. Further examination and study, though, shows the deeper lesson being taught by our loving Savior. The account to examine briefly is found in Luke 9:57-62. In short, Jesus takes advantage of the situation where three different individuals are presented the opportunity to follow Him.
When told by the first individual, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go,” Jesus responded by making it clear that follow Him requires the sacrifice of comfort. Even foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. How true it can be that we have the desire to follow Jesus, but only in comfort. Once things get to be uncomfortable, many will give up the fight. It is the lesson being taught by the Apostle Paul from the confines of prison, I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content (Philippians 4:11). True strength is found in Jesus (Philippians 4:13). True comfort is being found in a right relationship with the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
The second is the one told by the Lord to, “Follow Me.” The answer implies that he did have the desire to follow, but says, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” He was unwilling to sacrifice his family for the cause of Christ. Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” Was Jesus cold or indifferent; unloving or unkind? We must be careful not to read too much into the text. The implication is in fact that the father was probably not yet deceased. In other words, the man was saying something like, “Lord, my father is advanced in years and may live only a few more – let me be with him until he dies and then I will follow You.” This was entirely unacceptable to Jesus. Our Savior takes backseat to no one! When does the kingdom of God need to be preached? When is it right to take the saving message of the cross to a lost and dying world? It isn’t in a few years – it is NOW! Jesus says let the dead (spiritually) bury their dead (physically).
The final individual showed divided interest in his life. A desire to follow, but the same phrase as the second individual is found, “But let me first…” How many of us have that kind of mentality when it comes to being a follower of Jesus? Who are we really putting first with that kind of thinking? Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God…” Matthew 6:33. That means that if I have a job for the Lord and one for me, which gets done first? The Lord’s job! That means that if I have two places to go, one for the Lord and one for me, where do I go first? I go where the Lord desires me to be. “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God,” (Luke 9:62).
Partial surrender to Jesus is, in fact, no surrender at all. We have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), may we be willing to allow nothing to divide our allegiance to Him. Many seek salvation, but not at the cost of worldly sacrifice. Please allow the words of Brother Guy N. Woods to sum it up, “Wanting the best of this world and the next also, many wind up losing both.”