Matthew 8:14-34; Leviticus 1; Leviticus 2; Proverbs 19
“Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ 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.’” (Matthew 8:19-20 NKJV)
If Jesus were walking on earth today, He’d probably have to hire a media consultant. People are judged on social media these days by how many followers they have. The idea, in today’s world, is to gain as many followers as possible so that you’ll have the largest audience. Jesus had His chances, but He kept driving followers away. Take this interaction for example. This guy promised to follow Jesus wherever He went. In today’s world, that’s what you want. Jesus, instead, chased him away by warning him of the hardships that would face him should he really follow Jesus. After this guy, Jesus responded to a guy who wanted to wait until after his father died and they had the funeral, and Jesus told him that it was now or never. He could have capitalized on His miracles and healings to get people to follow Him, instead, He used a healing in a way that disrupted the local economy and the people begged Him to leave. Jesus just didn’t understand media. Unless…unless He had a different goal, which He did. His goal was to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven. He didn’t need hangers on, He didn’t need huge numbers of followers for the sake of the numbers. What He needed then, and still needs today, is followers who are willing to undergo the hardships involved with a total commitment to Him, including being willing to die in His service if necessary. No wonder it’s so hard for Jesus to get true followers.
Does that kind of warning scare you away from following Jesus? It should make you think. In the long run, you should ask yourself if it really is worth it to follow Jesus. One of the early church fathers, Polycarp, was brought before the Roman authorities and convicted of crimes against Rome for following Jesus. As he was being led to his execution, one of the Roman officials begged him to recant to save his life. Polycarp’s response was that he had served Christ for eighty-six years and God had done him no wrong and he wouldn’t blaspheme His God now. Polycarp thought it was worth it to follow Christ to the death. Christians who have undergone persecution and death in our day would tell you that it was worth it to follow Christ in spite of the consequences. How can we make any other choice?
Lord, it’s been easy to be a Christian here in America, but it won’t always be that way. Help me and my brothers and sisters in Christ be willing to pay the price to follow You. Help us learn from the lives of Polycarp and other martyrs down through the ages. Help us learn from the examples of faith we see today in lands where Your people are persecuted and executed for following You.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.