Yesterday on our way to work, I read Matthew 8 and verse 20 caught my attention. I wanted to reflect on it more. It states: 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.” This was Jesus’ response to a scribe who came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”
Jesus didn’t say “Follow Me”. He told him that unlike the foxes and birds who had homes, He didn’t. Jesus traveled from place to place. He slept out in the open for the most part and sometimes stayed with friends. He had no place to call home which makes sense since His kingdom is not on this earth. He didn’t come to put down roots or to set up a kingdom. He came to teach, heal and sacrifice Himself.
At first I wasn’t sure what He meant when He answered the man’s request to follow Him so I read some Bible commentaries which helped me tremendously. Jesus was letting the man know that following Him was not a walk in the park. It was not a glamorous life. Discipleship carried with it a cost than not many are willing to pay. This scribe was making a rash decision. Was he interested in joining Jesus because of His fame? Jesus was popular among the crowds. People flocked to see and listen to Him. He performed miracles. He taught with authority that made the people marvel. Jesus was akin to a celebrity in His day and that may have been what attracted this scribe.
This reminded me of the wife of Zebeedee’s request about her sons sitting on either side of Jesus in His kingdom. Jesus asked if they were willing to take up the cup. Do we want the glory but not the price that comes with it? Peter and the other disciples gave up everything to follow Jesus. They were in it for the long haul. When the other disciples deserted Jesus because they couldn’t handle His teachings (John 6:60-69), Peter and the others stayed. They didn’t take off. Had this scribe joined Jesus’ ministry, at the first sign of trouble he would have flown the coup.
Jesus wants us to know what we are getting ourselves into. Remember He knows our hearts. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knew this scribe and that is why He made it clear to him what being one of His disciples entailed. Jesus’ was all about spiritual things not material things. He had no riches, no home. His ministry was supported by the donations of women. He got around on foot. Christianity is not about being popular or wearing fancy clothes or driving expensive cars or mansions. It is about reaching out to people and sharing the Gospel. Christ is the One who should be in the spotlight not the preacher or the church.
We don’t follow Jesus because it’s the popular thing to do. We follow Him because we believe in Him and what He did for us on the cross. We want to spend eternity with Him. Jesus doesn’t want us to be spontaneous when it comes to following Him like the scribe. He wants us to think it through, know what discipleship entails and make our decisions based on that. He wants us to come into this with our eyes wide open and not have preconceived notions of a glamorous life. We must be serious, not rash when it comes to the decision to follow Jesus.
One Bible commentary referred to the scribe as the Rash or Precipitate Disciple.
Few as there were of the scribes who attached themselves to Jesus, it would appear, from his calling Him Teacher, that this one was a “disciple” in that looser sense of the word in which it is applied to the crowds who flocked after Him, with more or less conviction that His claims were well founded. But from the answer which he received we are led to infer that there was more of transient emotion–of temporary impulse–than of intelligent principle in the speech. The preaching of Christ had riveted and charmed him; his heart had swelled; his enthusiasm had been kindled; and in this state of mind he will go anywhere with Him, and feels impelled to tell Him so.
“Wilt thou?” replies the Lord Jesus. “Knowest thou whom thou art pledging thyself to follow, and whither haply He may lead thee? No warm home, no downy pillow has He for thee: He has them not for Himself. The foxes are not without their holes, nor do the birds of the air lack their nests; but the Son of man has to depend on the hospitality of others, and borrow the pillow whereon He lays His head.”
How affecting is this reply! And yet He rejects not this man’s offer, nor refuses him the liberty to follow Him. Only He will have him know what he is doing, and “count the cost.” He will have him weigh well the real nature and the strength of his attachment, whether it be such as will abide in the day of trial. If so, he will be right welcome, for Christ puts none away. But it seems too plain that in this case that had not been done. And so we have called this the Rash or Precipitate Disciple.
It’s true. Jesus did not reject this man. He did not tell him that he couldn’t follow Him. All He did was let him know what the real deal was. It’s like the rich man who wanted to follow Jesus but when Jesus told Him what he would have to give up, the desire to become a disciple was gone. He chose his riches over Jesus. Jesus doesn’t reject us when we want to follow Him but He wants us to examine our motives.
When we look at the other disciples, we see people who were serious about following Jesus. Peter, Andrew, John and James left their families to join the ministry. Matthew left his job to follow Jesus and to top it off, he threw a banquet for Jesus and invited his friends so that they too could experience what it was life to meet Jesus.
Don’t be rash in your decision to follow Jesus. Think about it. Pray about it. Ask yourself tough questions.