The Cost of Following Jesus
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
I was thinking about “what is a disciple?” for many years in India. What is a disciple in today’s time?
Three Idiots (famous Indian movie)
The three characters in the best engineering college in India were portrayed as idiots, but actually geniuses.
Today’s message also shows 3 idiots. How were they idiots?
Today’s discipleship is distorted.
In India, we don’t use the word Christian – because it has many negative images.
- Loves alcohol
- Immoral person
We use the word “Believer” or “Disciple”
Last year, I went to a prayer mtn in Gyeongi-do. He was preaching “How to be rich” say what? should we do that? Be rich?
That MIGHT be a sign of God’s blessing, but not the life’s goal, nor the character of a disciple.
Think about the meaning of “discipleship” in today’s time.
IDIOT #1 (v. 57-58)
Jesus and his disciples wandered around everywhere and this guy said, “Hey, I’ll follow you ANYwhere!” He seems to be full of conviction, and a good would-be disciple. He seems to have good courage. But Jesus said, “I’ve got no place to lay my head.”
Jesus saw that he had a romanticized notion of being a disciple “Wow, we can TRAVEL! So many places! With many friends!” He thought that Jesus was really popular and interesting and he could be popular and interesting too!
Many years ago, someone said, “Missionary Lee, I want to fly to many countries like you.” I wanted to say, “I actually hate flying, for MANY reasons…” He was a member of my supporting church, so I could only laugh at him.
Flying = money, (with children = double), no money = suffering for many days.
The life of a missionary has many practical difficulties.
The Son of Man doesn’t have a place to lay his head. After 20 years in India, we are still looking for a place to say.
People say, “Wow! Your son has a cool university overseas! Cool!” Yes, this is a true blessing, but my son went to a boarding school when he was 12 – he’s still in a foreign country in a foreign place. Even though his education is blessed, he is lonely, has pain in his heart. When a middle-schooler, he ran all the time. He said, “If I didn’t run all the time, I would be crazy with loneliness.”
Without considering ALL the real difficulties of a missionary’s life, you can’t be one.
This world doesn’t welcome disciples because the world is wicked and adulterous. Jesus often said, “This world is a wicked and adulterous generation.” Even though you want to be honest, the world doesn’t encourage it. Even though you want to be generous, the world encourages competition and greed.
Many Indians think that “anybody can be a Christian for his own reasons, by his own choice.” One day, in New Delhi, I encouraged a family to be baptized, but they weren’t willing to do so. But this was strange because they had served the Lord for a long time. One man who baptized someone else got lots of money and became rich.
To become a Christian doesn’t mean being a member of a premium club. It means taking up your own cross and following Jesus through difficulty.
- Follower – Jesus = life goal
- Learner – Learn what to think, how to act from Jesus
- Doer – supposed to do Jesus’ work – what he did, what he does, what he wants done.
Jesus commanded us to follow him and gave us an example to follow. “The Son of Man didn’t come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.” He was even crucified willingly on the cross for our sins.
If we truly want to follow Jesus, don’t romanticize the notion of it – this is REAL, this is HARD, this is a PROCESS – take up your cross and follow him. But the love of Jesus helps us overcome the pain of the cross. Because of his love, we were able to serve him for 20 years in India. Many times, I thought I would give up, but he helped me endure.
IDIOT #2 (v. 59-60)
He had the privilege to be invited as a disciple – what a blessing! But he said, “Wait a second Jesus.”
The problem was the matter of priorities.
His priority was his family. He wanted first to do his duty as a son. He wanted to serve his family. It is good to serve your family – but he wanted to serve his family FIRST. He wanted to bury his father and receive his inheritance.
The matter of priority is very important. Don’t neglect your family for the “noble cause” of God’s kingdom. JUST, have a high priority for the kingdom of God. For this reason, let us follow Jesus’ comment that being his disciple includes a price.
One friend of mine went to Mongolia as a missionary. He saw an Austrian couple who’d served there for many years in the country with no fruit. Why? The main reason = the family enjoyed family time 7-9pm everyday. BUT this is a very important time for ministry. Of course, family time is very important, but in Mongolia, 7-9pm is the only time that you can visit Mongolian families. He tried to visit at other times, but they were never available at that time.
For a few years, my friend made many good visits during this time, and he started a local church. He sacrificed THAT family time, and made a good impact for the church.
BUT, remember that many Koreans actually serve TOO much. Their families are neglected and they have mental weakness and pain. Is it OK to neglect your family like this for the “noble cause” of the kingdom of God? This is not an easy question. But remember, Jesus said, “Proclaim the kingdom of God” not “proclaim your kingdom.”
In fact, many church people are “busy” with “work” for their OWN kingdoms. (They actually aren’t interested in the kingdom of God – just friendships, networking, entertaining, getting respect, etc).
Many missionaries serve in India with a business VISA, so they must do some kind of business. One of my friend’s has a Korean restaurant in New Delhi. He is being successful in his business, but doesn’t have time for ministry. He wonders, “Am I really a missionary?”
Another friend sold carpets for his VISA. He became successful as a businessman and he decided to quit the missionary work and go to the US as a businessman.
A true disciple of Jesus must pay the price for the kingdom of GOD. It can be financial, physical, mental. But, remember, our hope is not in this world, but in the heavenly kingdom, which is eternal.
IDIOT #3 (v. 61-62)
This request seems simple. “Let me say ‘buh-bye!’ to my family.” But actually, Jesus realized he was looking BACK. His inner heart was BACK, not AHEAD. His heart was “worldly man” not “disciple.”
If you look back after putting your hand to the plow, all your work will be disturbed. All your life will be disturbed and destroyed.
- The most important thing for a disciple = OBEY! NOW!
- Immediate obedience = RADICAL discipleship.
They obeyed God, not the person. Yes, a person can be a delegate from God, so we may also need to obey a person. I also teach this to my disciples in India. Many of them obey my word, but I must remember to obey God.
One man in India, Sanjay, was not obedient at first, so I was annoyed. One day, we went to a village course to train the villagers. He was so excited just to be in a new place that he didn’t listen to me and I was very annoyed. So I just kept quiet and prayed. At 5am, I woke up and prayed and pastor Sanjay came in and held my feet suddenly. “Forgive me!” Last night, he saw a dream and on his feet was a stone. “Why don’t you obey missionary Bright?” He was trembling all night and asked my forgiveness in the morning.
God was teaching him about obedience. Without obedience, you CANNOT be a good disciple nor a good pastor. Now, he is very responsible, so I give him the greatest responsibility when I travel.
Several years ago, God asked me to do cooperative work with Indian and Korean pastors. R727 was launched. It is a joint ministry for church planting in North India. Initially, many people didn’t understand this ministry. Very few people joined the ministry, but God blessed it for the last 3-4 years, and it has begun to have a good result and lots of fruit in many places.
At first, many people didn’t notice this ministry. But these days, many people phone in and say, “Hey, can I join with you guys now?” I say, “Hmm, let me think about it.”
To OBEY IMMEDIATELY is a sign of true disipleship. If you OBEY, God works wonders in your life.
There are three things that God shows in the Bible about disipleship:
- Reality of the cross
- True Obedience
I hope and pray that we all can become good disciples of Jesus and change the world with the power of God.