18 And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. 19 Then a certain scribe came 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.” 21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18–22, NKJV)
What price do you pay for following Jesus? When Jesus gave a command to His followers that He would leave Capernaum to cross the sea of Galilee, the scribe said he would follow Jesus “wherever You go.” We hope that he did. Jesus told him clearly that following Him would require sacrifice. It is easy to follow Jesus when no sacrifice is needed. But, when push comes to shove, and sacrifice becomes necessary, do you follow Him then? What about when there is a pressing need in your life? What priority informs and persuades your decision then? Jesus emphasized the proper priority when He said, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” Jesus must have first place in our decision-making process. We cannot say we will follow Jesus but then refuse to sacrifice to do so. We cannot say we will follow Jesus but then refuse to make following Him our top priority. Our everyday choices reveal both our sacrifice and our priority when it comes to following Jesus.
25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:25–27, NKJV)
These people had seen Jesus miraculously feed five thousand souls the day before, from only five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:1-14). The next day they had traveled around the Sea of Galilee to find Him. They had not followed Jesus out of faith in Him as the Messiah. They were driven by their bellies to seek another meal. Why are you following Jesus? Is it out of faith or convenience? Jesus can give you spiritual food that produces everlasting life, but you must have faith in Him to follow Him according to His will. The Father endorsed Jesus by the miracles He worked. Be sure you are following Jesus for the right reason – for everlasting life – and not to fill a self-serving interest.
“After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.” (Luke 5:27–28, NKJV)
Just like He saw Levi (Matthew), Jesus observes us going about our daily business. He sees and knows where we are putting our attention, our energy, and our goals each day. Like us, Levi was doing his job (which happened to be collecting taxes). Jesus fixed His gaze on this tax collector and said, “be following me” (Lenski, 307). Whatever job you are doing, Jesus calls you to be following Him. He must be your priority above all else. Levi undoubtedly experienced financial loss when he followed Jesus – which he did without hesitation. Do you have that resolve? Are you prepared to follow Jesus, whatever it costs you? Faith compels us to do what Jesus says. We cannot legitimately claim to have sufficient faith in Jesus without readily doing what He says. Jesus acknowledged this when He asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)? Resolve to be like Levi. Jesus is calling you. Be following Him.
38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:38–39, NKJV)
Jesus had just explained that following Him will bring conflict into your life (Matthew 10:34-36). Even family members will oppose you when you follow Jesus. Yet, we must still love Jesus more than family. This is a cross we must bear to be worthy of Christ. Compromising His truth for the sake of peace with family makes one unworthy of being His disciple (Matthew 10:37). Indeed, whenever we put our own life (our interests, desires and pleasure) before doing the will of Christ, we will lose it. Only when we surrender all for the sake of Christ will we have life. Following Jesus first and always brings eternal life; following ourselves always bring eternal death (Proverbs 14:12). Living by faith requires that we bear whatever burden must be borne to be true to Christ. When compared to the burden of sin, this burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:66–68, NKJV)
It is estimated the average person hears about 30,000 words a day, or almost 11 million words a year. That’s a lot of words! Of those words, how many contain the information, insight and instruction needed to obtain eternal life? Unless one is listening to the words of Jesus Christ (His New Testament), then the answer is “zero.” When all is said and done, only the word of God can feed our souls and give us eternal life. Are you listening? Or, have you stopped listening to the words of Christ, and walked away from Jesus? If so, you are on the path that leads to death. The only one we can turn to for words of eternal life is Jesus. Do not leave Him. Draw ever closer to Him and take receive from Him the words of eternal life.
23 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” 26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:23–26, NKJV)
Some expect life to be smooth sailing once they start following Jesus. But, when we follow Jesus into the boat of life we can expect choppy seas and storms that challenge our faith. The disciples’ “little faith” was on display as they fearfully forgot that the Lord who could save them was also in the boat with them. They forgot to trust the presence and power of the Lord. As a disciple of Jesus, always remember not to fear the circumstances you face or those who bring tumult and turmoil into your life. The Lord who calmed the sea is the same Lord who will never fail you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5-6). So, set your sails and follow Jesus; Trust and obey His word. Do not be fearful; be ever faithful.
59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60)
Many might find what Jesus says here offensive, as He did not care for the dead and those grieving their demise. That is not true, and would be a gross misrepresentation of Jesus (see Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus in John 11:17-37). The man Jesus called to follow Him said he would, but “first” he wanted to bury his father. A noble endeavor, yet one that drew attention to the priorities this man (and everyone since) must have to truly follow Jesus wherever He goes. Jesus commanded him to “go and preach the kingdom of God”, and that took precedence over everything else. Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness calls us to live the priorities of our faith, not reduce their significance based on other important activities. Nothing is as important as following Jesus. What is most important to you; Your wants and desires, or following Jesus first?
57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 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.” (Luke 9:57-58)
One’s willingness to follow Jesus requires submitting to Him as Lord (Master), plus trusting that He will always lead you where you should go (Jno. 8:12). Additionally, following Jesus requires sacrifice. There is a cost that must be paid to follow the Lord. Jesus lived a life of hardship, rejection and painful self-sacrifice. We must not expect different. Following Jesus wherever He goes demands sacrificing oneself by always surrendering your will for His.
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22)
What are you willing to leave to follow Jesus? Fishermen Peter and Andrew left their nets and immediately followed Jesus when He called them. James and John immediately left their work, their boat and their father to follow Jesus when He called them. In another place it says these four men “forsook all and followed Him” (Lk. 5:11). Following Jesus requires immediate, complete sacrifice. Will you sacrifice anything to follow the One who sacrificed everything for you?
25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:25-27)
Why are you following Jesus? These people followed Him because they ate the miraculous food He provided the multitude from five barley loaves and two small fish (Jno. 6:9-14). The next day, Jesus focused on their motive for following Him around the Sea of Galilee, and it was not a pretty picture. They had a selfish reason for following Jesus: They wanted more food! But, when Jesus offered them Himself as “the bread of God” who “comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” they became increasingly disinterested. Eventually, many stopped following Him (Jno. 6:33-66). Jesus wants you to follow Him because of your faith in Him as the Son of God and as the only One who can satisfy your hunger for salvation. Follow Jesus because He is “the bread of life”. He alone can fill your soul with God’s mercy, forgiveness and eternal life.