The Cost of Discipleship - 2
August 30, 2020
Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:21-22).
Note the difference in this encounter with Jesus. In the previous encounter it was a Scribe that came to Jesus. Scribes were, for the most part, hostile toward Jesus. They often approached Jesus in order to argue with, or entrap Him. Here it is a ‘disciple’ that approached Jesus. This disciple was not one of the original 12, but a ‘learner’, someone in the crowd that followed Jesus. In fact, Jesus had not yet called the 12 men that would be His immediate disciples.
The request of this man seemed reasonable. He showed respect for his parents, which the 5th Commandment required. According to the Rabbis, caring for one’s parents was one of the first duties of religion. But Jesus saw in his situation the possibility of him not returning if he was permitted to go. So He commanded the man to perform the more important duty of attending to his own salvation even at the risk of the apparent neglect of his other duties.
Man’s first responsibility is his salvation. Everything else is subordinate to that. Luke 14:26, If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. To ‘hate’ does not mean to despise or detest. It is a strong word in the Greek only because it emphasizes the difficulty in choosing between the lesser and the greater, between what is better and what is best. Jesus made it clear we are to honor our parents (Matthew 15:4), just as the 5th Commandment does, but it is subordinate to Commandments 1-4, which is to honor God above all else.
The point is there is nothing more important in life than one’s salvation. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall (2 Peter 1:10). There is room in one’s Christianity to include other duties in life, but they are not superior this. When the Holy Spirit calls the soul to salvation, that becomes the priority above and beyond everything else in life.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for calling me to salvation. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who drew me to You through the ministry of my father and mother and those pastors and teachers who opened my eyes to the truth of Your Word. Thank You that You gave me the gifts of grace and faith to believe in You, to trust in You, and to commit my life to You as my Lord and Savior. Keep my heart sensitive to the need of others for salvation, that I may introduce them to You as I was introduced to You by others so many years ago. To Your honor and praise, Amen.”