“When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song,” tenor Luciano Pavarotti relates. “He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, ‘Shall I be a teacher or a singer?’
“‘Luciano,’ my father replied, ‘if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.’ “I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book–whatever we choose–we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that’s the key. Choose one chair.”
Commitment is also the key to becoming a dedicated disciple of Christ. Luke records Jesus’ interaction with three unnamed individuals that speak to the absolute importance of commitment to His cause.
Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, 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.”
Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (LK. 9:57-62)
Here Jesus points out three barriers that may obstruct our Christian walk and become roadblocks to totally following him.
(1) The uncounted cost (vs. 57-58).
Jesus wants only those who are truly converted. He says the way is not easy. Sometimes there is no rest for your weary head. There is a price to be paid. On another occasion Jesus expressed the cost of discipleship this way.
“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Lk. 14:27-31)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right when he wrote, “ Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.”
(2) The unburied corpse (vs 59-60).
Jesus is saying “Let those who are spiritually dead tend to burying the physically dead.” Yet Jesus response may sound rather demanding and difficult to a man who had lost his father.
However, the text didn’t say his father had died! If he had already died, would be not be making funeral arrangements? Or attending wake? Or participating in a funeral procession?
There was an old Eastern proverb that said , “When I have buried my father I will do so-and-so.” Very possibility this was a ruse and an excuse on his part.
Like the man in the text, some claim interest in following Jesus, but are preoccupied with the “corpses of this world.” With physical matters. Material interest. Worldly affairs. And use those who excuse themselves from dedicated discipleship.
(3) The unforsaken circle (vs. 61-62).
Following Jesus demands severing relationships that will impede our progress or hinder our Christian walk. Commitment to discipleship must come even before our family relationships.
Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
As Eliza Hewitt ask in her famous hymn:
Who will follow Jesus?
Who will make reply,
“I am on the Lord’s side;
Master, here am I”?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman