64% of all people say that before they purchase on item at a store, they window shop for it. Window shopping is when a customer looks at products they are interested in, without the intent of purchasing them. Now this is where it can get a little dangerous, because Jenn says that I’m not a good window-shopper. She says that I could walk into any store and find something to purchase.
Now this may or may not be true, but what I know is that there is one thing that stops me from purchasing an item regardless of how badly I want it: when there’s no price on the tag. I’m convinced that when a company doesn’t put a price on the tag, it’s for one reason: to get customers to pay more than something is worth. So, no matter how badly I want something, I won’t purchase it if there’s no price tag. I want to know the cost before I go through with the purchase.
Luke chapter 9 is full of stories of Jesus’s miracle-working power, but one of the messages that he delivers to the people seeing his miracles and hearing his teaching is that there’s a cost to following Jesus. In verses 23-24 Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it”.
Now Jesus isn’t being rude with these statements. Rather he is teaching those in the crowd the cost of following Him. Notice he says that “if any of you wants to be my follower”. Jesus never intended for the Kingdom of God to be for the select few. He extends the same invitation to all of us while explaining the cost.
If you jump down to the end of this chapter, Jesus goes into further detail on the cost of following Him. Luke 9:57 says, “As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And just like this person in scripture, many of us have that same intent. We want to follow God wherever He leads us. But just like we’re going to see through today’s scripture, many of us are unprepared or unwilling to count the cost of where God is leading us.
In verses 58-62, we see conversations with different people that speak to the cost of following Jesus. In each of these examples, Jesus illustrates a desire of people who want to be close to Him without a willingness to pay the price. To the person who said they would follow God wherever he goes, Jesus explains that foxes have dens to live in and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head. Meaning that if the person was to follow God, they must be willing to sacrifice the security of a home. That their natural desire for security would have to be second place to their desire to follow God.
In the second conversation, Jesus tells a person to come follow him. The scripture says that the man agrees to follow him but says he must first go back and bury his father. Jesus responds by saying, “Let the dead bury their own dead. Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” At first glance, this seems harsh of Jesus to say. The man was simply trying to fulfill the custom of looking after his parents, as was expected in that culture.
The third conversation takes place with a person telling Jesus that they would follow him, but that he must first say good-bye to his family. Jesus responded by saying, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” This is one of those scriptures that Christians don’t even like to read. You’re probably thinking, “Jesus can you even say that? The guy was just trying to do right by his family. How is he unfit for the Kingdom of God?”
Jesus’s phrasing seems confusing to the modern reader, but his audience would’ve understood what he meant because of their agricultural background. If a farmer were to put their hand to the plow and begin working, but then look back, his plow line would become crooked. This would cause the field that the farmer was working to not yield a full harvest. Jesus was warning the person of the cost of following him and the commitment it would require.
I’m reminded of the story when God commands Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor as prophet in 1 Kings 19. Elijah goes and finds Elisha in the field plowing with oxen. The scripture says that Elijah threw his cloak around Elisha to anoint him as the next prophet. At this moment, in the middle of a field plowing, Elisha lets go of the plow, leaves his oxen, and runs after Elijah. In fact, he burns his wooden plow and cooks the oxen over the fire to share the meat with his townspeople and then leaves to follow Elijah.
Today, many Christians want to be close to Jesus without the cost of following Him. Many people put their hand to this spiritual plow and then look back when following God gets difficult. Jesus says that if we want to be his followers, we must give up our own ways, take up our cross daily, and follow him. Today my prayer is that you would stand strong against the temptation to look back when you put your hand to the plow. That we would answer the call to follow God like Elisha did when he dropped everything he knew, trusted the call on his life, and followed after Elijah.