“Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head’” (Luke 9:58 [NIV]).
I don’t know about you, but my reaction the first few times I read this verse was, “What in the world is Jesus talking about?” It’s one of those verses where you just want to say, “C’mon Jesus, just say whatever it is you really mean already!” But when we study the context of the verse, we find out more about what Jesus is saying. He and others were walking along a road when a man suddenly declared that he would follow Jesus “wherever he would go” (v. 57). Many of us would love to receive that kind of support from others. Then again, we don’t know the hearts of people like Jesus did. Instead of allowing himself to become overjoyed simply by a person’s verbal declaration, Jesus challenged the man because he knew that was what was best for the man. Within the same passage, Jesus gave similar challenges to two more men who wanted to follow Jesus but only with certain conditions. Jesus knew that in order for these people to be true disciples, they had to be completely aware of the cost.
Recently, I read one of the best letters to the editor I have ever seen in the local newspaper. It was in regards to the recent massive media effort known as “Kony 2012”. The purpose of the effort, which has included YouTube videos and many other media outlets, is to bring awareness to the evil actions of Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. With more awareness, the end goal is to kill or capture Mr. Kony. The letter to the editor I referenced was by a man who identified himself as the friend of a Marine. The writer stated that his friend had made the statement that people need to “count the cost” before jumping on board and supporting the effort to bring down Mr. Kony. He wrote that getting Mr. Kony can and will be done, but it won’t come without great cost. Good, young men and women will likely have to give their lives in the effort because Mr. Kony will resist. And the Marine’s point was that those who are calling for Mr. Kony’s head do not then have the right to complain about the cost, be it financially or physically in terms of the suffering and sacrifice of the lives of those who engage the enemy. The Marine and the writer simply wanted to urge the readers to think about the sacrifice that will be required before declaring their support based on emotion alone.
This is what Jesus is doing in the passage referenced above. His point was that he was essentially homeless. While others saw him as a great teacher who had the power to do miracles and assumed that would bring him and anyone else with him glory, Jesus knew that the true reward was not in this lifetime, but the next. He knew that being his disciple requires “denying oneself, taking up one’s cross daily, and following him” (Luke 9:23). Now, not everyone is asked to be crucified in obedience to the Father, but not everyone is not asked it either. Double negatives aside, hopefully you get my point. Whether we are asked to sacrifice a little bit of the abundance God has blessed us with or whether we are asked to suffer and give our very lives, the cost of discipleship that we must assess ahead of time is the same for all. Since we don’t know ahead of time what will be required of us, we must understand the cost to be a willingness to give up anything and everything out of obedience to the Father if or when He asks it of us. In this way, we are true “learners” of Jesus Christ, who gave up everything when his Father asked. Because of his obedience, he “overcame and sat down with his Father on his throne” so that we might also be able to overcome and earn the “right to sit with Christ on his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
So have you count the cost? Are you ready to follow Christ no matter what? Friends, Jesus count the cost and was willing to do what God was calling Him to do. Are you? Are you using the gifts and talents God has given to you for His glory or for your own?
Obey God's leading or disobey. The choice is up to you.