“Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, 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.’” Matthew 8:19–20
After the healing of the centurion’s servant Matthew next records that Jesus went to Peter’s house and there healed his mother in law of a fever. Mathew then tells us that multitudes of people flocked to Jesus, bringing their lame, sick and demon possessed and Jesus healed all their ailments.
At this time many were attracted to follow after Jesus, most for only a short period of time. It was common for the Jewish people to follow a teacher for a few days or weeks and after that return to their families and occupations. There were those, however, who were inclined to make following Jesus their life’s ambition.
Matthew describes a scribe coming to Jesus and and telling him, “Teacher, I’ll follow you were ever you go.”
Jesus must have seen that worldly ambition was the motivation driving this man. He must have thought that Jesus, like every other teacher he knew, was going to pursue authority, wealth and honor for himself, and he hoped to cash in on all the benefits that flowed to Jesus. He must have also hoped that Jesus might be the Messiah, and was therefore setting himself up to reap a bonanza of rewards when Christ ascended to his throne.
Jesus brought these thoughts and motivations to an end. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” was his answer to the scribes offer.
Another man came to Jesus convinced that he needed to follow him but requested that he be allowed to bury his father first. Now, the man’s father had not yet died. There were no funeral plans in process at that time. The man was actually requesting that he be permitted to delay following Jesus until after such a time as his father had died. The man was in reality placing a higher priority on the requirements of an earthly father over those of God.
“Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead,” was Jesus reply. Fulfill the purpose heaven has given you and let those who see nothing beyond this life take care of merely worldly concerns.
Far to often we devalue the importance and priority that the call of discipleship ought to have in our daily lives. We give ourselves, or first energy and or best effort, to fulfilling tasks and ambitions that have no meaning or purpose beyond this life while matters of eternity and salvation lie virtually neglected, getting only a token of the attention they deserve.
Disciples are called to give Christ their first and best effort. Each day we’ll learn better what that means but it all begins with the knowledge that Jesus is asking for our first and our best.