The Cost of Following Jesus (Matthew 8:18–22) - Radical

The Cost of Following Jesus (Matthew 8:18–22)

“When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side and a scribe came up 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.” Another of the disciple 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 8:18–22

This interaction with these two guys is humbling, to say the least, and it almost seems like Jesus is trying to talk these guys out of following him. They’re eager saying, “We’ll follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus looks back at both of them and challenges them to count the cost before following.

Jesus calls every follower to live with unconditional trust and undivided affection for Him.

Matthew 8:18–22 Reminds Us That There Are no Guarantees in This World When Following Christ

This first guy, says in Matthew 8:18–22, “You follow me,” you’re not even guaranteed a roof over your head. “If you follow me,” Jesus is saying, “I’m all you’ve got.” Jesus is making clear here he is worthy of unconditional trust. You may lose everything in this world. You may not be guaranteed a roof over your head. In that moment, will Jesus be enough for you? Does he have all your trust? And the second guy … Does Jesus have all of your affection? This picture of undivided affection. This disciple says, “I need to go back and bury my father.” And there’s a lot of discussion about this meaning in the text. Does this mean the man just wants to give his father a proper funeral or is there more here?

These Verses Remind Us to Put God’s Will First

Some think this involved getting an inheritance from his father first before following Jesus. But regardless, Jesus says, “Leave him behind and follow me.” More important than honoring your father or receiving an inheritance from your father. You follow Jesus. To follow him means to give him undivided affection. So, obviously, we know, from the whole of scripture, that Jesus doesn’t call everyone of his followers to not have a home. And he doesn’t call everyone of his followers to leave family behind. But, he does call every single one of us to live with unconditional trust in him. An undivided affection for him.

Prayer: God, Help Us Give You Our Undivided Affection

So, let’s pray for that in our lives. God, we hear these words from Jesus to potential followers and they are humbling to us as followers of Jesus, as children of yours. Lord, we want to trust you completely, knowing that as we follow you, we may not be guaranteed many things in this world, but as long as we have you, you will be enough for us, that you are sufficient for us. Lord, we pray for unconditional trust in our hearts. Please, keep us from holding too tightly to things in this world in ways that cause us to trust in those things, instead of trusting in you. And the same for people and relationships in this world. God, we pray that you would help us to follow you with undivided affection, with supreme love for you.

I think about brothers and sisters around the world who … when they do come to know Christ, they are forsaken by their family, their father or mother kicks them out of their house, never to be seen again. Lord, please strengthen them and help us all, we pray, to live with that kind of affection for you that would, if necessary, forsake even the closest relationships in this world because of love for you, desire for you, obedience to you. Lord, help us to give you unconditional trust and undivided affection today. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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