What do you think you will get from following Jesus? BE careful. There is a dangerous false teaching out there that would say to people that, if you just trust Jesus enough, your life will get easy. These false teachers suggest to you that you will find health, wealth, and success. They suggest that, after all, if you become a Christian, you become a son or daughter of the King, a prince or princess of the Lord. But they are selling a false gospel to you.
It is not a new thing to see people attempt to latch onto Jesus with the hope of success and prosperity in the here and now. In fact, I think we see such a thing in Matthew 8.
Matthew 8:19-20 – 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 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.”
This is a really brief encounter, so we cannot say too much for certain. But I think we can make a couple of assumptions that paint the picture for us. The man who approached Jesus was a scribe. He was a religious person whose job it was to write. And he said that he would follow Jesus anywhere. It seems, then, that this man is offering Jesus is services.
Stop and ask why this man would come to Jesus to say that he would follow him. It could be that this man was genuinely convicted to believe in Jesus, to love him, and to follow him. But, were that the case, I think Jesus’ response to him would have been different. My best guess is that this man actually was trying to go with Jesus out of a desire for personal gain. Why do I say that? Jesus responded to this man by pointing out that there was not going to be a cushy destination at the end of this road.
My assessment is that this man wanted to get in on the early stages of Jesus’ ministry. He may have thought to himself that, as a scribe, if he got in on the ground floor of this ministry, he would be in a great spot once Jesus finally reached his destination. Perhaps he thought that Jesus was destined to be a big and important Pharisee. Perhaps he saw that Jesus is Messiah, but he assumed that meant that Jesus would establish a physical, earthly kingdom in Jerusalem. In either case, being the number one scribe for this man would be a great position.
Jesus shatters this man’s illusions when he simply tells him that there is no place they are going. Jesus has no home. The Savior was, in fact, more homeless than foxes and birds. He traveled. HE spoke. He gave. And Jesus would end his earthly ministry, not in the temple, not in a palace, but on a cross leading to a borrowed tomb.
It is possible that I’m misunderstanding what the scribe was saying. But I know these two things. First, Jesus’ response to him indicates that Jesus saw this man as looking for earthly comfort and stability which he would not receive following Jesus. Second, we have no reason to believe that this scribe followed Jesus. And so I think I have the picture pretty close to correct.
For you and me today, there is a lesson. Christianity is not and has never been something to jump into so that you can have a nice, soft, easy life. Jesus did not promise that. Yes, there have been times in history when, for a brief season, it is easier to live in a society as a believer. But, honestly, such periods of history are not as long and not as regular as you might think. And, throughout history, when a society has embraced the faith in some form, this has often led to corruption in the church, compromise in doctrine, and sinful greed as people pretended to follow Jesus in order to gain political power. We want to follow Jesus. WE want people to be saved. And, as people are saved, societies will be transformed. But, when the transformation is more political than spiritual, the transformation is something other than Christianity.
No, dear friends, do not think that following Jesus grants you health, wealth, and prosperity. The Savior promised that following him would bring you persecution and hardship in the here and now. Jesus told the scribe that he was homeless, and to follow him would make the scribe lose earthly stability. The reason to follow Jesus is not earthly comfort for this life. The reason to follow Jesus is that Jesus is God. Jesus is your only hope of salvation. Jesus is your only hope of lasting joy. And, of course, Jesus grants us an eternal future that is far greater than any hardships we may suffer in our eighty or so years of life on this earth.