Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” -Matthew 8:21–22
Like the scribe, this second man disappears from the record after approaching Jesus. Evidently the Lord’s discipleship demands were too strict and the appeal of discipleship vanished (cf. Matt. 19:16–22). Christ’s instruction to follow Him simply means, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).
The Lord Jesus always made it clear that commitment must be complete or not at all. Consider this:
I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. (Matt. 10:34–38)
This is not speaking of Christian service but of salvation. God won’t save anyone who comes to him with strings attached.
People have long admired Christ for His authority, moral teaching, ethical standards, love and healing, even His deity. But in spite of all that, they have failed to submit themselves to Him. J. C. Ryle has written, “The saddest road to hell is the one that runs under the pulpit, past the Bible, and through the middle of warnings and invitations.”
How have you suffered rejection and disdain for your Christian faith? What would still be lacking in your life if you had the acceptance of others but not the acceptance of Christ?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.