Now 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 disciples 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.”
This is a hard passage.
There’s no way around it. Jesus gives a serious word here, and it’s one I need to remember.
The truth is that we all want some of Jesus. Compassion. Healing. Words of Wisdom. The promise of free food. Jesus has something for everyone.
This is the tone with which these would be disciples approach Jesus. They’re looking to cash in on his momentum and share in the glory of whatever they think he’s got. Jesus sees through this and calls them out. His response is not a cold and insensitive dig at a man who’s just lost his father or an earnest seeker, it’s a reality check, the truth that following Jesus is not about getting something from him but giving up everything to gain him.
The man who wants to bury his father wants to follow Jesus on his own time. The scribe who wants to follow Jesus has the thought of some kind of glory in mind.
These two men represent all of us as we latch onto whichever part of Jesus suits us best. But as C.S. Lewis reminds us, our desires are much too small. We seek stuff from Jesus, the promise of success, solid community, obedient children, satisfying love lives, physical comfort, morality, but Jesus wants to give us more, so much more than all of this.
He wants to give us the world and even more still. He wants us to share in the glorious reign of God Himself. It will cost us everything we have, but it will mean the gain of everything else and more.
This is the gift of the Gospel, exposing worldly pleasures for the trinkets they are, and providing faith-filled seekers with the perfect presence of the glory of Jesus.