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In today’s Bible reading, Jesus tells us that following Him isn’t easy. A religious leader – a scribe – came to Jesus, saying he would follow Him wherever He went. Jesus simply responded that He didn’t have a place to call home. (Matthew 8:1-20) We don’t hear anything else about this Scribe. It would be fair to speculate that he chose to not follow Jesus. Luke’s version of this story (Luke 9:57–62) is almost identical; he doesn’t say anything further about this scribe.

Who were the scribes? “By the time of the New Testament, scribes wielded significant power throughout Israel and were routinely found among the ranks of the Sanhedrin. They served as the copyists of the law—a duty which also involved interpreting it. For this reason, some translations refer to them as teachers of the law. When the law did not speak to a specific case, the scribes created precedent.”[1]

We don’t know if this particular scribe was trying to entrap Jesus. Perhaps he wanted to spy on Jesus and His disciples. We don’t know, but that’s plausible; it wouldn’t be the first – or last – time one of the religious leaders tried it. Or perhaps he thought he was being sincere.

Next, someone told Jesus he wanted to follow Him, but needed to go bury his father. Jesus responded, “Let the dead bury their dead.” (Matthew 8:22-23)

In both cases, Jesus denied the person requesting a special place as one of his Disciples. “But that doesn’t sound very much like Jesus,” you might say. “Jesus didn’t refuse anyone who wanted to follow Him.” No, that’s not what the Bible tells us. In fact, Luke records Jesus saying, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62 (CSB) And remember my last devotional, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 (CSB)

No, not everyone who comes to Jesus gets to follow Him to heaven.

Application

I assume that you want to follow Jesus. You want to be like Him. But not everyone who wants to follow Jesus can or does. Look back my previous devotional post. Have you counted the cost?

In the immediate context of these verses, Jesus says that if you want to follow Him, you may not find a place to rest; it may cost you many luxuries in life. And it may even cost you relationships with family members and friends. In fact, it may even cost your life.

Oh, but it’s worth it. Jesus is worth it all!

Addition 4/17/19

A friend added this image to his blog. The quote is from Hudson Taylor and very appropriate to this devotional.

[1] Loken, Israel P. “Scribes.” Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016. Print.

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