Jesus told Peter and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (1) Then he found James and John, “and he called them.” (2) Later Jesus “found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’” (3) And then he saw Matthew “sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” (4) We also read where Jesus “called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles.” (5) Every one of these guys answered Jesus’ call to follow. We know all their names. 🙂
But there was one guy—actually one “of the disciples” (6)—who did not follow when he was called. Jesus told him “Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and . . .’’ (7) It really does not matter what his excuse was. The point is, is that he had one. 😕
But I think he believed in Jesus and his message. He might have heard the famous Sermon on the Mount. He probably witnessed Jesus healing the sick. He must have spent time with Jesus. He was, after all, one “of the disciples.” He just wasn’t ready to let Jesus change his life. And Jesus knew that about him—which is probably why he challenged him with “Follow me.” But his answer to Jesus was “Later.”
There are many who have answered Jesus’ call the same way: “Not now, Jesus. I have some things I need to do first, but definitely later I will follow you.” The problem is that “later” rarely comes. But these folks really do believe in Jesus—they just don’t want their lives to be changed by him. They think that following Jesus means giving up things. And they are right! But probably wrong about what those things are. 🧐
So, what’s the point here? Jesus said this about believing in him: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (8) Believing in Jesus takes care of eternal destiny, which is no small thing. But there’s more. Jesus said this about following him: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (9) Hmm. 🤔 That sounds much harder. And it is. It’s actually life changing. But most people would rather live their lives their own way. Here’s the result of that: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (10)
In other words, when we refuse to follow Jesus, we are “saving” our life—living life our way. The result? We will lose it in the end. And it will be a great waste of time. But if we “lose” our life for Jesus—give it up for him—our life will be saved! We will actually find the purpose for our life, the reason we were created. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (11)
It’s our choice though—following Jesus or simply believing in him. What was Jesus’ response to the disciple who told Jesus, “Later”? He told him to leave that excuse behind and challenged him to “go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (12) So, did he? Well . . .😕 since we never learn this guy’s name . . . I doubt it.
And that’s the problem with promising to follow later.
1) Matthew 4:19 2) Matthew 4:21 3) John 1:49 4) Mark 2:14 5) Luke 6:13 6) Matthew 8:21 7) Luke 9:59 8) John 3:16 9) Luke 9:23 10) Luke 9:24 11) Ephesians 2:10 12) Luke 9:60