Harder Than You Think
"As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'" Luke 9:57-58 (NIV)
When I was a high school wrestler and would travel to watch a college match, I was amazed at the atmosphere. The lighting was awesome, The wrestlers were all built, the crowds were big, and I thought, I want to be a college wrestler. Years later that wish became a reality, and I can tell you what spectators encounter at a two-hour wrestling match is only a fraction of what the college wrestling experience truly is. It involves unseen 5 am workouts, strict diets, bundling up in a ridiculous amount of clothes to sweat out 8 - 10 pounds of water weight, watching people eat Thanksgiving dinner, afternoon practices, and late-night runs after dinner. There is still more, but you get the point - and every former wrestler is smiling at this point.
Everyone wants to be part of the glory, but no one wants to do what it takes to get to that point. The same was true in Jesus' day. Everyone loved the miracles, crowds, attention and free dinners, but following Jesus had nothing to do with those things. Following Jesus then and now is a sacrifice. It's about denying self and serving Christ. It's about loving when we are tempted to hate, forgiving when everything in us wants to retaliate, It's about praying and spending time with Jesus in secret without desiring the praise of people for how spiritual you are. And all of this, so that individuals will come to experience the Salvation Jesus died to provide for them.
Jesus was letting the man who cried out, "I will follow you wherever..." understand that it's not what you think. He was helping him and many others who would say similar things (check out the next four verses - 59 - 62) grasp the reality that being a disciple is hard. He was teaching them that what the crowds were witnessing, was a small fraction of what following Jesus was about.
Jesus doesn't want to you follow Him, because of some of the perceived benefits, He wants you to follow Him because you have experienced the life change He gives, and your heart now desires to serve and obey Him no matter the consequences. No matter who acknowledges, agrees, disagrees, cheers, or makes fun of you. Follow Jesus because He is worthy to be followed. It isn't easy or even popular, but it is worth it!