A Messiah Who Costs Everything – Matthew 8:18-22

“Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead.”

Subsequent to Matthew’s report of three healing miracles in chapter 8, he includes the brief stories of two quite different men with dissimilar levels of interest in following Jesus. The insertion of instruction on discipleship into the miracle narratives points to the fact that faith in Jesus must be united with discipleship. Jesus did something deeper than heal – He made disciples. A string of accounts about healings with no teaching in between, might give the impression that Christ and His church’s main mission is the social ministry of healing, comfort and consolation. While this certainly is one occupation of the body of Christ in society, this function flows out of the central objective of being and making disciples. This does not mean that we abandon physical concerns, as Jesus did not abandon the physical needs of people; but like Jesus, we are to reach beneath the physical need to it source.

First we read of a zealous scholar who makes a remarkable, resolute, ready, and unreserved offer to follow Jesus wherever he goes. The only thing more remarkable was Jesus’ response to him, which seems to be opposite from what we might expect from someone recruiting followers. He tells the man, “the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head;” whatever one thinks of this reply, it is far from an enthusiastic exhortation for the man to follow.

In contrast to the zealous scholar, a second man, “a timid son,” expresses a less-than-enthusiastic desire to follow Jesus, after he first buries his father. At first sight this appears to be a very legitimate priority; and that’s the point – that NOTHING – even the most legitimate of matters – ought to take priority over following Jesus. Rather than discouraging him, Jesus summons this timid son with a strong exhortation to forsake his familial obligation and follow Him.

There is something deeply significant in both of Jesus’ replies; they show us that people who desire to follow Jesus ought to be warned plainly to count the cost before they begin to follow. In our day, thousands of church members are never warned of the cost, perhaps out of fear of scaring away potential disciples. Nothing has done more harm to the church than the practice of filling our pews with professors who have joined our ranks under a false pretense of glory without a cross. The cost of discipleship must be included in our presentation of the gospel. Let us keep nothing back from new believers; let us tell them plainly of the glorious destination; but no less plainly of the cross they must bear on the way.


One thought on “A Messiah Who Costs Everything – Matthew 8:18-22


    I don’t profess to have more than a rudimentary understanding of what our Lord and Savior meant by His following comments, but I do know that His thoughts about what it means to be a disciple of His are far different than the thoughts of the health, wealth, prosperity, or easy believism gospels. Also many ministries that fall short of these extremes, still teach that if someone comes to Jesus all their “worldly” needs will be met and they will at a minimum be granted favor with this world. Oddly, many preach and teach many of Jesus sayings, but ignore the more fundamental ones noted here. These sayings of sacrifice, hardship, and turmoil are not isolated comments, but are the main theme of Jesus’ thoughts on who is worthy of Him and by extension, who are His sheep and who He shepherds. Mankind and even most of the professing church have invented a Jesus that “needs us” and is waiting to serve us and who simply and lovingly wants us to be happy and prosperous through whatever means is necessary, although they don’t normally phrase it this way. They tell us that Jesus wants to serve us by providing for all of our perceived needs and we can judge His love by the things He provides for us. Spiritual warfare to them is anything that deprives them of favor with the world or material provisions. How different is that from the gospel that was preached by our Lord and by those who wrote down the God breathed scripture? When Jesus commented on the priority and necessity of wealth, clothing and food, He told His disciples to not think as the gentiles (pagans) thought, but to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and those things would be added to them.

    Matthew 6:25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

    These false prophets teach us the only thing He requires from us is some type of affirmation and a desire to formulate some level of purpose in our lives. If Jesus loves us, all will be rosy and we can pretty much have the best of this world and then be assured of having the best of eternity. We should just do the best we can, seek unity, harmony and peace with all men regardless of whether they honor our Lord or not. Just ask someone who believes that Jesus does not demand our total surrender, what does He require for us to be saved. They will undoubtedly say, He requires a belief and an affirmation that He is their Savior. By logical extension then, anyone who practices sin, to include pedophiles, murderers, et al, are saved if they affirm that Jesus is their Savior. Just think about that for a moment, anyone! Now, that makes absolutely no sense. It is actually one step down from baptismal regeneration, which is even rejected by them. Shame on those who evangelize in this manner. They are leading many down the broad road that leads to destruction. Who were those who called Him Lord, but He said “Depart from Me because I never knew you”? If Jesus said He is the good shepherd, then who is He leading except of course those that are following Him? Is anyone really willing to say that the eternal Son of God is shepherding a flock that is not following Him?

    I believe that Jesus meant every word He said concerning those the Father draws and gives to His Son. Many have tried to parse Jesus’ comments to say some can be applied to the church, but others were only for the Jewish community who were still under the law or for those with a special calling. We do this at our own peril.

    These verses mean to me that anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord, must be willing to experience all of these sacrifices and hardships in their own lives. If anyone withholds or refuses to surrender all to Jesus, then He will not surrender Himself to them. While it is clear that not all suffer equally and not all are called to sacrifice equally, it is also crystal clear that it is the willing that are given eternal life. Jesus knows our hearts and those He has come to know will enter His kingdom. All others, He will say, depart from Me you who practice lawlessness, I never knew you. Does any of this take away from salvation by grace without even the hint of a work? The answer is absolutely not. Jesus asks us to surrender our sinful lives and our sinful fleshly desires. What value does either of these things have? The answer is of course nothing. Jesus has simply said that we must give Him things that are antithetical to our new natures in Him and things that are antithetical to Him. These things have no value and if we even imagine that surrendering our lives to Him can in any way pay for or merit His favor or forgiveness then we have missed the point entirely. When God saves us in Christ, He will give us a heart that understands that what we surrender to Him is for our benefits, not His.

    It is similar to the concept of giving to God financial offerings. Job 41:11“Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine. Since God owns everything did we increase God’s wealth when we gave to Him? The answer is of course not. We give because He has told us to do this, not because He needs some type of financial assistance to accomplish His purposes. If we desire to live for ourselves and the pleasures we had before He saved us, then that would make absolutely no sense and we would have to conclude that Jesus saved us from our sins, but at the same time allows us to live in our sins. He would therefore be allowing us to serve Him and to serve Satan at the same time. Does that make sense? No, if we love Him it is because He first loved us and if He first loved us, then our love will lead us to keep His commandments and to surrender all to Him. He does not love us because we “first” loved Him. 1 John 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. If we believe that keeping His commandments or surrendering our lives to Him in some way justifies us and makes us worthy of Him, we are sadly mistaken. It is God’s free gift and grace that gives us the desire to surrender all to Him. If we don’t feel He is telling us to do this, then we don’t belong to Him or we are spiritually very confused. The difference is in the heart of man. The heart that has been sanctified by grace gives to the Lord out of gratitude that follows conversion. The heart of works based salvation hasn’t been changed or is confused and thinks that some type of outward manifestation or work justifies himself before a holy God. Simply said the truth lies behind why someone does something, not that he does something. If we do something to earn or maintain our salvation, then we are in some sense paying for it. This should be clear to even the most confused of hearts. This would then have the effect of telling God that His sacrifice while efficacious was not quite efficacious enough and needed additional payment by us. The saved heart says, “Lord I have nothing of value to offer You and even if I did I would have no strength to offer it, so just take what You will”; the unsaved heart says, “Lord You are a hard man and not only demanded Your Son’s death, but also payment from me”.

    So Lord, I now surrender everything I have that really amounts to nothing to demonstrate my love and trust in You. When You died for me on the cross, You purchased me and everything I have or will have, amen. See the below verses:

    He requires that we forfeit our very lives for His sake and the gospel’s sake.

    Luke 17:33. “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

    Mark 8:35. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

    He requires that we deny ourselves on a daily basis and take up his cross on a daily ongoing basis.

    Luke 9:23. And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

    Matthew 10:38. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

    He says that we must love Him more than our own families and that the gospel will result in unrest and division between even those we love.

    Matthew 10:34. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35. “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; 36. and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. 37. “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.

    Micah 7:6 For son treats father contemptuously,
    Daughter rises up against her mother,
    Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
    A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.

    Luke 11:27. While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” 28. But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

    Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

    Matthew 8:22. But Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

    He demands all of our worldly possessions be offered and available to Him.

    Mark 10:21. Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

    Matthew 8:20. Jesus *said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

    Luke 14:33. “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

    Matthew 6:21. for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. AMEN.

    He says we will be hated by men because of Him. People will persecute us and says evil untrue things against us because of our relationship to Him.

    Matthew 5:11. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

    Matthew 10:22. “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

    John 15:20. “Remember the word that I said to you, `A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

    He demands that we accept ridicule from men and suffer being humiliated for the sake of the gospel. The worldly rightness of our position is never the issue.

    Matthew 5:39. “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

    Matthew 5:41. “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

    The clear fact that Jesus offered Himself only to those who would surrender all to Him should not be ignored. This surrendering is not a human endeavor or work, but a work of the Holy Spirit on our hearts and minds. If He offered Himself for less, then scripture is silent regarding this lesser commitment. Satan wanted Jesus to prove Himself by using His power to nourish and enrich Himself and to tempt God. Of course He refused to do this, because to do so would have stated that it was okay for man to improperly associate God’s power with self-interest. He also refused to pay homage to Satan in any way even when Satan promised Him the entire world. All these temptations of Christ should be viewed as examples to us. Those who wish to follow Jesus must be willing to surrender all to Him, not in just some type of empty profession, but from their hearts. Those who do so, will be given much more in this lifetime and in the lifetime to come. Matthew 13:45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. But whatever Jesus gives us in this lifetime will be given to those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Remember when Jesus’ disciples were overjoyed because of the power He had given them over demons and the sick? Jesus quickly reminded them that they should only rejoice over the fact their names were written in the book of life. Jesus truly demands and deserves the full surrender of our lives, relationships, sins, desires, hopes, finances, and anything else we deem to be valuable. But Jesus’ demands are our desires since He is in fact our Lord and Savior and the one who redeemed us from the law of sin and death. If our desires are not the same as His demands, then how can we belong to Him and pretend to serve Him? Notice how the Apostle Paul considered his pedigree or better said his morals and religiosity compared to salvation through Christ; he simply set them aside and considered them rubbish. He not only surrendered all to Christ, but he did it in a willful, thoughtful, resolute and final manner!

    Philippians 3:3. for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
    4. although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
    5. circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
    6. as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
    7. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
    8. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
    9. and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
    10. that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
    11. in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

    He has no interest in those who have reinvented Him to gain fame or fortune; even under the guise of evangelism. He also rejects those who intentionally think they can call upon His name and choose to serve Satan at the same time. Seeker friendly, word/faith, positive confession, kingdom now, latter day rain, the emergent church, the non-lordship salvation crowd who make empty affirmations, and all others who preach and teach a Savior that wants to serve us but does not require or demand that in order for Him to lead and guide us, we must first surrender all to Him and follow Him, are preaching “another” gospel. And, even with that offering, many will suffer tremendously for the honor of serving and proclaiming Him to the world. The only “seed” offering that has meaning to Him, is the total surrender of everything we possess or value. To even think that we can purchase favor with God or barter with Him in some way is silliness indeed. I am amazed at how easily they have captured the hearts of the lost and the confused. They simply appeal to our fleshly natures and of course our fleshly natures crave the empty promises they offer. They preach the favor of God can be obtained by secret knowledge, formulas, by agreeing with their false prophesies, and by other vain spiritual exercises. They condemn loving the world and then offer the world and the unsuspecting don’t even realize what is taking place. When Satan offered the world to Jesus, he of course was lying. When he offered Eve godlike status apart from God’s commands, he was of course lying. I have often thought that if Satan could convince the world that macro-evolution was possible, he could convince them of anything. I was right and these false gospels and reinventing of Christ is simply another lie of equal proportion. Our God is in secret and He sees in secret and blesses those whose hearts are surrendered to Him. The spirit of Simon the magician is alive and well and all we have to do to confirm that is turn on our televisions. Evangelism is the professed goal, but if a false gospel is being evangelized, then what does it profit a man if he gains the entire world but forfeits his soul. My dear friends, repentance and faith leading to total surrender are not afterthoughts; they are the true gospel. How do we know this? Because Jesus and His apostles demanded nothing less. None of these things justify us, but all of these things show that we have been justified!

    Jesus said that He has come to give us life and that more abundantly. John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. But notice He also says that the life He gives us cannot be measured by our possessions. Luke 12:15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” As we surrender all to Him, He promises to give us abundantly more in this lifetime and the next. Now even a child should understand that whatever Jesus means, it must be contrasted with the demands and reality that He associates with those who belong to Him. However scripture does give us clues as to what the God’s kingdom on this earth consists of. Romans 14:17, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in Galatians that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us is abundance means absolutely nothing unless it consists of the fruits associated with Him. Notice, riches, fame, notoriety, success, ease of life, etc., are never mentioned as part of the abundant life. If we have absolutely nothing of this world and have the fruits of the Spirit then we indeed have an abundant life.

    Jesus is never confused and knows our hearts fully and completely. We either belong to Him or we don’t; He will either say, “come enter into My kingdom”, or He will declare, “depart from Me, I never knew you”. 2 Timothy 2:19. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Matthew 7:23. “And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ What kind of God and Savior have you invented to meet and suit your needs and desires? My God and Savior wants us to offer to Him the “everything” that amounts to nothing, to inherit the everything that is truly “everything”. I personally thank Him that His only agenda was to save sinners and then offer them spiritual abundance to the extent they seek and follow Him. Whatever sacrifice He might cause us to undergo is nothing compared to the inheritance He has promised to those who are saved by grace through faith. And, to testify to us that we indeed belong to Him, we have been given new hearts that desire to serve Him and desire to put to death the deeds of our bodies.

    John 10:10. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

    Luke 12:15. Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

    Matthew 19:29. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.

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