To follow the Lord we must first count the cost. A half-hearted devotion to the Lord does not escape his scrutiny. He knows whether we want the best of both worlds or worst, waste our talents, our energy, our time on ourselves and give him second best. Where is our heart? What really dominates our thinking? Is Christ only good for the leftovers?

Luke graphically illustrates the need for an honest appraisal of our preparedness to follow our Lord by describing the exchange between the Lord and the scribe (Luke 9:57). A scribe (perhaps conscious of his stature) professed not just to follow Jesus but more—“whithersoever thou goest”. But could he go where Jesus went, suffering great deprivations (v58)? Jesus was born in a borrowed crib, he was laid to rest in a borrowed garden tomb and in 33 short years he enjoyed none of our lifestyle, our creature comforts. The scribe made a bold promise. Was he put off by Jesus’ reply? Possibly. Let us remember that the Lord by any measure was a poor man, yet he could feel at home with us, but only if our material possessions mean little to us, if there is a common single-minded devotion to God and to His Word—that’s got to be the common values between us and our Lord.

Luke again confirms the urgent setting of priorities in our discipleship. One would-be follower pleaded that he “first” be allowed to bury his father. He wasn’t one who could “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”. It would seem from the Lord’s reaction that this was more than one day’s burial: probably many days and business affairs to settle with family and relatives. Therefore the Lord could emphasise the need to “go and preach the Kingdom of God” (v60). This is not advice. It is a decisive command in the right direction—as we would say, “Go on; get going; preach the Kingdom of God”. Far too often we procrastinate, coming up with all sorts of excuses—when we should get on with following Christ, preaching his gospel, and other things will find their rightful place.

Another person came with conditions—“let me first bid them farewell” (v61). This doesn’t sound like a farewell to wife or family or parents. This man could well have social commitments and ties, which verse 62 hints may be a constant cause for looking back—“No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Like Lot’s wife looking back to family, yet more to the lifestyle of city life, this man is entangled. Yet, if we are honest, how often could we say, “Lord, I will follow thee, but…”. These are life or death issues, for time and life is precious. Are we going to squander it on non-essentials? Or are we going to look back, like Israel looking back to Egypt, glossing over the slavery to sin and imagining that a former life of ignorance, of suffering, was better than being one of Christ’s disciples.

No, let us not be double minded, or doubting that we ever made the right decision. We must press on, hand to the plough, looking to the Kingdom and like Abraham, not being mindful of that country which he left. He died in faith. He saw the promises afar off, he was persuaded of them, embraced them, confessed that he was a stranger and a pilgrim declaring plainly that he was seeking a country—God’s land. He didn’t look back. He was fit for the Kingdom of God.

We must count the cost. Do we really deny self, take up the cross and follow our Lord, without the “I will, but first I must.…” We are running a race to eternal life. Maybe we’re lumbering along with so many weights, so many cares of this life, like running in a raincoat and heavy rubber boots! Maybe in following our Lord and being his disciples we need to get rid of some excess baggage—to clean up our lives and get on with the essentials and be ready to meet the Lord face to face. He will assess with awesome accuracy just where our life’s interests lie. What are we going to do about it, now! Face hardship. Preach the gospel! Forget the past! Brethren and sisters, we know what we must do!

“Under Whose Wings Thou art Come to Trust”

To follow our Lord is more than following at a distance. It is no fleeting short-term trust. Ruth the Moabitess was praised by Boaz, “Yahweh recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of Yahweh God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (Ruth 2:12). A stranger in a strange land, Ruth took refuge under the providential care of the God of Israel. Her great-grandson David shared that same trust and confidence (Psa 61:1–4; 63:7,8). This is a fixed resolve to follow “hard after Yahweh”. It is fleeing for shelter under the shadow of a great high rock.

Now in these days of turmoil and distress of nations, we need to follow hard after our God in a determination to seek His protection and care upon us and upon our children. We need to gather our families about us, drawing close to one another and reassuring each other that our God will not fail us nor forsake us as we enter into these perilous last days. What lies ahead? A time of trouble such as we’ve not seen for a long, long time. Men, women and children shocked, dismayed, distressed over the calamities that sweep over the earth. These are fierce, perplexing days when the support structure of our western lifestyle is precariously tottering on the brink. Far from worrying about investments, we need to invest our lives in God’s safe keeping and put our households on high alert for the coming of the Lord.

“These are They which Follow the Lamb”

Let us look to the end of our journey with the Lord as the Lamb of God leading and guiding us into the Kingdom. Revelation chapter 14 portrays the Lamb upon Mount Zion surrounded by a happy, rejoicing band of the redeemed. These are those of chapter 5:9,10 who surround the Lamb and who had been slain and exalt the joy and wonder of his victory, singing with immortal fervor the songs of deliverance, feeling the wonder of forgiveness, the thrill of salvation. These are lifted up forever above all human weakness and feel the power of God’s spirit energising them for evermore and are at one with the Father, the Son and with each other. These are the ransomed of Yahweh who shall return to the city of their desire and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. How we will reach deep down into our hearts and express our wonder and praise that our Lord first loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. What a privilege it will be to be co-rulers with him and with the called and chosen out of every kindred, tongue, people and nation! We will be clad in white raiment washed in the blood of the Lamb, hungering no more, thirsting no more, feeling no more distress, for the Lamb in the midst of the sheepfold will shepherd us. There we shall find rest, at last, in the green pastures and beside the still waters where we shall find rest for our souls.

“These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth” (Rev 14:4). Look where our sojourneying ends! Forever with our Lord. As his bride, forever at his side. We, the living, are washed and clean and have one desire—to follow the Lamb—wherever he leads us. So we keep close to him. Never take your eyes off him, hearkening to his voice and taking heed to his commandments. If we maintain our purity and remain as devout virgins betrothed to Christ, not being corrupted by the defilements of the apostate Church or of a morally corrupt world, then, with those who overcome, we have in prospect a “crown of life” and joy of redemption that far surpasses anything that this world can offer. Let no man, woman or anything take that crown away from us. It is not so important that we are in the Truth but that the Truth is in us. If the Truth is to be anything, it must be everything. In all ages, men will assess Christ, not so much by his precepts, as by the lives of men and women they know who profess to be his disciples.

Surely it is our fervent prayer that the solemn partaking of symbols of the Lord’s sacrifice may encourage us to go on following our Lord and to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. We share a very precious hope and fellowship in Christ. We want to be in that joyous company who sing: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing”; for then shall all of creation sing, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”