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Follow Me” / “Let Me First


“The first duty of man is religion (Christianity), and everything else should be made subordinate to that.” – Barnes’ Notes


“Many are hindered from and in the way of serious godliness, by an overconcern for their families and relations; these lawful things undo us all, and our duty to God is neglected, and postponed, under colour of discharging our debts to the world; here therefore we have need to double our guard.”


“…we must comparatively neglect and disesteem our nearest relations, when they come in competition with Christ, and either our doing for Him, or our suffering for Him.”


         both quotes are from Matthew Henry


There were two men in the Bible who received the call from Jesus to be one of His disciples. One day, He called out to them with these words – “Follow Me” (Luke 9:59).


What was their response?


Surprisingly, they both gave the same response – “Let me first…”


Here is how the account is recorded in Luke’s Gospel – “And He said unto another, Follow Me. But He said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-62).


“…Follow Me…”

“…Lord, suffer me first…”


 “…Follow Me…”

“…Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first…”


These men would be classified as casual disciples. Do you know of any that exist today? Are you one of them?


Casual disciples are those who give probable reasons why they cannot be active disciples. They hesitate at first and yield afterwards. They are overcautious…too slow in performing…always delaying in execution…leaving that to be done tomorrow which could be done today. They resolve to follow Christ but beg a day.


The first man’s father was most likely still alive. He was getting up in years. Hence, this son reasoned with Jesus to allow him to go and attend on his father until his death. This way, he would have performed all the necessary duties to him.  


This seemed like a reasonable request, wouldn’t you say? After all, the Scriptures do admonish all to – “Honor thy father and thy mother…” (Exodus 20:12). And the Jews had a maxim among them that said that if a man had any duty to perform to the dead, for that time, he was free from the observance of any other precept or duty.


Jesus called this man to – “preach the kingdom of God.” Notice that he didn’t refuse the call. He simply excused it for the present time to take care of something he felt was more important – that is, taking care of his father until his death.


Unlike the Jews’ maxim that allowed a death in the family to relinquish all other obligations,  Jesus’ call into the ministry did not free him to do as he pleased. There was a grave danger in giving this man permission to go and attend to his father’s needs. The danger was that he would never return to Christ.


What Jesus was attempting to communicate to this man was that the duty of attending to the salvation of his soul was far greater than attending to any other. Other duties had to be neglected for this one.  


The second volunteer in the crowd that day was like the first one. He, too, had something that was to come first before – “following Jesus.” He requested permission to go home and set in order his household affairs. He desired to give final instructions to his friends and servants. Then, in due time, he would serve the Lord.


This man actually looked upon following Jesus as a melancholy, troublesome, and dangerous thing. He acted as though he was about to die – while taking leave of his friends and never being able to see them ever again in this life. Actually, what he was doing was exposing his own heart by this response. Worldly concerns had a definite grip on him. He hankered after relations and family concerns and couldn’t easily and suitably part with them.


Jesus knew that - if this man returned to his friends and relations - he would be influenced by their love and persuasions not to return. The worldly enjoyments in which he was involved would most assuredly be the means of stifling the good desires he was feeling at the moment and also altering his resolution to walk with Him.


Interestingly enough, in the book of Haggai, we find a group of people just like these two casual disciples. It is important to note that Jehovah God – “the LORD of hosts” – the Lord of the powers of heaven and earth – did not refer to these people as His own. Rather, He addressed them as “This people”“Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built” (Haggai 1:2).  God considered these people to be sluggish and selfish. They looked upon the troubles, expenses, and danger of their enemies rather than going on with the work of the Lord. Their indifference caused them to look for every imaginable excuse why they couldn’t continue onward in this work – it was not the time in God’s Providence…they had been forbidden and hindered in former reigns…it was a time of famine and distress…and this was not a fit or convenient time.


Read the command of Jesus once again coupled with the excuses - 


“…Follow Me…”

“…Lord, suffer me first…”


 “…Follow Me…”

“…Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first…”


“…Follow Me…”

“The time is not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built”


Now, let’s take one “rock” – one Scripture from God’s Holy Word – that will definitely smash every imaginable excuse for delaying in doing the Lord’s work. It is found in Matthew 6:33 and says – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”


Christianity is to be your business. It is to be the sum and substance of your whole duty. Heaven is to be your end and holiness your way. You are to aim at the Kingdom of God…seek for the things of Christ more than your own things…and let the care for your soul take place over all other cares.


God is saying to man – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness…”


Man is saying to God – “…Lord, suffer me first…”“…Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first…” “The time is not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”


What are you saying to God?


We leave you with the words of Matthew Henry which say – “An unwilling mind never wants(lacks) an excuse.”


Are you willing or unwilling to follow Christ?


May God Bless His Word.