Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart to the other side.…
We have here two types of possible disciples of Christ. Each has its defects, though they are opposite in character.
I. THE HASTY DISCIPLE. One of the scribes, one of the official teachers of religion, is enraptured at what he sees of the gracious Galilaean ministry. He will follow Christ anywhere.
1. The scribe's offer. It is well that he is attracted to Christ. Being attracted, he naturally desires to follow the great Teacher and Healer, that he may ha always in his presence. No doubt he intends the following to be a genuine discipleship. He will sit at the Master's feet and devote himself to his service. Yet he is very hasty; he has not thought out his project; he does not know what it involves; therefore he cannot say whether he is prepared to be faithful to his promise. It is foolish to make a profession of devotion to Christ before we know what his service really is. There is much that is attractive in him, and in favourable moments our hearts are moved and go out to him. But all this may be like Ephraim's goodness, like the morning cloud, like the growth on the stony ground.
2. Christ's reply.
(1) The statement of a fact. Jesus was a poor Man, who had no home of his own; having abandoned the not very lucrative craft of a carpenter, he was dependent on the hospitality of the grateful. But he who lives on gratitude has a most uncertain livelihood. Yet Jesus humbled himself to this condition. Birds and foxes had more.
(2) A needful warning. The servant must be as his master. Christ's genuine disciples had forsaken all to follow him. Let us count the cost, for there will be cost in all Christian service. It is a dangerous sign if what we think to be the service of Christ brings us ease and affluence.
II. THE RELUCTANT DISCIPLE.
1. His call. The first disciple had not waited for the call of Christ. He had boldly volunteered for the service, and he had been taught a lesson of humility and reflection. But now Christ himself calls another disciple. This is clearly stated by St. Luke (Luke 9:59). When Christ calls, it is our part to respond at once. The case is now quite altered. Duty does not admit of any consideration of difficulty or danger.
2. His excuse. He would first go and bury his father. This seems to be a most natural excuse. The sacred duty of filial piety would appear to claim the man. Burials in the East follow quickly on death. At most the son would be away but a few hours. Then he would be free to follow Christ for the remainder of his days. How can we blame him? It may be said at once that if this were a true view of the case he would have been excused, and Christ would have been the first to sympathize with him. Therefore we must conclude either
(1) that he meant he wanted to wait for his father's death, or
(2) that he was simply quoting a proverb - as an excuse in his case for more delay. But to postpone our coming to Christ is to show want of true devotion to him.
3. His rebuke. Jesus saw through the hypocritical excuse. Yet he answered the man after his own style. He would postpone the service of Christ to secular interests. But the secular minded who are spiritually dead can attend to those affairs. Christ's claim is paramount. He is no true disciple who treats what is dearest to him in such a way as to make it a hindrance to his service of Christ. The most sacred home ties are snares when they interfere with our devotion to our Divine Lord. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.