Life, Not Death




One of the most fruitless things I think I do as a parent is give my kids time-warnings, like, “Ok, we’ll be leaving after 5 more minutes of playing,” or “You’re allowed 10 more minutes of TV, and then we need to eat dinner.” My kids are 6 and 3, and neither one has a great concept of time. (My daughter will ask how long it takes to drive somewhere, I’ll answer an hour, and she’ll say, “Is that long?” I have to refrain from responding snarkily with, “It’s as long as an hour is.”) The whole idea behind parents starting to do this was to lessen the blow of having to stop the fun, managing expectations and giving the child time to prepare. And as with many things in our human attempts, it usually just makes things more difficult, not better. But Jesus actually did the same type of thing with his followers. And as with all other things, he gets it right where we go wrong. In Matthew 8:18-22 we see a man eagerly asking to follow Jesus. In typical Jesus fashion, he doesn’t answer the way we’d expect, and he essentially says, “It won’t be easy.. Are you sure you’re up for it?” Next, we see this: 21 Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead. (NLT)


Ouch.



In my blog post, “Read to Know Basis,” I described a way of studying the Bible that helps us get to know who Jesus is. Doing this sets us on a path to falling more in love with him. I learned from the “Paying Ridiculous Attention to Jesus” podcast (season 3 episode 23) that we tend to progress as follows:

  1. Get to know Jesus

  2. Love Jesus

  3. Follow Jesus

  4. Become like Jesus

  5. Become yourself


So in my Bible study group, we’ve tried to utilize this progression by picking scripture and asking these questions:


  • What happened?

  • Your first reaction?

  • How does this apply to Jesus-followers?

  • What does this tell you about Jesus?


For this story, I understand it best in The Message translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson. (Eugene translated “The Message” directly from the Greek. It is a unique telling because he focused less on direct word-for-word translating and more on capturing the intended tone of voice and nuances that we may otherwise have missed.) He titled this story, “Your Business is Life, Not Death.”



18-19 When Jesus saw that a curious crowd was growing by the minute, he told his disciples to get him out of there to the other side of the lake. As they left, a religion scholar asked if he could go along. “I’ll go with you, wherever,” he said.

20 Jesus was curt: “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.”

21 Another follower said, “Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father’s funeral to take care of.”

22 Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.” Matthew 8:18-22 MSG

Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life. Matthew 8:22 MSG Click To Tweet

What happened?

Jesus is warning his disciples of the cost of following him.


Your first reaction?

I think I’d be pretty shocked if Jesus said this to me, mostly his response to the man asking to bury his father. He isn’t telling us we’re spiritually dead just because we bury our dead. So what is he saying here?



How does this apply to Jesus-followers?

Jesus wants to manage his followers expectations, in a way. He is telling them they will not have a place to call home, which puts them lesser than even animals who have dens and nests. He wants us to focus on our mission, even if it means humbling ourselves and not expecting to live in constant comfort. As far as not going home to bury the father, Jesus wants us to place our value in Heaven, not on worldly issues. He wants us to understand that following him means sacrifice. It means potentially losing some things we hold dear, but it also means gaining much, much more.


Jesus wants us to place our value in Heaven, not on worldly issues. He wants us to understand that following him means sacrifice. It means potentially losing some things we hold dear, but it also means gaining much, much more. Click To Tweet

What does this tell you about Jesus?

Jesus has a laser focus on his mission and doesn’t have time to waste on earthly rituals like burying the dead. Though we know Jesus values the details in our lives along with our sorrows, when it came to following him, he wanted to weed out the half-hearted. He needed the fully committed. He places value in us giving up things for him, risking for him, and sacrificing for him. He wants us to understand that this means likely living much differently than other earthly peers.




When we enter into a relationship with Jesus, he wants us to go in knowing that it means things are inevitably going to change in our lives. Following him doesn’t mean adding a cross necklace to our attire and calling it a day. It means allowing him into our hearts so that he can dig out the weeds and sow the seeds that will eventually bloom into a beautiful garden. He wants us to know this before going all in because as any gardener knows, maintaining a garden is not a one-and-done job. It takes continual maintenance, some seasons requiring invasive interventions like digging, pruning, fertilizing, scarifying, and cultivating. In other words, if following him has changed nothing in your life besides your Sunday schedule, you’re doing it wrong, and your garden will never flourish. So where do we start? Start by fervently seeking to know him. Seek to know him and allow Jesus to do the gardening. The tricky part is, we look at “allow” as a passive verb. But in this case, it is very much an action term. Allowing Jesus to change us means noticing where he is working, and actively stepping out of his way to allow him to do it.

If following Jesus has changed nothing in your life besides your Sunday schedule, you’re doing it wrong, and your garden will never flourish. Click To Tweet

  • Would you say you allow Jesus into your life for him to cultivate and do his work? Where has he been working on you the most lately?

  • What areas of your life do you try to cling to, hoping he leaves it alone?

  • If you hesitate allowing any change, Jesus says to you, “Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.” How do you respond to him?











A.j. is a wife and SAHM, an eager follower of Jesus, and a chronically loud-laugher. She loves finding new ways to look at the Bible, in hopes to grow closer to Jesus and to find fresh ways to learn and teach others.


**This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


#garden #gardener #flower #spring #cultivate #sowseeds #matthew8 #Jesus #faith #Christianblog #life #transformation #Jesusfollower #payingridiculousattentiontojesus #podcast #themessage #EugenePeterson #gratefulsheepblog

  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon

©2019 by Grateful Sheep. Proudly created with Wix.com