It is hard to agree with this article just from its title. How come Jesus refused to admit some people who wanted to walk with Him As His Apostles? He is the saviour of the world, how could he reject those who wanted to be in His inner cycle? Was it a form of discrimination? What about the volunteers? Most companies want volunteers so that they can minimise on cost. Why is Christ then rejecting volunteers and beneficiaries of His miraculous healings? Well, here is a Biblical account where a beneficiary was rejected:
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. NIV Mark 5:18-20
What about volunteers? Is there a case where volunteers had to be disappointed? Well, see this:
Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” NKJV Luke 9:57-58
While the volunteer seemingly had it rough, some were called, but gave excuses and could not give the call the urgency it required. So why had it to be this way?
Indebtedness Creates Sycophants, not Disciples.
A Sycophant defined, is a servile self seeking flatterer. Sycophants do not question what their master or idol says. They follow everything the master has said without thinking. A leader who has a lot of sycophants may presume that he is a great leader, for even when he is messing, the sycophants will still be praising him and declaring his decisions as solomonic. Christ knew His mission very well and what kind of team He needed in His inner circle. To those he had healed like the Gerasene demoniac, or the man born blind, He bid them go and tell others their story and experience, though they would want to travel with Him and be part of the team. These people were genuine and sincere in their desire to join the Apostles, but they were doing it as an appreciation for the ‘goodies’ they had received, just like a well fed crowd followed Jesus across the Sea. They were thanking Him for His merciful kindness unto them. Nevertheless, their desire was not granted as they wished, but in a different way. They had to go through the pain of finding their own crowd and sharing about Jesus Christ. He was not to allow them to swim in the currents of the wave He attracted, no, they had to do it in a sacrificial way. All the Apostles of Christ, had to sacrifice a few things in order to follow Him. Matthew Levi, had to close his tax booth in order to follow Him. Peter and Andrew had to leave their fishing nets and boats so as to follow Him. Barnabas had his land sold before committing Himself to be an Apostle. One similarity about all the Apostles, is in the fact that they had to cut off links with their source of livelihood before committing themselves to the task. They burned all the bridges that could connect them to their comfort zones. If by chance they changed their mind, they had nothing else to go back to. There was no back up plan, but their only option was to do the work given them. In losing Christ, they could have lost all. Christ wanted men who shared His mission and vision statement. We are called to follow Him because we believe in His mission, and if we accept the call, we must burn the bridges that can lead us back to the comfort zone. If our commitment to Christ has not taken us to a place where we can only depend on Him, then we are mere sycophants!
One challenge that Christ had to deal with, even among the Apostles, is a motive mismatch. Even the twelve, seemed not to understand His mission. Wrong teachings, sustained by misinterpretation of prophecies and the desire to be loosed from the Roman yoke, made the Jewish Nation to expect a temporal Messiah, who would free them from being vassals to the emperor of Rome. This is why the Sons of Thunder wanted the right wing and the left wing upon His throne. This is why a debate on who was greatest among them, was not a missing piece in their discourses. If the disciples themselves had a temporal Kingdom in mind, it could be worse among the rest of the people. No wonder Christ made a seemingly unkind statement to a volunteer, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
In this statement, Christ made Himself clear. “Foxes are doing better than me. The birds of the air are having a gorgeous time in their suspended nests. I don’t even have a place to lay my head. If you expect something to solve your economic problems, my Ministry could be the worst option.” If our motive differs from the motive of Christ—seeking and saving the lost—then we are not the kind of people needed in the team. It is a recipe for disappointment. There is no room for a goodie goodie religion with Christ.
Crossless Religion is Worse than No Religion
The demands of following Christ often get at loggerheads with our natural desires. We want to be popular, but His message is that you will be hated by all men,for my name’s sake. We want to be rich in temporal possessions but He calls us to store our treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor pest can destroy. We want to be respected, but like Peter, people seem to be saying, “He is one with Him” thus appointing us for nothing better than He was treated. We want to be crowned, but people seem to be saying, “Away with him”.
Chist does not hide all this to us. His appeal is very clear:
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. NKJV Luke 9:23-24
The greatest curse to Christianity is a crossless religion. People want to fit the requirements of God into their natural desires and traditions. So we accept Christ, but we don’t accept His counsel on how to worship, how to conduct our Romantic affairs, how to conduct our families, businesses et cetera.
We must get reorganised in order to thrive well in the Ministry of Christ. If we can’t carry our own cross and follow him, then even if we volunteer, there is no space for us.
Many would be followers of Christ if He would come down from the cross and appear to them in such a manner as they desire. If He would come with riches and pleasure, many would receive Him gladly and would be in haste to crown Him Lord of all. If He would only lay aside His humiliation and sufferings and cry, “If any man will come after Me, let him please himself and enjoy the world and he shall be My disciple,” multitudes would believe in Him. But the blessed Jesus will come to us in no other character than the meek and lowly Crucified One. We must partake of His self-denial and suffering here if we would take the crown hereafter…. The Word of God has not widened the narrow way, and if the multitude have found a path where they can wear a form of godliness and not bear the cross or suffer tribulation, they have found a way where our Saviour did not walk and they follow another example than that which Christ set before us. Is it not enough that Jesus left the felicity and glory of heaven, endured a life of poverty and deep affliction, and died a cruel, shameful death to provide for us the joys of holiness and heaven? And can it be that we, the worthless objects of so great a condescension and love, will seek after a better portion in this life than was given to our Redeemer? How easy would be the way to heaven if there was no self-denial or cross! How worldlings would rush in the way, and hypocrites would travel in it without numbers! Thank God for the cross, the self-denial. The ignominy and shame our Saviour endured for us is none too humiliating for those saved by the purchase of His blood. Heaven will indeed be cheap enough.—Our High Calling p. 288