We see what appears to be a harsh statement from Jesus in Matt. 8:22, but the question is, “Is it?” This section of scripture appears to be dealing with 2 distinct opposite views of discipleship.
The first is one who hasn’t counted the cost of following Jesus. Jesus informs him that the cost will be high. The scribe says
“I will follow you wherever you go - Matt. 8:19.”
But Jesus lets him know that this will not be glamorous. Even Peter found out how hard this could be when he said that he would follow Jesus even to death, only to deny Jesus 3 times.
The second is of someone who wants to go and bury his father. Seems like a reasonable request. But through reading commentaries, this could mean many things. Maybe the man wanted to just bury his father, but more than likely he was at least looking to
“postpone discipleship until after a funeral and the mandatory months of mourning that followed. Quite possibly he was saying much more: the expression may well have been an idiom for let me wait until my father is dead.”Bloomberg, C 1992 Matthew vol. 22, P. 147
So one wants to jump into discipleship without counting the cost, and the other wants to postpone it, possibly indefinitely. Jesus wants them, and us to think it through and make a decision.
DA Carson observes that,
“little has done more to harm the witness of the Christian church than the practice of filling its ranks with every volunteer who is willing to make a little profession, talk fluently of experience, but display little of perseverance.”Carson, DA When Jesus Confronts p. 43
Lord, help us to be wholeheartedly committed to You. Let us count the cost, as well as Your expectations of obedience, in light of the price You paid for us, and let us be proper witnesses for You!