Doug Batchelor - Walking with the Lord
Well friends, I'd like to have you go to the Gospel of Luke. We're going to be talking about following the Lord. Chapter 9, verse 57, there's a passage where several individuals come to Jesus with the intention of following Him. I'm going to read this and then we'll back up and we'll talk about it a little bit. "Now it happened as they journeyed on the road," Jesus is going down 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.' And then He said to another, 'Follow Me.' But he said, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' And Jesus answered to him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom.' Then another said, 'Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell that are at my house.' And Jesus said to him, 'No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom.'"
So here we have three vignettes, little scenarios of people who were invited to follow Jesus. One actually invites himself to follow the Lord. And Jesus is trying to tell us what's involved and what kind of commitment it is in following Him.
And I remember hearing about a lady that she called the police department and she said, "What shall I do? I opened the basement and there's a skunk in the basement. How do I get them out?" Policeman said, "You know, we can't take care of every call like this. I just recommend that you get a loaf of bread, take a piece of bread, curl up a bunch of crumbs, put the crumbs of bread on the steps, and place them in dots on outside and the skunk then, you know, will follow the pieces of bread outside." In a couple of hours, she called back the police and she said, "I've now got two skunks in my basement." I guess another skunk outside found the trail of crumbs before the one in the basement found them and followed in the wrong direction.
Well, you know, sometimes that happens even to believers. We follow in reverse. You can read about that happening to one of Jesus's most faithful followers. You remember when Jesus called Peter, He said, "Follow Me." Peter was willing to leave everything right then and there and follow Jesus. But Jesus warned Peter, "Now, your following is not consistent." And you can read about this in the Bible if you go to Mark chapter 14, "Peter followed Him at a distance, and he went into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat down with the servants," servants of the priest who is now trying Christ. He sat down and mingled with the enemies of Jesus and he warmed himself at their fire.
You know, a lot of Christians get into trouble because we try to follow Jesus from a distance. We don't want to get too close because we might get ridiculed. And we start hanging out with the world and we act like the world because we know it's very unpopular to be a Christian. Peter was somewhat affected by the crowd. When the crowd was hailing Jesus, Peter wanted to be right at Christ's side, and so did James and John. And when He was working miracles, then the disciples were hovering around and they wanted to be His bodyguard. But the Bible tells us that at the cross they stood afar off.
At the trial, they all forsook Him and fled. Peter, he loved the Lord so he did want to follow, but he followed from a distance. And they kept saying, "Aren't you one of His disciples?" "I don't know what you're talking about." He tried to ignore the question. And finally the third time, still in Mark 14, and you can read in verse 69, "A little later those that stood by said to Peter again, 'Surely you're one of them, for you're a Galilean, your speech,'" your accent, "'shows it.'"
Now, this time he realized he's exposed and he tries to just prove that he wasn't a follower of Jesus by going back into his old vocabulary as a lost sailor. Now, Peter was a pretty rough character. Even when he first came to Christ, he knelt down at Jesus's feet and said, "Lord, depart from me. You don't know I am a sinful man," and he was. And Peter drew on all those old curse words he knew and he began to swear, and to curse, and to say, "I don't know the man of whom you speak," blankety, blank, blank, blank. And then the rooster crowed. And you read in the gospel, it says he went out and he wept bitterly. Some of us have wept before because we said, "Lord, I love You. I want to follow You," but we're trying to do it from a distance.
You know, the Bible tells us that John follow Jesus right into the judgment hall. John did not deny Jesus because he did not try to hide that he loved Jesus. If anything wonderful could come from this revival, something I would pray for would be that those that say they're Christians would really follow Jesus.
What is a Christian? A Christian is the follower of the teachings, and the life, and the example of Christ. The Bible says He has given us an example that we should walk in this wicked world, even as He walked; that we should follow in His steps. Christians should try to imitate Christ, have the character of Christ to reflect to the world what Jesus is like, to live out His teachings and share His teachings. That's what it means to be a follower. It means the self-denial, the humility, the commitment of Jesus, the love for the Father.
Now, going back to some of the vignettes that we started with, I want you to notice it says followers of Jesus here on Earth have no earthly security. You remember what He said? "Lord, I'll follow You wherever You go," and Jesus said, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." Some people realize when they follow the Lord that it might mean they could be unpopular. It might mean they could lose their job, which could threaten their house, and they say, "You know, I can't afford to follow Jesus. It costs too much." Jesus said, "If you're following Me because you think there's earthly gain, don't follow me."
I'll tell you, I've yelled at my TV a few times because I scan sometimes through Christian programs and I hear these prosperity preachers say, "Oh, if you just follow Jesus, you're going to get your new house, and you're going to get healed, and you're going to get your pick up truck, and you're going to have money, and all your debts will be paid."
And they act like following Jesus means you're supposed to get rich, when Christ actually teaches the opposite. It might cost you to follow Him. And Jesus said, Look, if you're following Me because you think you're going to get an earthly palace, "I don't even have anywhere to lay My head." Jesus didn't have much in the world to call His own except His robe, and they gambled for that when He died. And so if you're following Jesus for earthly gain, you're going to be disappointed.
Another point, followers of Jesus point two, they have no earthly ties. Not only no earthly security, we don't have any earthly ties. Remember that other man said, "Lord, I'll follow You, but I first need to go bury my father." Now, it's okay if you're a Christian to go to the funeral of your father. In this story, the man is saying, "I can't follow You because, You know, my father's getting old. I probably need to wait, hang around till he dies and take care of affairs." And Jesus said, "You know, as long as you're going to find excuses like that and you put other people first, you're never going to follow Me." He realized that Jesus even left His own home when He went out teaching. Jesus had a mother. Joseph was probably dead, but Jesus said, "I've got to put the kingdom of God first."
You cannot put somebody else ahead of Christ. No earthly human tie can come between you and Jesus. Jesus must be first. Let me give you, I know this is tough. This is what Jesus said. Matthew 10:37: "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." Here today, we've got a handful of people. I've got my wife I love. I've got one of my sons I love. I love them, but you know, I can't love them more than God.
What would you love more, the giver or the gift? If someone gives you a gift, is it right to love the gift more than the giver? Everybody that you love in your life is a gift from God. It's not right to love the gift more than the giver. You need to love God first.
I knew a dear lady that she accepted the truth, she came to church, but she was real sporadic in her attendance. And I talked her, she said, "Oh pastor, you know, my husband's not a believer, and he wants me to go shopping with him, and he wants me to do this. And you know, I love my husband." And she kept putting her husband first, above her commitment to God. And I understand that's tough. It's a difficult situation. Then she called me one day, she said, "Pastor, can you please come to the hospital. My husband was nearly killed at work in an accident and he's in ICU."
And I came to her, had prayer for her and her husband. He actually started coming to church after that. He survived, but she told me, "During that accident," she said, "God almost took my husband. And God told me I am putting my husband ahead", God said, "You're putting your husband ahead of Me." She said, "I've learned a very valuable lesson." She said, "Lord, if You save my husband, I'll always put You first." And then she was at church every week.
Don't ever put somebody ahead of Jesus. The devil will always have someone in your life, might be a boyfriend, or girlfriend, or somebody that's trying to pull you away. You know, Jesus said it might be as hard as plucking out an eye, or cutting off a hand, or cutting off a foot, but if you're going to follow Him, you can't have any earthly tie that is going to stop you from making that decision.
Followers of Jesus have no earthly distractions. You notice that other example that we read. He said, "Someone said, 'Lord, I'll follow You, but let me first bid them farewell that are at my house.' And Jesus said, 'No man, putting his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'"
Now, when Jesus says this, He is talking about the story of Elisha. When Elijah first calls Elisha, Elisha is out plowing in the field with a yoke of oxen. And Elijah goes over to Elisha and he takes his mantle and he puts it on his shoulders, and that was a symbol in those days that he was being called to be the apprentice prophet, to train in to replace Elijah, a very great honor. But Elijah is a poor prophet. It says he lives in a lady's attic, and he's fed by birds, and he stays in a cave, and he's, you know, out by a creek. And Elijah had no earthly treasure, but Elijah had the Spirit of God.
And Elisha, he came from a wealthy family. The Bible says he's out with his family and they're plowing with 12 yoke of oxen. That means you've got a lot of land. He's a wealthy young man. He's got a lot to inherit, but he was willing to walk away from that plow, he actually burned it, and follow Elijah. He never turned back to his family. He said, "I am going to follow Elijah," matter of fact, when Elijah went to heaven, he says, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen." And the Bible says he saw it. He saw it. So now he gets a double portion of Elijah's spirit.
You know, friends, this is a reminder. We're talking about the new heart. We're talking about the revival. What did Jesus do before He ascended to heaven? He went from one group of disciples to another to encourage them, just like Elijah. Then Christ ascended to heaven and then He sent the Holy Spirit. And this is what this story is telling us, and if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as Elisha did Elijah, then we're going to receive a double portion of His spirit.
How could we have a double portion? You know, Jesus said, "These works that I've done, greater things than these will you do because I go to the Father." If God's people would only follow, not that we have greater power than Christ, but the scope of what we do around the world is going to be greater than what Jesus did in the territory of Israel. I believe in the last days, God wants to give His people the latter rain. How's it going to happen? We need to know what it means to really follow Jesus.
So Elisha followed without any earthly distractions. And one old minister told another minister, a young one, "Endeavor to keep your church is small as you can." What he meant by that was, preach the truth. Don't try to grow your church by making it popular. Preach the truth.
The followers of Jesus do not hesitate. Matthew 41:8: "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them, 'Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.'" This is amazing. "Immediately, they left their nets and walk away and they follow Him. Going from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and followed Him." Clearly not putting their father above Jesus. They understood this was the Messiah, that it was the call of God and it's to have a great priority. Matthew 9, He comes and He sees Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and He says, "Follow Me." He arises, he walks away from his cash register, and he follows Jesus.
Now, I'm not asking you to walk out on your boss without giving two weeks' notice, but I think it says illustrating to us that God wants it to be the priority. Follow Him. John 1:37, there at the Jordan River, two disciples who heard Jesus speak, they followed Jesus.
When we are called to follow Christ, we should follow immediately. So often people will say, "Well, you know, I'm going to try and fit God into my calendar." If you're a Christian, God is your calendar. You lay your plans and your calendar before Him and you say, "Lord, I am Yours every moment of every day." Some people say, "Well, I gave God, you know, I went to church. I gave Him those two or three hours in the morning," or maybe you went to prayer meeting. You think the rest of the time is mine. You know why? I've had it happen to me.
I come home, I'm flying home from a country, I do an evangelistic meeting. I'll preach sometimes, you know, in 20 days I'll preach 30 times easily, and I think I worked really hard for the Lord. And then on the plane on the way home, the Lord will sit me down to someone, a little voice will say, "You should witness to this person." I think, "Oh Lord, man, I just finished doing, I'm off the clock now." And the Holy Spirit's like, "Doug, you're never off the clock. You're My servant. You're supposed to be working for Me all the time."
That doesn't mean Christians don't rest. I mean, that's what the Sabbath is all about, but we follow Him immediately. We don't just try and fit Him into our calendar. Something else you learn about the followers of Christ, they come as they are.
Now, I love this story you're going to find in Mark chapter 10. It's about this man named Bartimaeus, Blind Bartimaeus. Jesus is passing through Jericho and there's a blind man there. You know, actually there's probably two blind men. If you read in the Gospel of Mark, it says there's two men, but it's only Bartimaeus we get his name, and he's the one that does all the speaking. And they hear that, they hear there's a commotion. You know, if you're blind, your hearing is sort of accentuated. And they started asking, "What's the fuss? What's going on?" They say, "The Great Rabbi has come from Nazareth, Jesus. He's on his way to Jerusalem for the feast."
By the way, this is the last time that Jesus is going to be passing through Jericho. It's also the same occasion when He runs into Zacchaeus in Jericho, and now He's on His way out of the city. And Bartimaeus had heard that Jesus had healed the blind before, so as he hears the crowd approaching, he calls out. He says, "Son of David, have mercy on me." And he wants to make sure that he can be heard above the crowd. "Son of David, have mercy on me. Son of David, have mercy on me."
Now, if you know, if you believe that Jesus can open your eyes and this is the only time that He's come within reach, how fervently, how loudly will you cry that your eyes might be opened? You know, if the Lord is speaking to you during this revival and saying, you know, it's time for you to get serious, look at what's happening in the world. If you don't think these are the last days, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to get ready and seek first his kingdom. Cry out to the Lord with passion, with fervency, with zeal, with persistency. You might be thinking, "I don't know how I can live the Christian life. When I get to the place where I think I can live the Christian life, then I'm going to commit my life to Jesus." This is where the devil traps the most people.
Don't try to figure out how you're going to obey tomorrow. You come to Jesus now, then He gives you power to obey. Bartimaeus came just like he was: poor, wretched, blind, naked. And the Bible says He said, "What do you want?" Now, it was pretty clear what he wanted. He was blind. He had to get led to Jesus. But he and his companion, they said, "Lord, that we might receive our sight." Jesus said, "Go your way. Your faith has made you whole." And then it tells us immediately he received his sight. Can you imagine the first thing he sees is the face of Jesus, and that love, and that compassion? Jesus is not going anywhere. It says he followed Jesus, no doubt rejoicing, leaping and skipping down the road because Jesus had opened his eyes.
And friends, you know, this is kind of how I feel because I was so lost out in the world. I had no idea what the purpose of life was, but when I found Jesus, I said, "Wow, where have I been?" This is the purpose of life. The gospel is the truth. This is the only thing that makes sense in this world is Christianity, real Christianity. So you follow Him. Follow Jesus completely.
You know the story in the Gospel of Mark chapter 10, the same chapter as Bartimaeus. What a contrast. Jesus, after He blesses these children, there's a rich young ruler. A good man, a godly man, a generous man, a very rich man. And he sees Jesus and he thinks, "Something's missing in my life." Sees Jesus blessing the children. And as Jesus is going down the road, he runs after Him. He says, "Lord, what good thing shall I do that I might inherit eternal life?" Christ says, "Why do you call Me good? None is good but one, and that's God. But if you would enter into life, keep the commandments." He says, "Which ones?"
Jesus begins to recite from the Ten Commandments, from the table of the second table, commandments of man between man. He's saying, "Do you really love your neighbor?" He says, "Oh, You're quoting the Ten Commandments." Every Jewish boy knew the Ten Commandments by heart. A lot of Christians don't know them today, but every Jewish boy knew the Ten Commandments. He said, "Lord, all of these I've kept from my youth up. What do I lack yet?"
He said, "Go, sell what you have and give it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. And take up your cross and follow me." And when Jesus said that, his whole countenance changed. "Sell all I have?" He was rich. I mean, that's what gave him his prestige and his power, and sell it all? He said, "Lord, I want to follow You, but..." And as he went away pondering the sacrifice of taking up his cross and following Jesus, the Bible says he did not follow Christ because it cost too much. He was sad because he had great possessions. And Jesus said to the disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of heaven." They said, "Lord, who can be saved?"
And you know, right after that experience, Zacchaeus, a very rich man, gets saved. So the Lord shows, even with God, all things are possible. But you don't want to let things get in your way. Don't let stuff block you. 1 Timothy 6:9: "Those who desire to be rich fall into many foolish temptations and snares."
Final point. Bible says Jesus leads His people right to heaven. Mark 10, verse 28, Peter began to say, "Lord, we've left everything and followed You. What will we have?" And Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sister or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, he will receive a hundredfold now in this time." I thought, "What does that mean?" Does that mean that you get 100 times more? Is that the prosperity message? No, I'll tell you what that means.
When I decided to be a Christian, my mother and father thought I went crazy. But do you know what? I got adopted by a lot of other saints that took me in. If your father and mother forsake you, the Lord will take you up. Not only that, though I may not have had an earthly home, they all brought me into their homes. And when I joined the little church up in Covelo, I was able to pick who I wanted to eat dinner with every week for years. I got to choose who I was going home with. It was wonderful. And I had all these grandmas, and grandpas, and family, and homes, and I can stay with any of them, and you've got a family.
Karen and I travel around the world. Everywhere we go, "Stay with us." Some friends are watching the Seychelles and we were just over there. So nice, we stayed in their homes and it's like we have family everywhere we go now. Jesus said, "I've got a place for you in My kingdom." Christ said in Luke 9:23, "If anyone comes after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross. If you lose your life for My sake and the gospel's, then you'll really find it."
You know, I remember hearing a story about a man, and it was during the Christmas season, and his wife was telling the children the Christmas story of the Incarnation. He wasn't a believer. His wife, he said, "It's okay, you can take them to Sunday School. You can teach that stuff," he said, "but I don't buy it. I don't see how in the world God can become a man or even why He would become a man."
And she was sad, she had prayer, put the kids to bed. And that night, there was a terrible blizzard. And he lived on a ranch out in the in the wilderness and he was smoking his pipe and reading his paper there by the fire, and all of a sudden he hears this terrible thud. And he looked up at the window just in time to see another thud, and what had happened is there was a flock of geese that had been trapped in this blizzard trying to fly south, and they were coming, they saw the warmth of the light inside his home and they were banging into the window. And he thought, "I got to stop that. They're going to break the window." And so he walked outside and he saw all these geese that were aimlessly flying around, they're colliding. Some of them are on the ground, and they're honking, and they don't know where to go. He thinks, Look, "I'll just open the barn, let 'em go in the barn."
So he opens up the barn. He turns on the light in the barn and he thinks they're just going to know to go in, but they don't go in the barn. And so he gets out behind them and he tries to shoo them in the barn, but it just scares them. He's trying to let 'em know, "Look, the barn is warm," and he waved the light in the barn, but they won't go in the barn. They're kinda hanging back in the shadows and they're freezing in the blizzard.
Then the man got an idea. He had a goose. He went around into the goose pen and he grabbed the family goose, put the goose under his arm, he ran around behind the wild geese. He knew as soon as he let hold of his goose, it was going to go right back into the barn. He let hold of its goose, it flew right through the middle of all the other wild geese right towards the barn. When they other geese saw him go in the barn, they followed him into the barn. He shut 'em in from the blizzard and protected 'em that night.
And then the Lord spoke to him and He said, "The reason that they followed the goose is because it was a goose. And the reason that I sent My Son into the world is so that we could relate to Him." God so loved the world, He gave his Son. Jesus came into the world to show us what God is like. He said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father." He came to show us how to live, to give us an example through Mis teachings, through Mis life, how we ought to love each other, and treat each other, and forgive each other. And then Me came as our substitute. He said, "I love you so much, I don't want you to perish. I will die for all of your sins." And Me died on the cross to forgive us of our sins.
Friends, have you made a decision yet to completely surrender your life to Jesus, to come as you are without any restrictions, to not let anybody get in the way, and to say, "Lord, You're offering me a hundredfold more in this life and eternal life in the world to come. You've died to save me. I trust You. I'm willing to follow You 100%"? If you get discouraged and if you make mistakes like Peter, from time to time you might find you're not faithful, you deny the Lord. Peter repented, he wept, and he became one of the most devoted followers. Return to the Lord at that time and He will accept You.