The German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his exploration of the freeness of grace and the costliness of discipleship, wrote:
“To endure the cross is not a tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident, but a necessity. … the suffering which is an essential part of the specifically Christian life.”
This emphasis, however, is sadly lacking within modern evangelicalism. The fear of legalism and works-based righteousness has produced, instead, an anaemic form of Christianity that might best be described as the Gospel about Jesus instead of the Gospel of Jesus. I am not saying that discipleship is the way in which we are right with God [Galatians 3:11] BUT that it should be the normal response of spiritual rebirth [Ezekiel 36:25-27].
1. The Call to Follow
57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 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.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 NKJV
As Jesus is moving from the region of Galilee in the North to the region of Judea in the South He comes across three prospective disciples. The first, however, whilst he is eager to join has not clearly understood that Jesus has been refused hospitality in Samaria and therefore has nowhere to sleep and is effectively homeless [Luke 9:51-53]. The second man is asked to become a disciple but wants to wait until his father is buried and the third man wants to go home first and say goodbye to his family. Whilst this may seem harsh to us, what we must remember is that Jesus was in His final year of ministry at this time, which meant there was a sense of great urgency about His mission, an urgency that at times must be present within our own lives.
APPLICATION: Whilst we are weak and fallen individuals unable to follow the call, let us ask that God might give us the grace to count the cost, follow immediately and not look back. This week look at the different areas of your life; these might include your intellect, time keeping, thought life, your finances, relationships or work. Ask that God may allow you to see practical ways in which these might be used for His glory; if however, there are areas which do not bring Him glory you must turn your back on these things and begin to follow wholeheartedly. This will not be easy and therefore must be done in prayer and in the counsel of mature believers.
2. The Command to Go
10 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. 2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. 5 But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. 9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ 12 ButI say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. Luke 10:1-12 NKJV
Having whittled down these would-be followers to seventyish (the manuscripts are equally divided between seventy and seventy-two) Jesus commissions them for a mission trip. On this mission trip Jesus gives them a plethora of principles that we can draw for our own lives. Mission is better accomplished in partnership [v1] and while it is the job of all Christians, most don’t want to get involved so we need to pray for more workers [v2]. It will also involve great danger [v3], a sense of urgency [v4] and a dependence upon God and His people for provision [v5-7a]. It goes on to teach that we shouldn’t keep moving around until our mission is accomplished [v7b], that we shouldn’t be fussy at the provision we are given [v8], that there should be a proclamation and a demonstration of the Gospel [v9] and finally that we should not be embarrassed at God’s righteous indignation of sin [v10-12].
APPLICATION: I would like to encourage you to live missionally as that is what Christ requires of us all [John 20:21]. Please do not make others your pet-project or overwhelm them by becoming annoyingly overfamiliar before you even know them though; this only makes people suspicious of your motives and actually repels people from the Gospel. Instead, try living more inclusively and developing actual friendships within your neighborhood and workplace; be ready to give an account of your faith, by all means, but please refrain from an aggressive, all-guns-blazing approach.
3. The Cause for Celebration
17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but ratherrejoice because your names are written in heaven.” 21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 22 Allthings have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Luke 10:17-22
The seventy return and begin celebrating their triumph over demons, something the twelve were unable to do earlier [Luke 9:38-41]. Jesus, however, tells them that they must not rejoice in what they do but where they are going, for even exemplary outward service is not an indicator of inner motives or of eternal salvation [Matthew 7:21-27]. Jesus then begins to rejoice at the fact that God Himself is the determining factor of whether someone is able to understand or not understand spiritual truth.
APPLICATION: Having understood this we must develop the utmost humility before God, acknowledging our absolute need of Him for salvation and spiritual revelation for the default position of man is blindness and enmity toward Him [Romans 8:5-8]. Over the centuries, many Christians have found “the Jesus prayer” helpful in developing this posture of humility. Why not try and pray it throughout the week?
“Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
Here is a link to a film about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
 The second man’s father may have recently died, been ready to die or may have been in perfect health. It was the job of the firstborn son to bury his parents.