By Clay Hallmark
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Lexington
Focal Passage: Luke 9:57-62
Fans of Southeastern Conference Football are some of the most devoted people in the country to their teams. They will spend hundreds of dollars for tickets, travel mile after mile to watch their team play, sing their fight song with greater joy than a Chris Tomlin church chorus, wear their team colors, paint their bodies, and some fans even wear plastic pigs on their heads all to show support for their team.
However, the enthusiasm quickly begins to fade the moment “their team” loses a game or a second game or (gasp) a third game. All of a sudden, the true fan loses their interest in the game, the season and the team.
Jesus experienced this with those who followed Him. There are a number of examples in the New Testament where throngs of people became fans of Jesus, but the moment He called for genuine commitment, the fans walked away from Him.
What is a fan? A fan is one who is devoted to a person, team or a thing in the realm of sports, entertainment or personality. Today’s fans display their affection to the object of their affection on the internet and other forms of social media. Fans buy their products, publicize their loyalty and drive a celebrity or a team’s success.
The problem with a fan is that the intensity and commitment do not last over time. After the glory fades or losses accumulate, the fan transfers his allegiance and attention to another.
A follower, on the other hand, is there for the long haul. Even in the hard times, a follower is committed to whoever or whatever is their priority. Jesus did not call us to be fans, but followers of Him. The Transfiguration in Luke 9 is the turning point of the book, separating and distinguishing fans from followers.
These three men mentioned in this passage could have become genuine disciples of Jesus, but they were not willing to meet the conditions of commitment. They were only “Jesus fans,” but they were not Jesus “followers.” Why? What was their focus?
The first man was only a fan because his focus was on self! If you read Matthew’s account of this story in Matthew 8:19, we see this first man was a scribe. He volunteered to follow Jesus with great vigor and enthusiasm until Jesus told him the cost of following Him was to deny himself. A focus on self is one of the major stumbling blocks of anyone who would follow Jesus. When we focus on self and not on the Savior, we miss all that God has for us.
The second man was only a fan because his focus was on someone! This guy obviously had a lot of potential. Jesus actually called him and gave him the chance to be a disciple, just as He had done Levi and the fishermen. This man had good intentions to follow Jesus, but his focus was on someone else … his father. Jesus is not advocating that we dishonor our parents. Rather, the words of Jesus about the dead burying the dead was really a warning about priorities. Any time we put another person ahead of Jesus, even a family member, we are not being obedient to the Lord. Jesus would later say that our love for Him should be so great that our love for others would look like hate (Luke 14:26).
The third man was a fan because his focus was on something! This man also came and enthusiastically volunteered to follow Jesus, but he wanted to set the rules. His focus was really on something else … the past. He could not let go of the past. He wanted to hold onto past relationships and past dealings. Jesus saw that this man was not “all in” and would always be looking back and letting his past dictate his future.
Looking at Jesus’ interaction with these three men it is not a wonder Jesus would proclaim in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” It is time for us to examine ourselves to see if there is anyone or anything we are putting ahead of our willingness to follow Jesus with our all! B&R