Eric Gargus, student pastor
Northside Baptist Church, Columbus
Although she knew the risks, she was an unlikely martyr. Karen Watson went from running a pool hall to later becoming a detention officer. Watson’s no-nonsense approach helped her handle violent inmates with calming words — and, when needed, with physical force. She did everything with excellence while expecting those around her to do the same. This tough young woman from a broken home was diamond in the rough.
When Karen Watson gave her life to Jesus, she was all in. Once God softened her heart to His desire for all mankind to know Him, Watson felt compelled to sell everything she owned and go to Iraq as a Southern Baptist relief worker. This was shortly after Saddam Hussein’s government was toppled. Violent factions erupted, and on Watson’s second stint in Iraq, she was murdered. She risked everything to share the love of Christ, dying with no regrets.
The Bible Meets Life
To follow Jesus requires the willingness to give up everything. Jesus’ first disciples had the privilege of literally coming alongside Him to learn His wisdom and His ways. When one would speak up daringly to declare total allegiance, Jesus would calmly point out the cost of following Him.
Jesus made His messages quite clear to the culture and people who walked the earth while He walked the earth. Luke recalls a detailed teaching time in which Jesus clearly points out the many challenges a person will face when following Him. From food and shelter to the risk of violent attacks that might result in death, Jesus makes it clear what a follower will face when choosing to be His disciple regardless of the risk involved.
Study the Bible
Luke 9:57-58 Following Jesus includes no guarantee of comfort. Jesus’ miracles and the large crowds He drew may have caused some disciples to feel like rock stars. Everyone loves attention.
When the follower in these verses says, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go,” Jesus does not reject him. Instead, He offers a realistic image of the total dependence on God that is required. A fox or a bird would feel more at home, and more secure, on this planet than a true disciple might feel! It would be a hard road with no glitz and glamour — and often not even a comfortable place to sleep.
Luke 9:59-60 Delayed obedience is disobedience. At first glance, these verses can make Jesus sound harsh and lacking compassion. Yet when Jesus tells the next person, “Come follow me, “He would be doing that person a disservice by not being realistic.
Jesus points out that to follow Him means to start now, even if later is more convenient. Jesus must come first — even over immediate family. The path of obedience is never easy. Jesus did not want to hide the hardships of a life of following Him in the now and later.
Luke 9:61-62 We cannot move forward in Christ if we are looking back. A person does not drive a car without seeing the road ahead. The driver cannot turn around and have a lengthy conversation with a passenger without an eminent crash. In the same way, to follow Jesus one must focus on Him in order to be obedient to Him.
When Jesus beckons this third person in this passage to follow Him, He counters the excuse of wanting to go back to family with a simple reminder that one is not fit to follow, and is destined for failure, when one is constantly looking and wanting to go back to the way it was before following Jesus.
Live It Out
Although many will seek to follow Jesus, few will truly follow through to the extent Jesus teaches us in Luke 9:57-62. A comfortable follower of Christ is a lukewarm believer who has not grasped what it truly means to be willing to give up everything for the sake of the Gospel.
When Karen Watson left for the mission field, everything she owned was in the duffel bag she took with her. It was given to her family as a reminder of her life of sacrifice for Christ. She also left a letter with her pastor to be read at her funeral, should she lose her life while on mission. The letter made it clear that Watson had counted to cost of following Jesus, as the following words were written in bold capital letters: “THERE ARE NO REGRETS.”
- What words come to mind describing a person who sells everything and follow Jesus to a dangerous mission field?
- Is there anything in your life that might hold you back from being a fully devoted follower of Christ?
- What is one major truth you can glean from Luke 9:57-62?