Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. Then a scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." Jesus *said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Matthew 8:18-20 NASB)
Jesus saw the crowd and gave orders to go to the other side of the sea. This is not a case of Jesus neglecting the crowd, this is important to see. Certainly He already knows what He is going to encounter on the other side, but He is also using this moment to make a clear point about the cost of discipleship. We will see this in this posting as well as the next. Jesus sees this crowd and announces that He will be heading across the sea (large lake)... and a Scribe quickly chimes in with, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus does not rebuke this man, but instead responds by telling the scribe that He is homeless, and will continue to be homeless. In other words Jesus tells the scribe that there is nowhere to follow Him to, there is no earthly destination to Christ’s journey, no earthly home in which He plans on settling.
Another important aspect of this section is how the scribe addresses Christ. He says ‘Teacher’, if you recall from previous posts about the centurion and others, Jesus was addressed not as teacher, but as Lord. There is a great difference here, and it is still the difference between genuine and false professors today. Jesus indeed was a great teacher, but His teaching was not mere transmission of information, it was authoritative commandment from the Most High God. Indeed many great historical figures could teach, but they lacked authority. To view Jesus as ‘teacher’ is to sell Jesus short, He is teacher, but more than that He is Lord.
If your lord commands you to follow him though he has no home, and no earthly destination, you have no choice but to go because the word ‘lord’ implies this man is your master. If your ‘teacher’ commands you to follow, it is still up to you because the teacher has no authority. Yes they can teach you all the benefits of following them, and they can transmit all sorts of information, but they are not your lord, and ultimately do not carry the same authority. Jesus gives this scribe the opportunity to accept the Lordship of Himself, but not without first explaining some of the cost.
Again, realize Jesus gave orders to go to the other side of the sea knowing that some would step forward and profess that they wanted to follow. Jesus set the stage for teaching about costly discipleship.