Jesus went to the home of Peter, where he found that Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with fever. He took her by the hand, and the fever left her. Then she got up and served Jesus a meal.
That evening many people with demons in them were brought to Jesus. And with only a word he forced out the evil spirits and healed everyone who was sick. So God’s promise came true, just as the prophet Isaiah had said,
“He healed our diseases
and made us well.”
When Jesus saw the crowd, he went across Lake Galilee. A teacher of the Law of Moses came up to him and said, “Teacher, I’ll go anywhere with you!”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests. But the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to call his own.”
Another disciple said to Jesus, “Lord, let me wait till I bury my father.”
Jesus answered, “Come with me, and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matthew 8:14–22)
After Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, crowds of people came to be healed. Many of those who came wanted to become his followers, believing that the Messiah would solve all their physical, financial and political problems. Jesus had to correct their misconceptions.
First, a teacher of the law approached Jesus. Such men were respected and prosperous. Jesus warned him that there were no material benefits for following him. Next, a man asked Jesus if he could follow Jesus later, after he buried his father. Was the disciple’s father a corpse awaiting burial? Unlikely. The Jewish people usually buried their dead immediately, within hours of death. Rather, the father was very old, and so the man wanted to wait until after his father had finally died, so he could take care of the obligations for proper burial and the distribution of the inheritance. So Jesus told him that there were plenty of people that would be able to see to those end of life details. But deciding to follow Jesus was not something that could wait.
Jesus did not tell these two individuals that they could not follow him. Jesus simply clarified how much it would cost. As high as that cost might have seemed to those two men, the price we pay for following Jesus is actually a bargain. We gain far more than just petty physical rewards or wealth that fades and can’t possibly last: we gain eternity.