He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Jesus Wants Top Billing
When actors begin their careers, they don’t generally get the lead part after one audition. Instead, they endure years of playing insignificant roles before their big break. Most never get one. For every actor you can name, there are thousands whose names you’ll never know. It’s difficult—almost impossible—to get top billing. Most don’t ever see their name in bold letters over everyone else’s on the movie poster or theater marquee. That’s only reserved for the very best.
When Jesus walked the earth, plenty of people were willing to follow him, but only to a certain point. St. Luke tells us in his gospel that there were large crowds traveling with Jesus (14:25), but they only wanted him to play the part of a movie extra in their lives. Yes, he could be a part of their lives but not the essential part. They weren’t ready to give him top billing, the starring role.
But Jesus isn’t interested in having disciples who are only willing to give him an insignificant role in their life story. He wants us to give him top billing. When he saw that large crowd following him, he told them in no uncertain terms what he expects. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26,27).
Of course, Jesus doesn’t really want us to hate anyone, any more than he wanted to keep his would-be disciple in Luke 9 from attending his father’s funeral. But Jesus does want us to understand this: nothing in our lives can outrank him and his saving Word. He must have top billing because he and his Word alone grant us the certain hope of everlasting life. That’s what Jesus has won for you and for all people, and he doesn’t want you to trade it for anything.
Dear Jesus, help me to give you and your Word top billing in my life. Amen.