Counting the Cost of Following Jesus

By Mark D. Roberts

February 3, 2021

Scripture – Luke 9:57-58 (NRSV)

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”


When a man offered to follow Jesus wherever he went, Jesus responded by saying that “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Following Jesus would entail uncertainty, discomfort, and dependence. Though we may have homes in which to live, this story from Luke challenges us to consider the cost of discipleship. What are you willing to give up to follow Jesus?

Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.


Gilmore Girls was a wildly popular television show in the early 2000s. (Of course you can binge the whole series these days through a variety of digital platforms.) My family loved the show, so I watched almost all the episodes spanning seven seasons. This means that I heard the show’s theme song 153 times. I didn’t mind that repetition, however, because I’ve liked the song “Where You Lead” since I was young. It was written by Carole King, who, curiously enough, had a recurring role in Gilmore Girls, playing a cranky music store owner. The chorus of “Where You Lead” goes like this:

Where you lead, I will follow,
Anywhere that you tell me to.
If you need, you need me to be with you,
I will follow where you lead.

Had it been written two millennia earlier, it might well have inspired a nameless fan of Jesus who makes a cameo appearance in Luke 9. As Jesus and his disciples were walking along, this man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go” (9:57). To this statement of intent Jesus responded in a curious way: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (9:58).

Jesus’s basic meaning is clear. Following him will not be comfortable or convenient. It will mean not having a secure, predictable place to live, presumably because Jesus and his followers will be moving around a lot on their way to Jerusalem. In addition to the uncertainty of this arrangement, following Jesus will likely include the discomfort of camping out as well as depending on others for lodging. Following Jesus was not for the faint of heart.

Some contemporary disciples of Jesus experience something very much like what Jesus described. In Syria, for example, thousands upon thousands of Christians have been ousted from their homes because of their faith. Jesus’s statement in Luke 9:58 reminds us to pray for these believers and to support efforts to secure homes for them.

For most of us, however, following Jesus does not require homelessness. So how might we respond to this scene in Luke 9? For me, this passage confronts my strong desire for comfort, convenience, and security. It invites me to consider what I am willing to risk for the sake of Jesus and his mission. It confronts the parts of me that resist following Jesus fully and freely.

Luke does not tell us whether the man who wanted to follow Jesus went along with him or not, in spite of what this would have cost him. It’s possible that he joined the larger group of disciples who, in addition to the core twelve, were part of Jesus’s retinue (see 10:1). Or he might have turned away because the cost was too great. Nevertheless, his story challenges me to say to Jesus in an even deeper way, “Where you lead, I will follow.”


Why do you think Jesus answered the man in the way he did? What was Jesus trying to communicate?

Have you ever risked anything for the sake of following Jesus? If so, what happened? If not, why not?

What may be some of the things that are holding you back from following Jesus more fully today?


Set aside some time to think about what you may or may not have given up to follow Jesus. Talk with him about what you’re thinking.


Lord Jesus, as I read today’s story from Luke, I’m reminded of just how much I want the security and comfort of home. If you were calling me away from where I want to live, I wonder what I would do.

I expect there are many things that keep me from following you fully. I may not even be aware of them. Help me, I pray, to see these limitations. Give me the courage to let go of them so that I might follow you, wherever you lead. Amen.

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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Humble Service (Luke 9:46-50, 14:7-11, 22:24-30)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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