Devotion 6 of 9 in the series Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 8:18-22

But I Want to Take My Pillow!

But I Want to Take My Pillow | Digging Deeper with God

When it comes right down to it, what takes priority in your heart? For me, my pillow sometimes takes precedence! Jesus challenges us to a higher call.

Matthew 8:18-22 (ESV)

The Cost of Following Jesus

18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 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.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Digging into God’s Word

I absolutely love my pillow. It took me three tries at a big box bath store to find the one: My pillow is embarrassingly heavy, and I’ve been known to lug it along on retreats and vacations in order to guarantee myself a comfortable night’s sleep.

This summer I am going on a week-long bicycle trip, and I cannot take my beloved pillow. It’s about all I’ve thought about the last two days. What will I rest my head on for 7 nights after arduous days of pedaling? For a short time, my obsession over my pillow took priority in my heart over the little children around the world who will receive an education because of the money raised through this bicycle tour.

This is exactly what Jesus challenged in Matthew 8:18-22.

A man who taught God’s law recognized Jesus as Messiah. Out of that recognition flowed a desire to follow Jesus wherever He went. Jesus quickly pointed out that following Him meant the man might not have a place to rest his head. He wouldn’t be able to take his pillow!

Just a few verses back, we learned that Peter had a house–a place to lay his head–so why did Jesus challenge the scribe in this way?

Another man came to Jesus, also wanting to follow Him, except this man’s request was qualified with a but. This exchange might seem unsettling to us:

21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Gasp. Did Jesus really just say that? Again, remember that just a few verses previous to this we saw Jesus show great respect to Peter’s mother-in-law. In Mark 7:9-13, Jesus chastises the teachers of the law for instituting a loophole that excused people from taking care of their parents.

So what did Jesus mean here?

Jesus saw through to the very depth of these men’s hearts. Yes, they understood who Jesus was and desired to follow Him, but something was blocking all-out commitment.

  • The man who painstakingly transcribed God’s Word day after day may have craved stability and routine over the risks Jesus would ask him to take. This hits close to home for me!
  • The other disciple had not yet put Jesus absolutely first in his life. His earthly concerns were his first priority.

What about us? Can I go where Jesus calls me, even if I don’t get to take my pillow? Do we put spouses, children, parents, our job, our home, or our ministry on a throne above Jesus in our hearts?

Digging Deeper

Reflect on these questions. If you have time, journal your answers.

  1. Who or what takes priority in your heart over Jesus? Write them down. As you have time, pray over each one, asking God to take care of that person or thing. Give it all over to Him, so that Jesus can become number one.
  2. What stops you from following Jesus completely? Is it fear of what He might ask you to do? Is it not knowing if things will really work out? Is it comfort: You like your routine or your pillow? Me, too! Ask God to gently reposition your priorities. Yikes. That is scary! Let Him know you are scared, and ask Him to walk with you as you realign your priorities.
  3. Thank goodness, God is with us through everything. Praise Him for His faithfulness. Remind your heart of these words from Hebrews 13:5. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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  1. Eric says:

    I had to think on this. What stops me is fear, a little doubt and a big spoon full of laziness

    • Digging Deeper with God says:

      You are not alone in that! There’s also some piece about being able to know exactly what God wants us to do, although I wonder if I sometimes use that as a cop-out. Also, there’s some thread about being OK with what God has called us to do: He might have called me to do something that feels rather ordinary, but if I am heeding His call, I need to learn to be OK with that.

  2. lisa says:

    Oh, I can relate with this! My problem is that I have to let go of my concern of what others will think of me.. I feel silly and self-conscious at times in certain things. In our service the other day, the pastor asked us if anyone had anything to share in the beginning of the service and I had a clear testimony I could have shared.. but I felt awkward in front of all the people.. so I never shared it. As it turned out, the service that day was 95% on what the Lord had given me to share, and it would have added nicely.
    I was soo afflicted! I’m taking this to Jesus to help me with loving Him enough to let go of my self-consciousness.

    • Digging Deeper with God says:

      Lisa, that is such a poignant story you have shared. Thank you for sharing it. I know others will read it and relate. Looking at the positive, look at how you sensed God working in your spirit. You knew. You knew He was prompting you to share. Seriously, jump up and down at that, because most people can’t discern when God is speaking to them. You’ve already confessed your hesitancy to God, so receive His full forgiveness. He will give you the strength the next time. Trust Him! It will only be good! This all reminds me of Moses–remember when he didn’t want to talk with Pharaoh because he was slow of tongue? There are some interesting parallels here!

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