Monday, August 13, 2018

The Cost of Discipleship

"Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

As the disciples traveled to Jerusalem with Jesus, a man said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go” (Luke 9:57). How often we have heard and even made such professions. It is easy to make promises in the flush of joy and enthusiasm, but not so easy to keep them in difficult times. Jesus sobered this man by saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” In other words, if you want to follow Jesus, you must leave behind earthly security.

Then Jesus invited another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” If this man’s father had already been dead, he would probably have been at the house mourning, so more than likely he meant his father was near death. Jesus replies with one of His most difficult sayings: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Jesus knew that this man was procrastinating. One of the most important things a man could do in Judaism was to attend to the burial of his family members, but Jesus was saying that life had greater claims than death (vv. 59–60).

Understand that Jesus was not setting down a law for all times, as if we are not supposed to try and provide homes for our families, or as if we are to neglect sick and dying family members. Rather, He was pointing to the immediate urgency of that uniquely historic moment. When the kingdom of God is at stake, there is only one place for the Christian—the front lines.

This is also the context in which we must take the last incident recorded in this passage. Another man said, “I will follow you, but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” It would have only taken fifteen minutes. But Jesus said that anyone joining Him at that moment had no time to look back, even for a moment (vv. 61–62).

Competing time demands can be made even more complex in the light of teaching such as Jesus provides in today’s passage. Where is the balance that conventional wisdom would prescribe? Evaluate your priorities and commitments today in light of Christ’s seemingly “unbalanced” approach.