22 Jan Never Look Back: A Closer Look At Luke 9 by Pastor David Gadoury
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 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.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father. ” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Our church recently embraced a new mission statement that says our mission is “To call all to love God, follow Jesus, and serve others.” It is one thing to talk about people following Jesus. It is another thing for them to actually do it. This got me thinking, “Why don’t people consistently and unwaveringly follow Jesus?”
Then I realized that the answer may be found in a simple story in the Gospel of Luke. Three different people are described in Luke 9 as thinking about following Jesus. His response to each of them has helped me understand where some of the problems may lie.
One of them boasts, “I will follow you wherever you go.” In his reply, Jesus reminds him of the cost of the decision he is contemplating. He says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
This seems to highlight a major problem for potential Jesus-followers. Impulsiveness. In his haste to jump on board, this man had not considered his attachment to financial security. He, like so many of us, imagined that he could be devoted to Jesus, while at the same time being wedded to his need for things and the comforts of life. When push comes to shove, are we prepared to give up on the so-called “Good things of life” in order to seriously follow him?
Then there is the problem of procrastination. When another is called to follow Jesus, he lamely offers an excuse: “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Some have pointed out that the man’s father probably wasn’t even dead yet. But it is the unknown and indefinite that keeps him for declaring, “I’m all in.” Most people go through their entire life waiting for they don’t know what. And many are deliberately holding back from a life of surrender to God because of the big, unknown “Until.” People think they are ready to follow Jesus when they finally get the habit licked, or when their situation is finally resolved, or when they have met some goal they are shooting for. The reality is that our lives will never count for more than they count right now. There is no time like the present to follow Jesus.
And who can forget those who hold out on God because of their family attachments. We have let people come between ourselves and a life fully devoted to him. “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Those connections to family and loved ones have stood in the way of so many. I cannot count the numbers of people I have known who would not fully give themselves to Jesus, because they feared they would have to face the rejection of their family. They are more concerned with how the family does things, how they were brought up, or what “Pop” would think, than they are about standing on their convictions and on truth.
Jesus puts out a final, sobering word about the devotion that God can rightly expect. He says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Do you have a “Never look back” devotion to King Jesus?