57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
This is severe. What happened to “God is love”? What kind of a God wouldn’t authorize family leave for a son to be present for his father’s funeral? What happened to “Honor your father and mother”? And what’s wrong with saying goodbye to your family before you take off on a crusade that may not end until your life is over?
In order to understand what Jesus demanded here in Luke, you have to remember:
1. God always has a reason for what He does or demands.
2. There was (and is) a war on, and Jesus was training His Special Forces, SEALs, Delta Forces. Their training is far more harsh than regular infantry. It is a necessity. They are going to be the sharp end of the spear. Often they’re going to be “first in, last out, and always on their own.” You can’t be “average” and accomplish that kind of mission.
3. King Jesus never sends us where He has not been before us. He suffered far more than He asked of His disciples.
In John 6:51-59 also, Jesus again said things that sounded unreasonable, crude, vulgar, abrasive, and maybe even psychotic. Very much like what we would expect to hear from the likes of David Koresh or Charles Manson. Hence the title of this section. In John 6, when Jesus said those things, the response was apparently negative. Counter-productive: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” So much so that Jesus asked the Twelve if they wanted to leave Him also. Peter replied for all of them, and his reply was more desperation than confidence: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’ ”
And Jesus replied with a seeming insult even to this: “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!”
Wow. Jesus stomped all over their blue suede shoes, in John chapter 6 and here.
Reeling in shock, the ex-disciples staggered to the nearest bar and drank themselves into oblivion, and that was the end of the Christian faith.
Nope. That wasn’t what happened. Why not? Were the disciples the same kind of mind-blinded idiots who followed Jim Jones to Guyana and drank the poisoned Koolaid?
What happened was that the disciples believed Jesus in spite of doubts, because of what they had seen and heard:
Jesus said to doubting Pharisees, “… do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”
Or as he said on another occasion, “By their fruit you shall know them.”
Th disciples’ faith may have been weak and confused at times, but it was not blind faith. They took the attitude that they would believe what they knew, and the questions would get sorted out later. So they were still in the faith when the resurrection occurred, and all their doubts disappeared in joyous certainty. They knew for sure then that whatever was required was reasonable and would be rewarded. Paul wrote: “Therefore, I [urge you, beseech you, appeal to you, beg you,] brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
This degree of total commitment, to the exclusion of any other human obligation or duty, may well be required of us, brothers and sisters. That is why this passage is terribly important to us right now. Today. We need to face the possibility. Ask ourselves if we are serious about our Christian faith. Ask God to show us if we are lacking commitment or character that we may need. This Scripture, like the rest of the Bible, is intended for all believers everywhere: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2nd Timothy 3:16-17)
You thought you were going to be just a “normal”, “regular” Christian, living out your life in an apostate but relatively peaceful nation? Maybe. But maybe you signed up for Special Forces.
Better get tough, brothers and sisters. Not hard, not cold, but tough. Get your equipment together, make sure it’s in good condition (Ephesians 6:10-18). Get very familiar with the entire Bible. Practice daily application in “small” matters of what you learn. Because you fight like you train, and “normal” life is full of “training moments” for Christians.
Because we are in the Last Days, “the time of the end”, and “With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32)
That can be you. 🙂 🙂 🙂
May God grant that this group of believers may greet each other with joy,and not with shame, when we meet inside heaven’s gates.