In our passage today, Luke 9:46-62, we read about 3 different men that talk to Jesus as He travels to Jerusalem. Jesus is walking towards His eventual death on the Cross.
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
Jesus had 3 different conversations with 3 different men along his way.
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.
This sounds promising. The man will follow Jesus, he wants to do it. It is something we all might say or have said. Of course we want to follow Him.
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Jesus explains that following Him won’t be easy. He tells him that he may not have a place to sleep. The cost of following Him will be discomfort and loneliness. The cost will be great.
He said to another man, “Follow me.”
Jesus asked this man to follow Him. He chose Him from the crowd. But what does this man do? He made an excuse.
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Now, this seems like a reasonable excuse. His father died. But, in reality, his father wasn’t dead yet. “Bury my father” meant to go back and take care of him until he died (which could be years down the road).
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Jesus is very clear in his reply to this man. Jesus does not want an excuse, He wants an immediate response. He makes it clear that he does not want the man to follow cultural norms, but to go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.
The third person makes a similar request as above.
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
The mans says he wants to follow, but, he gives another excuse. He wants to say “goodbye”.
Jesus replied, “no one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
The cultural norm at this time was to ask parental permission. Jesus is saying you don’t need permission from anyone. He wants him to keep his focus ahead and not look behind at what he is leaving.
I humbly admit, I can see myself in all 3 of these examples. I say I follow Jesus, I want to follow Jesus, but I find excuses all the time. The reality is that we are called to follow Jesus.
He calls us to stand ready to live out God’s commands. He does not want our second best or our excuses. He wants us to be ready to follow. Jesus must come before our comforts, obligations and duties. Our eyes need to be focused forward on Jesus, never looking back to the life we gave up when we gave our life to Jesus.
The decision to follow Jesus is one that we make and then remake over and over again throughout our life. Jesus is a God of mercy. He extends his hands to us continuously, even though we make excuses or reject him. Jesus is calling us daily to follow Him. He does not want our excuses. But through His grace and mercy we get to begin again and follow Him, even when we have an excuse.