Have you ever started a new diet or exercise plan only to give up after a few days? If you aren’t willing to make the commitment, you won’t experience the reward and the benefit. In the same way, following Jesus is a commitment. What does Jesus ask of us? I invite you to open to Luke 9:57-62, and we will look at three guys who were interested in this Jesus guy, but they were unwilling to commit.
This was right after Jesus set out to travel to Jerusalem. While he was traveling, many people came up to him because they were interested in following him. The first man comes up to Jesus and says, “I will follow you wherever you go” He sounds pretty eager, but what does Jesus tell him? He says, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Foxes and Birds both know where they are going to sleep. They have a comfortable place to lay, and they don’t have to worry about that. But the son of man has no place to lay his head, meaning that following him is not always going to be comfortable. This is a rather blunt answer to this man’s eagerness to follow Jesus, but I think Jesus is sort of reading between the lines to discover this man’s motive. One author wrote that it’s as if Jesus is telling this man, “I see that you have a home, a nice standard of living. Are you willing to put me before that? Are you willing to lose those things for me?” Becoming a disciple of Jesus will be hard at times. There is a cost to discipleship. There will be trials. There will be persecution. Following Jesus requires a sacrifice of comfort and a trust in uncertainty. Are you willing to get uncomfortable?
In vs. 59 of this passage in Luke 9, Jesus calls a second man to follow him, but this man says, “first let me go and bury my father.” He wanted to follow Jesus, but he had a family obligation to take care of first. There is reason to believe that this man’s father wasn’t actually dead yet. Jewish custom dictated that burial take place immediately after death. Lazarus was buried immediately after he died. Also, burial preparations were extensive, and if this man’s father had died but hadn’t been buried yet, the man wouldn’t be out wandering around; he would be busy preparing for the funeral. That said, this was an excuse. He wanted to wait until the future death of his father so that he could claim his inheritance. He was waiting until he was financially secure and had no more family obligations before he would go off and follow Jesus. But how does Jesus respond? He says in vs. 60, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Jesus challenged this man to leave these earthly matters to those who are “dead,” which could very well mean those who are “spiritually dead.” Those who are of the world make these things their priority, but this man now has a different priority, and that is to go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God. Jesus is calling for you to follow him now and not delay your commitment. Are you willing to leave earthly matters behind and commit?
The third man in this passage was asked by Jesus to follow him, but he says, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” But Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” The man’s mention of his family left the door open for them to persuade him and make him rethink his decision. Jesus calls for him to instead look forward and not look back. If you try to farm with a plow while looking back, you're going to end up with an awful-looking field. In the same way, we can’t hold on to our old life while trying to walk in the new. Are you willing to leave the past behind?
Jesus asks us to get uncomfortable, be set apart from this world, and leave the past behind. Are you willing to do this? Are you willing to commit to following him wholeheartedly? I invite you to surrender all that is holding you back and commit to giving him your full heart!