August 11th, 2021 – Luke 9:62

Verse of the Day Devotion  Luke 9:62  But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  

After spending some time speaking about the twelve with the disciples, Jesus now enters into conversations with three would-be followers.  These three brief exchanges differ from the classic ‘call to follow’ stories as laid out in the synoptic gospels.  In these earlier stories each call is issued by Jesus to named persons, and each individual follows without resistance or delay.  Here, contrary to the former stories, the first and third conversations are initiated by those desiring to follow Him, while the second is called by Jesus.  Let us look at each of these incidents and see what occurred, namely what Jesus laid out as the conditions of discipleship..

The first candidate, whose name is unknown tells Jesus He will follow Him anywhere He goes. However, Jesus’ response is, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Luke 9:58. Jesus was essentially telling him that animals can adapt to nature and survive and accept this lifestyle.  However, the Son of Man has not been sent into the world to adapt to it. And therefore, His followers should not adapt to it either.  How foreign this Jesus to the domesticated Jesus of nineteenth-century liberalism so comfortably conventional. The world may claim shelter as an inalienable human right, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head; it may claim the right to a better future, but the Son of Man offers hope only in the coming kingdom of God; it may claim the right to rest, peace, and justice, but the Son of Man finds only tribulation in the world.

The second man was invited by Jesus to follow Him; however, his response was, “Permit me first to go and bury my father.”  The question raised here is, was his father already dead, or was he in danger of dying soon?  We do not have an answer regarding this, but Jesus’s answer regards the aspects of the Law covering the burial of the dead. Jews regarded proper burial of the dead among the “decrees and instructions” commanded in Torah. Burial was a paramount example of a “work of love,” enjoining tears, mourning, and fervent wailing. To not neglect burial was for all ancients, Jews and Greeks, a virtually inviolable duty.  However, what He was telling him was the keeping of the law, and in this case the burial laws, must become secondary to following Him and His ways and work. 

And finally, another one comes to Jesus. “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” Luke 9:61. Jesus would later speak on this idea that anyone who chooses to follow Him must put Him above everyone else in their lives. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26.  Basically, His message is if you love anyone or anything more than me, than you are not worthy to be my disciple.

We must also remember that, as Christians, nothing else can take precedence over Jesus and the work He has called us to. And we should not look and think about how things could have been like.  And this is the basis of our focus verse, which is, “But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62. Jesus now points to commonsense farming wisdom to portray discipleship as single-minded detachment from the life and social systems one has known. A farmer who is plowing a field had best look ahead rather than backward. And Jesus means now; the field is already being readied for planting.  To look back at your former life can put us in a position of regret regarding what could have been.  We must believe that following Christ is the best life we could possibly have and want in the present and future, and what is in the past has no comparison.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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