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.” – Luke 9:62  

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. 

1 Peter 5:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Peter 5:6

“Therefore. humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” – 1 Peter 5:6

Our focus verse for today tells us that we should be humble before God.  In fact, he uses a very specific phrase that gives a fuller picture of what is meant: “under the mighty hand of God”.  This phrase often speaks of being under the punishment of God.  However, the meaning here speaks of a much more positive idea.  This is to be understood in a more humble manner, that He provides a safe and profitable path, being hid as in the hollow of His hand as we fulfill His will.

However, the general idea is that when we do the work of God, that we do it in humility knowing that God is working through us, and that we are not to lift ourselves up in a prideful way.  Solomon puts it this way, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” Proverbs 15:33.  Before we are honored, we should submit to God in humility.  Adam Clarke in his commentary on Proverbs says, “few persons ever arrive at honor who are not humble; and those who from low life have risen to places of trust and confidence, have been remarkable for humility.”  Micah also has something to say about humility.  “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8.

Now, back to 1 Peter 5.  In verse five we read, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5.  This verse comes from Proverbs 3:34, “Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” and is also referred to in James 4:6. It basically says that God resists the proud, those who place more emphasis and priority on what they do, rather than in what God is doing through them. And by being humble, we can anticipate a future exaltation.  “that He may exalt you at the proper time.” 1 Peter 5:6b.  Now, we do not know whether it will come in this life or the next, however, what God promises He will always do.

It is important that we always go before God in humility, understanding that He is our loving and merciful God.  And we must always, in all humility, do the work of God in a manner that does not exalt ourselves but recognizes that God is doing the work through us.  “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:12-13.  He does the work; we are the vessel He uses to accomplish His will.  Therefore, we should not focus on ourselves as we do what God has called us to but focus on the one who called us and is working through us.  In regards to myself, I am humbled that God chooses to use me at all, when I look back on my life prior to being saved.  However, I am extremely thankful that He does.  I pray that you who are reading this will see your calling and work in the same way.   

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