Today's Bible Reading: Luke 9
Selected Biblical Text
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:57-62 ESV)
Reflecting and Thinking
What a power-packed chapter! Here's a quick overview -- Jesus sends out the Twelve with power, Herod tries to see Jesus, Jesus feeds the 5000, Peter's confession, the first two of three predictions of Jesus' suffering and death, the Transfiguration, Jesus heals a boy with an evil spirit, the disciples argue about greatness, Jesus resolutely sets out for Jerusalem and his crucifixion, and some Samaritans reject Jesus' visit to their village. How do we sort it out?
A key thought to help us tie things together is found in the last section of the chapter. Even after Jesus' identity is firmly established, an important question yet remains. Who will be a follower of Jesus? Some would follow but find the price too high. Some are distracted with personal desires and priorities. Some cannot let go completely of family and possessions and the obligations and rhythms of daily life. For many of us in cultures and societies of the Western World, following Jesus has become very easy (too easy?). The temptation to "look back" is ever present -- never complete erased. Again and again, Christians are tempted to look lookingly at the world. Some even to try to integrate their Christian lives into a secular world. Jesus says, "It won't work!"
When have you been tempted to "look back?" Have you ever committed yourself to something for the Lord or in the church, and then changed your mind and withdrawn from the project? Why? What does this verse say to such situations? Have you ever started and then stopped? Why? What does Jesus think about "looking back," based on these verses?
Heavenly Father, we marvel at the commitment of Jesus who went forward in your will and plan, knowing what was awaiting him. He himself predicted his death. He purposefully, resolutely, determinedly set out for Jerusalem, even with the end in sight. Help us to appreciate and imitate such commitment. We pray for your help as we count the cost and commit to follow Jesus -- regardless. In Jesus' name we ask this, Amen.