Luke 9:57–62 (ESV) “As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 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.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
When I read these words, I am reminded of those of Winston Churchill in his famous address to the British Parliament on the eve of entering the 2nd World War. In part he said: “I say to the House as I said to ministers who have joined this government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.
You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs – Victory in spite of all terrors – Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.
Let that be realized.”
Now look back at Jesus’ words – in a day when being a Christian is to many a simple take-it-or-leave-it preference. His discussions with these three men seem strangely at odds with post-modern Christendom’s views, don’t they?
To the first, He made it clear that there is no PROMISE that in following Christ you will not be homeless. If you are looking to follow Jesus only if it means your earthly security remains intact – you may well be very sadly mistaken. He will make no promises of earthly comforts.
To the second He established that no PRIORITY can take precedence over following Jesus, no matter how personal or culturally pressing. Instead, He guarantees it will alter every normal relationship due to a complete re-prioritization of everything in light of the mission.
And from the last reply we learn that one cannot “try it out” – you commit for life – period. Nothing can be more PRECIOUS to us than following Jesus. We must make a clean break from the old life. If there is something back there that you still long for so much – you will constantly be distracted by what you miss. Trying to keep one eye longingly looking back will make a wreck of what you are doing. Either you follow Him, or you go home – but you cannot do both. Remember Lot’s wife.
Sobering words. But then again, He is leading us in the most glorious of all things. And as such, it does not admit of non-committal, self-indulgent, self-focus.
Heaven – HE – is that worth it.