Luke 9:57-62 (ESV)
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.”
Take this passage out of context and it’s totally confusing. What’s happening here is that Jesus is hammering home the point He’s been making – that they need a total change of perspective.
Remember, the disciples had just squabbled over who’s the greatest disciple. Then John reports that they tried to stop someone from casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Then they want to nuke some poor town for refusing them lodging. Wow, just wow. This is not good. Consider this.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. – Joshua 1:8
This verse doesn’t command people to give up on prosperity; it says if you obey God, you will be prosperous. The Old Testament teaches people that to be blessed you must trust and obey the Lord – but it (mostly) doesn’t change the definition of “blessed.” Now Jesus does.
We often talk about how Jesus wasn’t the messiah they were expecting. They expected a conquering King, but got a sacrificial lamb instead. That’s not all. Not only is the messiah not the worldly leader they were expecting, His disciples aren’t supposed to be the worldly followers they were expecting. The meaning of savior changed. So did the meaning of being saved.
This is why it’s called the kingdom of God (or the kingdom of heaven). It’s not like any earthly kingdom. The priorities of this world mean little to God.
Jesus needs His disciples to really “get it.” They’re supposed to lose the old perspective and take on the new perspective. If they keep this world’s view of what life is all about, they’re not really His disciples.
This passage makes perfect sense. Jesus is shaking them up.
Kingdom priorities should keep us from being irritated by the junk life throws at us. But just like the disciples, who were ready to take out a Samaritan town that refused them, we’re still a work in progress.
But the secret isn’t more effort; the secret is to admit that we can’t do this on our own. We grow by asking God for help. Invite the Holy Spirit to teach you and to mold you and even to try you.
Ask and ye shall receive.
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