“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in
.” – Luke 9:62 kingdom
A young man was eager to grow in his faith and serve Christ. So, he got out a piece of paper and made a list of all the things he would do for God. He wrote down the things he would give up, the places he would go to serve and the areas of ministry where he would volunteer. He was so excited. He took that list to church the next Sunday and placed it on the altar. He thought he would feel joy, but instead he felt empty.
So, he went home and started adding to his list. He wrote down more things he would give up, more places he would go to serve and more areas of ministry where he would volunteer. The next Sunday he put the longer list on the altar, but he still felt nothing. Feeling a bit hopeless, he went to a wise old pastor. He explained his situation and asked for help. The pastor said, “Take a blank sheet of paper. Sign your name at the bottom, and put that sheet on the altar.” The young man did, and peace came to his heart.
You see, this is the attitude we need to have: “Jesus, you fill in the details, and I’ll do it.” Do you have a blank sheet policy with Jesus?
In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus encountered three men who offered to follow him. Luke records those three quick conversations for us. They show that although our salvation is a free gift from God, following Jesus does come at a cost. And these three conversations help clarify what Jesus expects of his followers.
1. A complete sacrifice of our possessions. The first man who approached Jesus vowed, “I will follow you wherever you go” (v. 57). But evidently, the man’s promise to Jesus wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, because Jesus responded, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (v. 58). His point seems to have been this: “Friend, I don’t have a home here on earth. I’m homeless. I go wherever God the Father sends me, and I stay with whomever is willing to take me in. I’m not pulling around a U-haul trailer filled with all my stuff, because I only have the clothes on my back. If you’re serious about following me, you’ll need to do the same. So, what do you say?”
Jesus may not ask us to give up everything we own. But we’d better be sure that nothing we have comes before him in our hearts. If your stuff is getting in the way of following him, then Jesus will likely ask you to get rid of the stuff that has turned into an idol in your life.
2. A complete devotion to Jesus alone. The second man Jesus spoke to said he would follow Jesus, but first he wanted to “go and bury my father” (v. 59). Jesus responded, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the
” (v. 60). Now,
this isn’t as callous as it sounds. In first-century Jewish
culture, “bury my father” referred to the entire process of taking care of an
elderly father, burying him with dignity and disposing of his estate. So, in
all likelihood, this man’s father hadn’t died and probably wasn’t even close to
it. In other words, he was asking for an indefinite delay in following Jesus.
Therefore, Jesus’ message to the man was: “Let the spiritually dead bury their
own physically dead, but you go and proclaim the spiritual kingdom
of God .
The world needs to hear the gospel much more than your father needs to hear
your eulogy.” kingdom of God
Jesus’ response to this man was about realigning his priorities. Taking care of his father was not a bad thing—it was a good thing. But it wasn’t the most important thing. And as God’s word has taught us in the past, oftentimes, what is GOOD is the enemy of what is BEST.
3. A complete commitment to God’s kingdom mission. Finally, Jesus spoke to a third man who offered to follow him but said, “First let me go back and say goodbye to my family” (v. 61). Jesus’ answer in verse 62—“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the
have sounded harsh to a guy who just asked to say goodbye to his
parents. But Jesus’ point was this: “Once you leave your life of sin and
separation from God, it’s crazy to look back with a longing glance to your old,
dead life. If your old, dead life seems that alluring to you, then you should
just go back to it.” He was telling this man that to serve the kingdom of God , there was no turning back—no Plan B. kingdom of God
So, what is the cost of following Jesus? Well, it will cost you your sin. You’ll have to give that up. It will cost you your separation from God. You’ll have to give that up, too. It will cost you your earthly possessions. You’ll have to surrender your stuff to God for Him to use as He sees fit. It will cost you your screwed-up priorities and your procrastination. And it will cost you your Plan B. If you choose to follow Jesus Christ as Plan A, you’ll have to permanently scrap Plan B. You can’t look back. You follow and serve Christ with everything you’ve got, or you don’t follow Him at all. He deserves nothing less than your very best: your everything.
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church of Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah! Lessons You'll Never Forget From Bible Characters You Never Heard Of." Visit www.YourVictorvilleChurch.com, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.
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