The Priority of Following Jesus (Luke 9:57-62)
A few months ago we were at Costco looking at Traeger smokers. Our BBQ is on its last leg and we’ve heard good things about Traegers. After talking to the salesman, we were on the verge of leaving with one. But we decided to grab some lunch at the food court and think it over. Personally, I had every intention of going back and buying it, but after calling some folks we began to have second thoughts. We finished our lunch and left the store without speaking to the Traeger rep. We abandoned him.
Now I’m sure he’s fairly used to that. People who walk away probably rarely return. That’s why he suggested we reserve the floor model that day. He knew there was little chance of us returning. I didn’t lose much sleep about it, but the stakes weren’t very high.
In our passage this afternoon, we see three different individuals walking away from Jesus. Each of them have their own excuse. On the surface we might sympathize with their situations, but in the end, they were doing the same thing we did to that Traeger rep. They were walking away from an offer with little hope of returning. And Jesus knew that better than any of them.
There has been a competitive and selfish attitude among the disciples of Jesus that has consistently been met with rebuke. However, they had counted the cost of following Jesus and made the right decision. For all their faults, they were committed to Jesus. The proof is in what they had already been willing to give up. This passage is a commendation for them and all who are willing to make temporary sacrifices in this life in order to gain an imperishable reward.
Jim Elliot He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.
Are you willing to follow Jesus regardless of the cost? Receiving the free offer of the gospel might cost you everything. Is Jesus worth everything to you?
Read Luke 9:57-62
It’s easy for us to question the commitment of others. We all have our own idea of what commitment should look like. As a pastor I might consider attendance at worship services (especially the afternoon service!) to be the best indicator of our commitment to following Jesus. As a working father you might think commitment to Jesus looks like a willingness to sacrifice overtime in order to prioritize family. As a stay-at-home mother, you might think commitment to training up your children with biblical values as the pinnacle of sacrificial service to the Lord. As children, maybe you view honesty and helping out around the house as your obedience to Christ. All of these examples are good, especially the first one!
We all have some idea of what real commitment looks like, but let’s simply focus upon ourselves as we study this text. Let’s not point our finger at those who are not taking Christianity as seriously as we are, and simply consider whether there are some things Jesus wants to point out in our own lives that might need adjustment.
A life that follows close to Christ will experience its share of hardships, but we must remain urgent and focused in fulfilling our calling.
Jesus Is More Valuable Than Your Comfort (57-58)
We cannot sacrifice more than the gospel is worth. We ought to be willing to sell everything in order to gain a heavenly reward (Mt 19:21). Later on, Jesus will connect discipleship to renouncing everything we have (Lk 14:33).
We can expect to be uncomfortable in this life. We will experience the same kinds of things that Christ experienced. We will be rejected, mocked, and persecuted.
Hughes No one who commits to following Christ, and does so, lives a life of ease. No one. If your Christianity has not brought discomfort to your life, something is wrong.
Following Christ begins with a serious assessment of our willingness to endure to the end whatever the cost may be. Are we willing to take up our cross daily (Mt 16:24)? Are we ready to forsake everyone and everything that hinders our walk with Christ? Do you value Jesus more than your comfort?
Despite the hardships we are to be urgent in fulfilling the task.
Jesus Is More Important Than Your Obligations (59-60)
This doesn’t mean than the man’s father had just died. He is probably suggesting that he has an obligation to take care of his father until he dies. He won’t have the freedom to follow Jesus until he fulfills that obligation. But Jesus is clear, “Go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Aren’t we commanded to honor our father and mother? Didn’t Paul tell Timothy that a person is worse than an unbeliever if he is unwilling to take care of his own family (1 Tim 5:8)?
The kingdom of God supersedes every cultural commitment. At this time in redemptive history, there could be no greater obligation. The only proper response to Jesus’ command to follow him was an immediate departure. His mission left no time for other affairs.
Sproul Right now in terms of redemptive history nothing else matters. Let the dead bury the dead. Now Jesus was not setting down here a standard for all times, that we are always supposed to neglect our dead and wounded. No, he said, ‘Right now, the kingdom of God is at stake and there is only one place you can be and that is at the front line of the kingdom.’
The soldier is obligated to leave everything. The athlete makes serious dietary and exercise commitments in order to stay in the best shape. What does God require of you? Are his commands of first importance? No one, even family, can take the place of your obligation to the Lord. Is Jesus your first priority? Does your obligation to him remain central in every other obligation you have?
One of the clearest obligations we have is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Let us take up that mission with renewed urgency!
Not only should we be urgent, but our task requires a great deal of focus.
Jesus Is More Significant Than Your Family (61-62)
Jesus says we are not worthy of him if we love him less than we love our parents and children (Mt 10:37-38). Jesus will make the shocking statement, “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” (Lk 14:26). We will look at that passage more closely when we get there, but he is building towards that climax already in these verses.
This man who wants to first say goodbye to his family is likened to a farmer who places his hand on the plough and then looks back. I don’t know much about farming, but I know that when I’m moving forward and looking backward, I’m in danger of veering off course. You simply cannot give your full focus to two different purposes. Either you are committing your life to follow Christ’s mission, or you are continuing to live for yourself and others.
Elisha was in the middle of plowing a field when Elijah called him to follow, but he first asked to say farewell to his parents (1 Ki 19:19-21). In this instance, Elijah permitted him to return home for a parting meal. If Jesus is indeed making an allusion to this text, then we can assume that he is calling our attention to the greater importance of his ministry as compared to that of the other prophets. We must not delay in following Christ.
Jesus is probably also alluding to Lot’s wife who looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah and turned into a pillar of salt (Ge 19:26). That divided interest was proof that she wasn’t really committed to leaving and obeying.
Bock Those who cling to life on earth as it is are not ready for the reformation that salvation brings.
Is your relationship with Jesus more significant than every other relationship? Would others who know you agree?
Hendriksen In his wandering from place to place he, for whom there was no room in the inn, has no place on which he can figure to spend the night. As the story develops, Judea rejects him (Jn 5:18), Galilee casts him out (Jn 6:66), Gadara begs him to leave its district (Mt 8:34), Samaria refuses him lodging (Lk 9:53), earth will not have him (Mt 27:23), and finally even heaven forsakes him (Mt 27:46).
The cost of our redemption could not have been more steep, and yet Christ endured the shame in our place. Because of Christ’s death, we ought to live for him and no one else (2 Co 5:15).
The disciples exhibited the response Jesus expects of us all. They immediately left everything and followed him (Mt 4:20, 22; 9:9; Mk 1:20; Jn 1:40). Are you willing to do the same?