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Sometimes it’s very easy for us to make bold statements of devotion to people – people we love, people whose commitment or devotion we desire, or people we want to impress.

Luke 9:57-62

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

If it applies to you, think back to some statements of undying love and devotion you might have made to a girlfriend/boyfriend when you were a teenager. We might think back on these now with shame or embarrassment.

Similarly, we who take on the name of Christian as followers of Jesus can very easily make similar statements of devotion and commitment sometimes without thinking through what the costs of such statements might entail over a lifetime.

The first man in this scene is doing a good thing in stating that he wants to follow Jesus wherever he goes. But he doesn’t quite understand that this following might include giving up the security of knowing where he will lay his head each day. Jesus challenges another to follow him, but he replies that he wants to bury his father first. Jesus is not being harsh here in his reply about letting the dead bury their own dead. The assumption is that this man’s father is still very much alive but he wants to wait until he no longer has the responsibility of the father-son relationship before he decides to follow Jesus. And it seems the third enquirer wants to ensure that his old life is neatly tied up and everything settled before he embarks on following Jesus.

But life isn’t like that. We are called to follow Jesus where we are, within the midst of our busy, messy lives that already have multiple responsibilities. Our challenge is to make Jesus our priority above and beyond all the other priorities in our life.

But we see something else here. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to secure the kingdom of God and to make a way for us to be included in his kingdom. We can be thankful that Jesus put his hand to the plough – his walk to his death in our place – and that he didn’t look back. Our commitment will never be 100% no matter how hard we try. We have ongoing concerns involving having a roof over our heads and family commitments that will impact from time to time on our expression of devotion to Jesus. We can thank God that our place in the kingdom doesn’t depend on our performance in these ways but on Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Head: What are the issues in your life at the moment that are negatively impacting your ability to walk more closely with Jesus?

Heart: Are there sinful attitudes or behaviours stemming from your heart that you need to say goodbye to as part of your old life?

Hands: What is one priority you could start to change this week to bring it more in line with Jesus’ call on your whole life to follow him?

Prayer: Dear Father God – We can so easily identify with the three men in this passage who are challenged to follow Jesus but come up with excuses. We thank you that Jesus went to Jerusalem to the cross to secure our future with you. We thank you that when you look upon us with our often feeble efforts to follow Jesus – you see his righteousness and not our sin. But please help us to follow Jesus more closely and completely and at the same time to honour our earthly relationships, loving others with your love. Amen.

A song to listen to: Centre My Life

Tim Hewlett – Living Church Creek Road

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