After Jesus sets out for Jerusalem, Luke 9 records three mini-episodes of reactions from potential disciples. They illustrate the cost of following Jesus. As we proceed through the Lenten season toward Holy Week, let us pause to learn from the three responses.
Episode 1: The Cost is Too High
There is no evidence that this fellow followed. When Jesus presents him with the harsh realities of being his disciple, he does count the cost, and he stays home.
Prayer: May we not see our journey to the cross with Jesus in a way that ignores sacrifice, hardship and commitment. Amen.
Episode 2: Responsibilities Trumping Discipleship
A simple reading of this text is troubling for many people. Jesus seems to be a hard-hearted fellow, denying this potential disciple the dignity of taking care of his recently deceased father. But that is not what is happening. The man’s father is still living. He is declining the call to follow Jesus so that he can wait until his father dies, until all of his family responsibilities are settled.
It doesn’t work that way, then or now. The call to follow Jesus is immediate and cannot be delayed. Our journey with him to the cross must begin now.
Prayer: May we not delay in following Jesus, but point our faces like flint to the cross. Amen.
Episode 3: Not Quite Ready
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
As with the previous episode, Jesus seems to be asking too much of this man. Couldn’t Jesus wait a few hours for the man to say goodbye?
But Jesus’ answer reveals what is afoot. To look back while plowing would result in crooked rows, perhaps damage to the precious plow by hitting a rock while not watching. We must look at our leader when following and we must follow.
Does Jesus ask too much? Yes, of course he does, for he demands everything from his disciples. And he does not want to wait. The time to follow is now.
Prayer: May we follow Christ with abandon, not looking back, not harboring regrets, and never holding back. Amen.
Let us make this, the second full week of Lent, a time when we examine our disciple relationship and make new commitments to follow, no matter the cost.
Nebraska Christian College