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.” …. But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”….Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 58,60,62
After reading Luke 9:57-62, one might think that in order to be a disciple one has to volunteer for homelessness, skip family burials or shun family and friends. I think it is more complicated than that. Each man had his unique hesitation to discipleship which Jesus perceived and addressed with brutal directness. So what shall we take away from Luke's story? We should expect that following Jesus will entail hardship and uncertainty about many things. This was too much for the first man. As ones who are called by Jesus to follow him, as was the second man, there are many understandable duties and worthy activities to which we should attend. But we should be aware that these duties and activities can become excuses to defer or ignore what God is asking us to do. The final man merely asked to say farewell to family and friends. Why did Jesus take a harsher line than Elijah took with Elisha in 1 Kings? Perhaps Jesus knew that for this man looking back would mean drawing back – commitment would always be difficult with the human chains which bound him.
Only discernment can help us avoid the pitfalls of these well intentioned men. By staying close to God through prayer, worship and reading scripture we can hope to be alert to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. When we feel that nudge, we should not be afraid or hesitate, but push forward. We can trust that God will bless our efforts, however imperfect, and lead us to fulfilling our roles as disciples within the circumstances of our lives.
Mary Beth Frederick
Prayer: Gracious Lord, by your grace help me to avoid timidity, procrastination and fear of commitment on my journey as your disciple. Amen.