Scripture: Luke 9:51-62
Key verses: (57-62) 57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And 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.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Reflection: Jesus has a way of interrupting our plans. They aren’t always bad plans. Like those he encountered on the road to Jerusalem, and called to follow him, we have reasonable expectations for the way things should go. When Jesus invites someone on the road to follow him, and they first want to bury their father, most of us will think, “Of course. That should come first.” Likewise, we understand the one who wants to say good-bye to his family before following Jesus. But Jesus’ responses are clear that for his followers the kingdom of God must take priority over everything else, even the important things that we value. When we follow Jesus, what matters most shifts away purely from ourselves, to matters of the kingdom.
In reflecting on this story, commentator David Lose asks this: “Does Jesus make a noticeable difference in our lives? Does the grace, mercy, and love of God made incarnate in Jesus trump our plans and shape our lives, or do we shape our faith to fit the lives we’ve already planned?” These are hard questions. We like making plans and captaining our own ships. We like controlling our destinies. We like to think we can serve Jesus best this way. But the one we follow and serve is the one who went to Jerusalem in order to lay down his life. He gave up all control in order to manifest the grace and power of God. And when it comes right down to it, that is what we also assent to when we follow him.
Lose also says this: “So what if the deepest calling of a Christian disciples isn’t to be in control – ourselves or vicariously through God – but rather to give up the illusion, to take some risks, and to throw ourselves into this turbulent life and world God loves so much trusting that God will join us in the adventure, hold onto us through all the ups and downs, and brings us in time to the other side. Maybe, just maybe, that’s faith. And when we, like Jesus’ first disciples, fall short yet again, then all we can do is give thanks that Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem not just with us but also for us, taking on our chaotic lot and joining us in our turbulent lives that we may know that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing.”
Prayer: Lord, I am thankful that you have called me to follow you. Forgive me when I think my plans must be better than yours. Forgive me for always wanting to maintain control of my life. Help me trust that you are not just with me, but also for me. Give me eyes for the way to your kingdom. Or at least enough sense to stay close to you on the way. In your name I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].