Fit for the Kingdom

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2021 ABC
Luke 9:57-62
Fit for the Kingdom
What is a disciple? What do disciples do? We are going learn something about being a disciple today.
Here, we see 3 would-be disciples and their responses to Jesus. As we look at each of these would-be moments, listen to what is said. Listen for the excuses. Listen to what Jesus is teaching them and us today.
While we may understand these verses to be chiefly applied to ministers, the application of this text can be understood for everyone. Matthew 10:37-39 – Love and commitment to Jesus must be primary.
57 – As they were going along, someone says to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go Jesus.” And Jesus, instead of throwing His arms wide open and saying, “come on brother,” Jesus lays out the life of following Him.
What does Jesus say to this would be or want-a-be disciple? The path of following Jesus is not easy, always safe and comfortable. It will not be a life free from pain. Now we don’t see clearly how this person responded to Jesus’ remarks. But it seems that this person hears these words and does not go with Jesus. We just see Jesus moving on.
59 – Jesus looks at another person and commands that person to follow Him. And what does this individual say? “Lord, first let me bury my father.” Now, Jesus teaches us to honor and to take care of our family… so let’s look at their context.
From what I read, there could be at least two things being said here. This expression, “I must bury my father,” was a common figure of speech that meant something like this: “Let me wait until I receive my inheritance.”
In other words… Dad might not be dead yet. He wants to wait until dad dies, get his inheritance money and then he will follow Jesus.
Another possibility is this: Burial, in Judaism, often involved a year-long period from when the body was first buried until a year later when the bones of the deceased were placed in an ossuary box.
I like what Warren Wiersbe said: “The second man is concerned about the wrong funeral; he should have taken up his cross, died to self, and obeyed God’s will.” What is this man doing? This man is making family excuses not to follow Jesus. This happens in the world today.
And how does Jesus respond to him? “Let the dead bury the dead, but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” The spiritual dead can take care of the physically dead. Jesus shows us that following Him takes priority over such matters.
61 – Another person shouts out, “I will follow you Lord, but let me first say good-bye to those at home.” And Jesus says something that is hard for us to here: “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit (suitable or usable) for the kingdom of God.”
Half-hearted service is not what Jesus is looking for.
(Picture) I have been looking at the rows in the fields. I see a lot of fields with beautiful, straight rows, almost too straight. There are many tractors with GPS systems that help keep them that straight. Before GPS systems, you had to look ahead.
But with a mule… and a plow… you got to be all in. You don’t have time to look back. You must be focused; you must be committed to what you’re doing. If you look back, you are going to mess up the field. You are going to mess up the work. You are going to get off course. And this is not your field that you are plowing; this is not your work. This is the Father’s work, the Father’s field, the Father’s business.
All three men emphasize this priority: Me first… then you Jesus. (You are not fit/ready/suitable/usable.)
Jesus told the disciples to pray at some point in Matthew 9:38, that God would send laborers out into the fields, because the labor is great, the harvest is plentiful… but the laborers are few. Why? This may be the reason: “Me first… then you.” No wonder the laborers are few.
“I will follow but… I will follow, but first… I will follow when… these conditions are met first… Let’s negotiate Jesus… Let’s negotiate the terms of salvation and kingdom living, kingdom work. Let’s talk about this.” We do not get to negotiate the terms, Jesus does.
To look back is not to have some doubts along the way or to struggle with faith from time to time. This looking back is a half-hearted picture, and lip-service without action. This is a picture of Lot’s wife leaving a land of sin, looking back because she doesn’t want to leave it. She loves the world more than God. She loves sin more than righteousness. She loves comfort without God more than the discomfort with God. (This is found in Genesis 19)
And the only way she would become the salt of the earth was by turning her into a salt block. Her heart was in the wrong place. God says, “Don’t look back,” but what does the insincere do? Turn back.
Jesus does not coddle these men; He just keeps walking on. He helps them to see what they really want and exposes the hypocrisy. He helps them to see what their real treasure is. He exposes their hearts for them to see and leaves them to respond.
1. When it comes to Jesus calling you to follow Him, to be His disciple, He is not going to negotiate with you. He will simply command “Follow Me.” We either surrender all and follow Him or we will stay in our sin and with our worldly treasure.
2. How will we respond to Him? What are our excuses? I will but… I will but first… I will when… Let me first do this/that… Let me turn back first… Let me keep one leg in and one leg out… Keep me comfortable and pain free… First me… Let me, me, me…
And Jesus is walking on.
Have we not counted the cost to following Jesus? Have we not counted the cost of being a disciple of Jesus? Do we not realize the cost of imitating Him, witnessing for Him, spending time with Him, wrestling with Him… Do we not realize that following Jesus will cost us everything, our lives?
Jesus never says that the life of a Christian would be easy. He simply lets us know that following Him is worth it. Scripture teaches us that He is worth it; He is worth the pain.
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