August 21, 2015
Luke 9:59, 60
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
The scripture for this blog is from Luke 9:59 and 60:
Then He [Jesus] said to another, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me
first to go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their
own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
This is from the end of Luke chapter 9, the last six verses, where Jesus is interacting with three men who have been challenged in one way or another to follow the Lord.
• The first man volunteered in verse 56, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus’ replied in verse 57, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
“…nowhere to lay His head…”? Well, nowhere apparent! The Father always provided for His Son, and Jesus slept soundly wherever He laid His head – even if it was in the back of a boat on the sea of Galilee in a raging storm (see Luke 8:22-24)! The perfect peace that filled the Lord and allowed Him to sleep was more valuable than a five star Jerusalem hotel!
Apparently this first man did not follow Jesus when he learned of the hardships involved.
• The second man is the one featured in our scripture – and we will get back to him in a moment.
• The third man enthusiastically told Jesus in verse 61, “Lord, I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” The Lord’s answer in verse 62 sounds hard in light of this seemingly reasonable request: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The problem with the man’s request to say goodbye to his family and friends is that it would take quite a bit of time in this ancient middle-eastern culture to do that. We get an idea of this from Genesis 24. Abraham had sent his servant, Eliezer, to Ur of the Chaldees to find and bring back a bride for his son Isaac. God’s direction led him to Rebekah, the granddaughter Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Having told the girl’s family of his mission, the servant wanted to leave the next morning on the thousand-mile trip back to his master’s home in Hebron, taking Rebekah with him to marry Isaac. Although Rebekah’s family was favorably inclined to the idea of marrying off the young woman to a wealthy relative, her brother Laban made this request: “Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten; after that she may go.” (Genesis 24:55).
‘Goodbyes’ in that culture might require a month-long party! Jesus had a mission to accomplish – and limited time to accomplish it! In a month’s time (or even ten days), where would He be? How would this one who wanted to “…bid them farewell who are at my house…” find the Master after that time period?
Back to the second man: “…he said, ‘Lord, let me first to go and bury my father.’ ” But his father was most likely still very much alive! What he was saying was this: “It is my responsibility to take care of my aging father. After he has died, I will be free to follow You, Jesus.” But how long would his father live – a few months more, ten years more? How long did Jesus have for His earthy ministry? At the most, three and a half years!
But the real problem is not in the time factor involved. And I am highlighting the second man because he is the first of the three to put into words the main problem with which all three dealt – the problem of “…Me First…”!
• The first man didn’t express these exact words, but he was after the thrill of following a famous person who was attracting all sorts of attention. He was a ‘groupie’! Merriam-Webster defines a groupie as “a fan of an athlete or celebrity who tries to see the athlete or celebrity as often as possible.” Webster’s College Dictionary adds a groupie is “an ardent fan of a celebrity or of a particular activity.” He wanted the excitement and the glory of this miracle man Jesus to rub off on him – “Me First”!
• The second man put his family before the Lord – “Me First”! What did the Lord say in Matthew 10:37? “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Jesus Christ demands first place in our lives!
• The third man is similar to the second, except he was willing to leave family and friends – but on his terms! Jesus added in Matthew 10:38, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” The cross is an instrument to put the one carrying it to death! There is no “Me First” to the one who takes up his cross to follow Jesus!
Do you have a “Me First” problem? Then I implore you make Jesus’ prayer of Luke 22:42 yours. It was prayed to the Father just before the Lord shouldered His cross on our behalf: “…nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”