Summary: By forcing the reader to see what it means to serve Jesus in extreme circumstances, Luke challenges us to consider the depth of our own personal discipleship.
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Hard Sayings of Jesus - Luke 9:57-62
“The Truly Committed Don’t Look Back”
In America there is a mountainous forest called the “Bridger Wilderness Area”.
Let me say that again the Bridger WILDERNESS Area.
The idea is to go there and have a genuine wilderness experience. After you visit the park you are encouraged to hand in a comment card about your experience. Here are some of the comments that have been handed in over the years.
• Too many bugs, leeches, spiders and spider webs. Please spray the forest to get rid of these pests.
• Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to walk to them.
• A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed?
These comments make it very clear that some of the people who visited the park did not really understand what it means to have a "genuine wilderness experience". They wanted a wilderness experience, as long as it was convenient and comfortable.
And sometimes we want our Christianity to be like that as well – don’t we.
We say we are ready to run the race.
We say we are eager to count the costs.
We say we are prepared to suffer.
We say we are willing to carry the cross.
We want the “Christians in the wild experience”.
BUT DO WE?
DO WE REALLY?
As we think about this question let’s read a passage from Scripture.
As Jesus focuses on the issue of what it means to be a disciple we firstly read about a very unique man in verse 57.
He is one of only a few people in the New Testament who come up to Jesus and initiate the discussion by saying, “I want to follow you”.
The disciples were asked by Jesus to follow.
Others follow Jesus after they see a miracle.
Many follow Jesus because they are just curious.
So we have a disciple who takes the initiative and seems really enthusiastic.
But is he serious?
To find out Jesus makes a statement of fact.
Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.
Jesus is not saying, “I can never find a place to sleep”. We know for example that fell fast asleep in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus not saying, “No-one cares for Me”. Lazarus was a great host and Jesus would stay at his house when He was in town.
Rather Jesus is making an important point about His place in this world.
The world is not my home – I am just passing through.
If a house is your home you settle in in, don’t you.
You paint walls. You rearrange furniture. You fill it with your stuff.
You settle in and relax.
When you are a visitor you don’t do any of that.
You don’t become attached and you act appropriately.
Following Jesus means knowing that this world is not our home.
“Home is where your heart is”.
That is the saying we use in Australia.
If our heart is with God … then our home is in heaven. That is how disciples live.
So a challenge is being put before us all.
Do we really want the “Christians in the wild experience”?
Where we stand out because people see our heart for Jesus and our commitment to God.
Or have we been content to just settle in and act like we are home.
Where we just fit in, and settle down?
Think about it as we look at the next man.
The man in verse 59 is invited by Jesus to be a disciple.
But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
You would have to say that this seems like a very reasonable request.
Every culture in every part of the world has some sort of ceremony which marks the death of an individual and not doing so can be seen as an act of disgrace.
Indeed burial is of such significance that priest who served at the temple were given special permission to be at the ceremony.
1 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean for any of his people who die, 2 except for a close relative, such as his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother, 3 or an unmarried sister who is dependent on him since she has no husband—for her he may make himself unclean. (Leviticus 21:1-3).
This man is not asking for anything more than the special permission that was given to priests.