Summary: We all have excuses for not responding to Jesus' call to follow him. Life is hectic, complicated and filled with items that claim our attention. We have one reason, though, to respond to Jesus' challenge--his love and grace.
One of the most memorable illustrations that I’ve ever seen involved a glass container similar to what I have here and rocks of various sizes. Using the rocks the demonstrator underscored and important lesson in life. Just when we thought that the container was full, the demonstrator found stones of a smaller size that would fit. At the end of the demonstration the presenter ask what lessons could be learned. One hand shot up and a young man said, “I learned that I can always cram more things into my life.” The presenter shook his head. “The lesson he wanted to convey,” he said, “Was that it is important to make sure that you put the important things in your life first, otherwise you won’t have room for them.”
The end of Jesus’ ministry on earth is drawing near. Luke records that Jesus has, “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” He neither veers to the right or the left. As his days on earth become shorter, the intensity of his ministry increases.
Several people have heard about Jesus. They have probably heard him preach and may have also seen Jesus accomplish various miracles. They want to follow Jesus and become his disciples.
• One man wants to follow Jesus, but Jesus knows that he has not counted the cost of following Jesus. He saw all of the glory of following Jesus and none of the cost. When Jesus talked to him about having no place to lay his head, the man quickly receded into the crowd. Following Jesus was not an important priority in his life.
• Jesus extends an invitation to the second man and invites the man to follow him. The man agrees to follow Jesus, but wants to first complete some family obligations—burying his father—before his does so. Again, following Jesus is not of primary importance for him. Jesus refuses the man’s request and instructs the man to “Let the dead bury their dead.”
• A third man wants to follow Jesus, but first he wants to say good-bye to everyone. Jesus reminds him that anyone who puts their hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. Kingdom work is the first priority.
FOLLOWING JESUS TODAY
Our lives are busy and complicated. Demands on our time come from all sectors: family, job, friends, personal needs, etc. We may simplify our lives, but that will not automatically assure that we are able to accomplish our priorities.
Sometimes our lives are dominated by the small things—the squeaks. We want to focus on the important things of life, but we get sidetracked with errands, “honey-do-lists,” the sports activities and extra-curricular events of our children, flat tires, leaky faucets, and even a rerun of “Everyone Love Raymond.”
The demonstration reminds us that it is important to first engage in our life’s greatest priorities, and then let the other demands of life fill up our lives.
So what are the priorities of our lives? This is a question that each of us will need to answer. As a Christian, I think our priorities need to be: