Summary: In order to be truly used by God, three things need to part of your life.
Luke 9:57-62 "Fit For Service"
By Rev. Mark Hiehle
On Memorial Day weekend, we take time to remember the men and women who have served our country and who made many sacrifices ,so that you and I could enjoy the freedoms we have today. In preparation for this morning, The Lord kept bringing to my mind the word "service." We say that during Memorial Day, we honor those who were in the service. Those in the armed services, who were willing to lay down their lives for freedom. As I searched the scriptures around the word "service," the Lord brought me to our passage this morning. Three men are talked to by our Lord, and Jesus summarized his encounters by saying, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
Whenever I walk through the mall, I pass the Army Recruiter Office and notice all the incentive posters and slogans in the windows. "Sign up today and receive $50,000 for college!" "Get a $20,000 signing bonus!" "Join the Navy and see the world!" "You can Fly High in the US Air Force!" "We are looking for a few good men, can you be one of us?" Those are great incentives, aren’t they? They talk about travel, college, bonuses, pride and belonging. Each of those slogans appeal to visions of adventure, success, and having a sense of pride that, you are special. But there is something that isn’t mentioned that goes with being in the service.
Sacrifice, and being willing to count the cost.
In Luke 9:57, this was the first man’s situation. "As they were walking along the road, a man said to him (Jesus), "I will follow you wherever you go." This man had a desire to follow Jesus and be apart of the adventure and drama of seeing miracles take place and enjoy the special position of being seen as one of Jesus’ followers. It is as though he had seen the posters of travel and excitement and said, "I’ll sign up!" But notice Jesus’ response in verse 58, "Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Jesus stripped away the romance of the posters and revealed the reality of what following Him would cost. There is a cost to be a true disciple of Jesus, and being fit for service. What does, being fit for service mean? It means to Give Up, God First and Get Ready. The first requirement for service, is being willing to leave everything behind.
The first man to speak to Jesus said he would follow him anywhere. Jesus replied with, "I have no home or bed." The implication is, "Are you still willing to follow me under those same conditions?" The man’s true commitment was being put to the test just as the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17 was tested. Was the man willing to pay the price to really follow Jesus? Luke does not tell us the man’s response, but the rich young ruler who was told to sell all he had, turned and walked away, because he had much wealth. When you are fit for service in the military, it means that you have made the decision to leave your former life behind and follow the orders of your Commander in Chief. You are willing to leave at a moments notice and sleep in places not your home. Disciples in the Army of the Lord are called to leave everything behind and follow their Commander and Chief. They are to consider this world as a place in which they are just passing through. This is not their home. Because this is not their home, they are willing to move, follow orders and abandon all, for the call to service. Are you fit for service? Cory Ten Boom once said that the way to live as a Christian, is to have shallow tent pegs. Are your tent pegs in deep? If God called you to leave your home and all that you have, would you be able to pull up your tent pegs and leave it all behind? Being fit for service means, being willing to give up and go with God.
The second man that Jesus spoke to answered Jesus’ call by saying, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." The words of Jesus seem very harsh, but we must remember that the Lord knows our hearts and he knew this man’s heart. The excuse for not following Jesus was that he wanted to first, bury his father. The text does not tell us if the father was already dead but he probably was still alive. During the time of this conversation, Jewish law commanded that there was a set time period a family had to bury the dead. If the father had already died, the man probably would have already been at home with the family as they were mourning and preparing for the burial. The man in Luke 9:59 wanted to postpone his following the Lord because he wanted to put his family before Jesus. God will never take second place in our lives. He deserves our first priority and highest allegiance. In order to be fit for service, we must give up our security here, and put God before anything or anyone, even our families. In Jesus’ answer, He is telling us that we need to have our priorities straight. We must love God with all ou heart, soul, mind and strength. God must be first, then others and finally ourselves.