Summary: Many will follow Jesus half-way, but not the other half.
The Parable Of The Fox, The Funeral And The Furrow
“A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing
and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.”
A Different Breed
America Under Attack – America At War – Siege On America – The Day That Shook America – The Day The U.S. Stood Still, these and other similar titles have blanketed the TV, radio and print media for the past several weeks. The hijacking and destruction of four jetliners, the complete destruction of the World Trade Towers, the partial destruction of the Pentagon and more importantly, a death toll of about 5000 people, will forever be burned into the hearts and minds of both Americans and Canadians. Indeed, this was America’s Pearl Harbour of the 21st century.
In the midst of this terror on America, I, like many of you, witnessed something incredible. We witnessed the bravery and commitment of New York City emergency workers: fire, police and EMS technicians. Hundreds of these courageous men and women entered the burning World Trade Towers to evacuate people. When the titanic-like towers collapsed, 300 firefighters, 70 police officers and an unknown number of EMS technicians perished. In Time magazine these words were printed, “On a normal day, we value heroism because it is uncommon. On September 11, we valued heroism because it was everywhere (Sept. 12th – online).”
People Weekly magazine quoted one New Yorker as saying of the firefighters, “They’re a different breed. You’ve been taught to run out of a burning building. They’re taught to run in (Sept. 24th).” On September 11th, some 370 emergency workers of New York made the supreme sacrifice in order to save others from injury and death. They had no second thoughts about their task or allegiance to the cause – for them there was no turning back. They had long ago made a commitment to rescue others and that fateful September morning they sealed it with their very lives. They are looked upon today as the valiant white knights of America. They are heralded as the “new princes of the city – a new breed of hero (People Weekly – Oct. 12th).”
All For Jesus
The Bible speaks about heroes: heroes not of fire fighting or policing, but rather heroes of faith. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Rahab and David are just a few of those commended in the New Testament book of Hebrews for their great faith – heroes in the sight of God (Hebrews 11). Among these champions of faith are Christians who are un-named but included – people who faced persecution and death for the sake and purposes of Christ.
Like the emergency workers of New York – committed to the cause of bodily rescue, even to the point of death, these Christians were committed to the cause of spiritual rescue. Their commitment also often resulted in death. They, like the New York City firefighters, were a different breed. They too had stood resolute in their allegiance and commitment to their cause - serving Christ.
The Bible declares that those who choose to follow Jesus today are also to do so without hesitation or reservation. Absolute loyalty is to be the norm, not the exception. Christians are to live by the motto which banners Mary D. James’ hymn – “All For Jesus.” To be a Christian is to commit, without wavering, to the work of the kingdom of God. Kingdom priorities become our priorities – Jesus’ priorities become our priorities. “Discipleship means nothing less than being ready to obey Christ as unconditionally as the first disciples,” writes Brennan Manning the author of The Signature Of Jesus.
The Fox, The Funeral And The Furrow
The Gospel of Luke 9:57-62 will receive our attention this morning. In these six verses, Jesus spells out the depth of commitment He expects from followers. He is looking for a different breed of disciple, one who after committing himself to the cause will not harbor second thoughts about it.
“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another man, "Follow me. "But the man replied, "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." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:57-62).
On His way to Jerusalem Jesus is approached in some fashion by three potential disciples. What seems striking is the response He gives to each of these candidates. The Lord’s reply to each volunteer, so-to-speak, makes one ask the question, “What does the Lord expect of those who seek to follow Him?” For He seems to turn away more would be disciples than He takes on. In the end, however, we’ll discover that being a disciple of Jesus involves being, as was said of the New York firefighters, a ‘different breed’.