Summary: How do we respond when asked to follow Christ. Do we shoot out a quick "Yeah but.." ?
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went to another village. 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
“Can We Follow Where He Leads?”
Have you ever been in a hurry to get where you are going? How about… when you are only an hour out from your destination… on a 12 hour trip… with the kids screaming in the back… your head pounding… your patience running thin… and your destination just can’t come quickly enough. Minutes feel like hours on a trip like that don’t they? You get to the point where you become determined just to make it. Perhaps we can sympathize a little bit with Jesus in our scripture text this morning. He was determined to make his destination… although the way the NIV puts it, Jesus “resolutely” set out for Jerusalem.
Actually, in the literal Greek, Luke mentions this journey 6 times. This is obviously important to the story. Jesus is going somewhere. He is not a drifter. He is not a vagrant. He is not a wanderer.
Jesus is the man with the plan. He is moving forward. He is on the 11th hour of a 12 hour trip and he is determined to accomplish his final goal. And what is the goal? What awaits for him at Jerusalem? The Journey is not a literal Point A to Point B following Mapquest’s handy dandy instructions. The journey that Jesus is resolutely following is the journey to the cross. As far as geography, we could assume that Jesus was following a broken GPS because following these verses he goes over here, then over here, then over here, then over here again. Jesus is on a journey towards the cross, and there is no time to lose.
Yet, there is still some time to stop and gather more followers! He would save everyone who followed him soon enough on the cross… but first he needed more to follow him. And we hear about his first stop in Samaria. And what happens?
Jesus hears a response that God hears far… far… too often. No thank you! Why? Because he was going to Jerusalem. Now it could be that Samaria just hated Jerusalem the way we hate Pontiac the week of the Pontiac – Prairie Central football game… but I believe it goes so much deeper than that. Remember, Jesus was not only going to Jerusalem as a physical location… he was also going to the cross. Jesus is inviting the Samaritans to follow him on a path of pain, and trial. They know that Jesus teaches it will be worth it, but that it won’t be easy! And their response? Keep moving. We’re not buying. Have fun on your little pain and suffering Journey. They like so many others… like the idea of following Christ, but are not willing to pay the price of following Christ.
Now before Jesus can leave this town in the dust, before he takes a single step… the disciples step up to prove once again how brilliant, amazing, and perfect they are for being the “chosen” ones to follow Christ.
The indignant disciples who are “Oh So Ready” to condemn the Samaritans… the outsiders… the ignorant... the stubborn… the… well let’s just stop there… these disciples show us how even Jesus closest followers sometimes aren’t always the sharpest tools in the shed. James and John personally go to Jesus, I imagine with noses high in the air, and say “let’s call fire down from heaven and nuke these ingrates let the have “what for.” That will show them.” Don’t you just love how they phrase this “request”… let US call down fire. Scripture says that Jesus rebuked them. But can’t you about imagine how that conversation could have gone?