Luke 9: 57-62
57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but YOU go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
There’s a phobia for this fear called Gamophobia (which is an excessive fear of something that actually presents little danger, but nonetheless makes you anxious when considering a long-term commitment. Maybe, it’s due to Pistanthrophobia (a phobia of getting hurt by someone in a romantic relationship). Or a Philophobia which is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of falling in love, this is beyond just a typical apprehensiveness about it. This phobia is so intense that it interferes with your life. Symptoms can vary from person to person. And so we have a society full of people who has a fear of commitment or as I will call them Gamophobes, Pistanthrophobes or Philophobes
We are fearful because we fear this ten-letter word that symbolizes accountability, integrity, and discipline.
From month-to-month apartment leases to month to month gym memberships, from refusal to sign a cell phone contract to job or career hopscotch, from couples just living together to going from partner to partner, from rejecting intimacy to refusing marriage, from prenuptial agreements to seeking separation or divorce, from the necessity of contracts to legal loopholes. We see this in staying distant from friends and family… It is seen in our inability to get seriously involved in projects…It is seen in our inability to make long-term friendships or connections. It is experienced in uncertainty or indecisiveness concerning the many things in our lives. We live in a culture is characterized by a lack of or fear of commitment.
Nevertheless, I want us to conquer our Fear of commitment…
And make a commitment to our friends
A commitment to our families
A commitment to our children
A commitment to our spouses
A commitment to our church
A commitment to Jesus…
Commitment means pledging yourself to a position no matter the price tag, pledging yourself to a stance no matter what the cost. But if you make the effort to invest in godly commitments, the returns will be awesome. God wants us to make the right commitments in life. So God sent Jesus on a great search for people who will make an uncompromising commitment to follow Him. God wants to change us from fair weather fans of God to committed followers of Jesus. Luke 9:57-62 describes Jesus’ call to commitment. Luke introduces three people who wanted to join Jesus on His journey. He teaches us that being a disciple of Jesus requires a focused commitment.
My First point is…
I. THE CASUAL COMMITTER, 9:57-58.
1ST Jesus addresses mere involvement versus real commitment. The first volunteer in verse 57 doesn’t understand the depth of commitment necessary to follow Jesus. “As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” (LIES!!!) Jesus didn’t even ask this man to follow Him…
The first man in this passage makes a very powerful and profound promise to Jesus that he would follow Him wherever He went. I believe that the man was sincere. He wanted to follow Jesus. He wanted to be a part of what Jesus was doing, and he wanted to make a difference. All of these intentions are good things that might motivate some of us but a desire to be involved in the action is not enough. A desire to serve must also be coupled with the right reason and right motivation for serving. It would seem that the man described here was willing to be involved with the ministry of Jesus and there was nothing wrong with that other than the fact that Jesus was looking for something more. Jesus was looking for his full and total commitment. For if your desire for material gain is a greater priority than following Jesus, it will destroy your commitment.
Jesus’ response in verse 58 was that a person desiring to follow Him must give up what others consider necessities. “And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
The man wanted to follow Jesus but Jesus challenged him to understand the commitment to self-denial, sacrifice, service and suffering that was necessary. The sad reality is that most people settle for being involved without ever making a commitment. There is a massive difference between being involved and being committed.
Being involved means that you can do what you want, as you want and when you feel like doing it.
Commitment means that you are at the call of Jesus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
No one shouldn’t have to ask you if you’re coming to church.
No one shouldn’t have to text or post a reminder for you to come to what you committed to…
To make the decision, consciously or unconsciously, to just be involved creates a system of falling short. We fall short or cheat God by not giving Him our best. We fall short of fully offering ourselves and we cheat ourselves of the blessings of Christ that come only when we become committed. Far too often we settle for being involved in the work of Christ without actually making a commitment to it.
Commitment is what Jesus is looking for in all of our lives. I commend you for your commitment to be in God’s house on Sunday morning, which is a far more commitment than most of our families, friends and neighbors have. God though wants us to have the desire to serve Him not just on Sunday morning but each and every day that we draw breath.
If you make the decision to show up on Sunday morning and that is the limit to your commitment, you won’t grow deep in your walk with God. Why do I say this? It takes a commitment to give yourself to the work and ministry of Christ to have a growing relationship with Him. It takes a commitment to study and know the Word of God to become deeper in your walk with Him. It takes a desire to put our priorities in line with God’s priorities. This means that He is first and foremost in our life. Anything that comes between us and God or our commitment to God and His kingdom is a stumbling block in our spiritual life.
II. THE CAUTIOUS COMMITTER, 59-60.
Jesus next addresses the problem of misplaced priorities. In verse 59 Jesus calls a man with the same words with which He had called His disciples (5:27). “And He said to another, “Follow Me!” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” What great blessing it is to hear Jesus’ call to “follow Me”…
Jesus calls him to become part of His inner circle. But the man wanted to be a follower of Jesus on his own terms and in his own time. It is likely that the man’s father was ready to die. (The man must not know he was talking to the man who could stop his father from dying and completely heal him). His request was to let him wait just a little while before following Jesus. Perhaps the man also wanted to receive the inheritance from his father’s estate. This man assumed that commitment to family came before commitment to Jesus. He said he would commit himself fully to Jesus in the future, but he had other pressing obligations in the present. Jesus’ answer in verse 60 shocked not only the man, but it shocks us as well. “But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
As important as our commitment to taking care of a family member is, it is not as important as our commitment to Jesus. Jesus’ response, “Let the dead bury their own dead,” implies that the spiritually dead can bury the physically dead. God does not hold us responsible for taking care of the dead but for the living. The point is that proclaiming the kingdom of God is so important that it could not wait. There is nothing wrong with caring for your family because your family is a gift from God and you are instructed by Scripture to take care of them. Jesus is driving at the issue of priority.
Jesus wants us to make Him first in our lives and no other place will do. [Of course if the man had left and followed Jesus, it would have caused a scandal in the community. But that was less important than proclaiming the kingdom and following the Messiah.] A disciple, a follower of Jesus, must make a radical commitment. Commitment to Jesus must take precedence over all other earthly commitments. It is because Jesus is all-important to life and to the kingdom of God that following Him above any and everyone else is so important. Jesus also wanted the man to understand the urgent nature of His mission.
Jesus came into this world to save us from the power of sin and death. The mission of the church should be the same, to reach a lost and dying world with the message of saving grace through Jesus. However, we get so busy that we never seem to get to the real work of sharing the gospel with others. Jesus wanted the man to understand that there was an urgency to winning lost people. It is an urgency that I believe that most churches have lost.
We must understand that, if we are truly going to follow Christ, we must get our hands dirty in the work of outreach. There is a lost and dying world out there that needs the hope that we have in Christ. A great problem in the church today is that we have misplaced our focus. We focus on programs and procedures instead of focusing on ministry and people. If we fail to reach people, we are not failing the church or the community; we are failing Christ Himself.
III. THE CAREFUL COMMITTER, 61-62.
Jesus next addresses the problem of misdirected focus. A third scene in verse 61 describes a man who wants to follow Jesus in just a little bit, but not immediately. “Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” “I’ll follow You, Lord,” said the third man, “but let me talk it over with my family. Let me see what they say about following You so radically.” It seems to us like a reasonable request to us, but Jesus searches the heart and knows the mind (Luke 5:20, 22; 6:8; John 1:47; 2:25; 21:17). He knew that it would be dangerous for him to return home for his priorities were not yet established. He was not yet solidified that in all-things Jesus must be pre-eminence (Col. ). Knowing that he would fall prey to the fervent and emotional appeal to stay home Jesus challenges him to full commitment in verse 62. “But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Again Jesus makes a statement that sounds rather harsh when He tells the man that he is not fit to follow Him. Why does Jesus do this? Notice the first concern in the man’s life by what the man says to Jesus, “but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus knows there is something deeper here than the request. This man first commitment was to someone other than Jesus. Our first commitment must be to Jesus. Jesus understands that the man’s request would end in him hanging on to the old life. Our commitment to Jesus means He becomes our primary focus. Other loyalties will seek to divide our heart. There are always reasons not to follow Jesus. We must follow Him immediately where He leads, even if that means leaving very dear and important people and tasks behind. Jesus’ words underscore the fact that His message of the kingdom of God was more important than anything else—even family members. The message and the Messiah cannot wait. Jesus’ and His message demanded total allegiance. Jesus’ servants should not have divided interests, like a farmer who begins plowing and looks back.
Why does Jesus demand full commitment from these people? When the pilot of a giant AIRPLANE is speeding down the runway, there is a certain point where he cannot decide to remain on the ground. When he crosses that line, he is committed to the air, or the plane crashes disastrously. That pilot cannot change his mind when the plane is two-thirds of the way down the runway.
We are much like this man because we are far too often focused on what we lose by following Jesus. Instead I believe that we should take a careful look at everything that we gain by following Jesus.
We gain His presence!
We gain His peace!
We gain His power!
These exchanges teach that commitment to Jesus and to the kingdom of God is to be our first priority. If the things and people of earth mean more to us than Jesus we will find the commitment of discipleship is too costly. Interestingly Luke did not record the outcome of any of Jesus’ conversations with the three men. I think he didn’t because God wants us to give our own answer to Jesus.
Jesus also calls us to commit ourselves to Him in discipleship. Discipleship means putting your hand to the plow and daily doing the ordinary, hard work of ministry. It is in this unexciting everyday discipleship that the glory is found. For if you spend time with Jesus, you will become like Him. Oh, it may not happen quickly, but it will happen with certainty.
Jesus is on a search for people who will commit their lives to Him. Can He find you among those whose hearts are fully committed to Him? Why does Jesus call for such commitment? Because it is impossible to live the Christian life without having a complete commitment to following Christ.