Sermon: Barry McWilliams Christ Church 940904 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." After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. (NIV)

To Follow Jesus is to leave everything without hesitation and go with Him

Introduction to Context:

These incidents found in Matt 8 at a point earlier in Jesus' Galilean ministry - but Luke tells about them here - in the context of Jesus' determination to go to Jerusalem, the onset of His Perean (wilderness E. of the Jordan) ministry and following the Samaritan's rejection. Luke may be the correct chonological position (Edershiem: Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah: Matt uses the topical arrangement.) It is also clearly fits in the context of Jesus' choosing and sending out another 70 of his disciples (cf 52; 10:1) as well as the changing nature and focus of the Lord's ministry - facing increasing hardship, opposition and rejection, steadfastly, but with determination approaching the climax of the cross.

1. To Follow Jesus is to share His mission and His determination

(v. 51 his state of mind in view here) - in both counting and paying the price - Jesus "imminent departure" - no delay possible Jesus made at least three trips to Jerusalem during these months, (John's Gospels - feasts of Tabernacles (Jn 7) and Dedication (Jn 10) and finally Passover (cf Lk 9:51; 13:22; 18:31). Jesus being urged to go publically to Jerusalem and reveal Himself at a feast - but he resolves to go privately - his eyes focused on the cross, not glory!

In this context, Jesus interviews some prospective disciples. Jesus makes some hard statements. Key to understanding Jesus' words here is His knowledge of what is in men's hearts - What seems unreasonably harsh to us is precisely atuned to their spiritual needs. If his response to them seems overly harsh or demanding - we have to understand these are trials being applied to their faith - like skillful cuts made by a surgeon. Essential for their success as disciples in view what the Lord knew to be coming.

The certainty of hardship and suffering as a disciple of Jesus demands "a willingness to commit ourselves - Self-denial, homelessness in the world; immediate and entire self surrender, sacrifice; heart and affections simple, undivided and set on Christ and His work" - no greater trial than separation from Him, no greater joy than to be with him. (Edersheim)

2. Jesus followers must have no excuses : No Buts...

Three disciples who had difficulty letting go:
They had been with Jesus for a considerable time - knew Him as a teacher - Seen His power at work
Faced with "a fork in the road" ---- Disciples or windowshoppers? Now weighing the costs: Luke 14:25-33 in the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

1. an enthusiastic scribe unprepared forhardships of discipleship - Luke 9:57-58 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."

This disciple: (a scribe acc. to Matt) eager to follow Jesus wherever he goes" Jesus' response.... Even foxes and birds have a place.... This man not used to hardship - the cost of following Jesus is high - many well be very difficult Ease & Comfort a "gift" from God, not a "right", God can take it away - Contentment, not comfort

Increasing opposition against Jesus: Samaritans (51-56); Gerasenes (8:37) Galilee:Korazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum (9:13-16); Scribes and Pharisees - prime opponents - ready to stand up to them?? Jesus' Kingdom not "of" or "in" this world - No home, a passing through -a journey Discipleship is sharing the sufferings of Christ -- Any comfort expected in normal life must take 2nd place to commitment to the Son - 1 Pet 4:12-19; 5:10; Rom 8:17; Phil 3:10; 2 Tim 3:12-13

2. the unready man who wants to bury his father first - Luke 9:59-60 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."

Jesus has taken the initiative with this man - invitation to join the "inner circle" The father dead or nearing death? The normal custom of looking after his parents till their death and then reckoning self free to follow - or of lingering over the details of funeral arrangements - Metaphor in Jesus saying: the spiritually "dead" can take care of themselves - concern yourself with "proclaiming" "life" (the Kingdom of God) The problem with this man is he is trying to decide the "what" and the "when" - instead of obeying the clear call of the Lord - a disciple's priority is responding to the Lord's call

3. the man who is divided between discipleship and the world - Luke 9:61-62 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."

Seems an innocent request but the Lord's response reveals deeper problems - he is still hanging onto his past - the world - his heart and it's loyalties are divided: Luke 14:26; Phil 3:13; 1 John 2:15 "dangerous to go home" - priorities not established - easy pray for pleas of homefolks - influences of others who will stand in your way - looking back and "plowing forward" - fit for service plowing illustration - The dangers we face in looking back rather than ahead - of dwelling on ourselves and our relationships and concerns - to the neglect of the kingdom and the gospel.

3. Jesus' Disciples - Are Being sent on before him

Keep our eyes fixed on the Master (follow) - Making His concerns our priority as well - Context stresses Jesus' purpose - preparing to send them ahead with the good news of the kingdom: 10:2 workers for the harvest 70 "others" - not the 12 "apostles" - symbolically representing the whole church..... Slight differance in charge to them : no ref to "power and authority" . Mt & Mk do not include this sending - however it appears included the instructions in ref to the 12? (See Edersheim)

Comfort or convention or custom - or Christ? Ordinary security, accepted customs, home ties - when we reach the fork in the road which do we choose? When there is a conflict of interests? Missionary applications: cultural barriers, customs

We must look ahead, not back - No regrets, no excuses, no turning back, no giving up because it has become too costly or difficult, or demanding, or it interfers with our comfort zone, our activities or lives. When Jesus calls, where He leads, when He sends - we must respond!! and follow!!! and Go!!!

Did these men continue with the Lord or were they turned away? We don't know! But Jesus is calling us to follow him too - what is our answer?


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