The Call of the King 4: Don't Look Back

For Meditation

Luke structures both his Gospel and Acts with geographical markers. In Acts 1:8, Jesus’ words about “witnesses” in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and the ends of the earth signals the outline of the narrative. The apostles and other witnesses start in Jerusalem and begin to carry good news farther and farther. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ story takes place in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Galilee--until 9:51, where we read, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” The remaining chapters of Luke’s account show Jesus on his way to Jerusalem and the climactic Jerusalem scenes of arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection.

On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus calls others to join him as disciples. In 9:51-62, we read of three encounters Jesus has with unnamed people on the road. This week we will explore what it means to follow Jesus as we read closely the three conversations Jesus has with these would-be disciples. In each conversation, Jesus issues a warning: count the cost; don’t put your decision off; don’t look back. 

In our own journeys of discipleship, we are distracted by the cares of the world and the important demands of work and family obligations. How can we be faithful to the one we call Lord in the midst of juggling schedules and relationships? Have you made that faith commitment to the Christ that re-orders our priorities? Does that response of faith include your heart as well as your head? How do we understand and heed Jesus’ strong words about discipleship?

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Luke 9:51-62

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 Then he and his disciples 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 dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he 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 goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”