And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62)
All Or Nothing
Excuses are feeble attempts to deflect the need to act and many who wanted to follow Jesus were unwilling to dedicate their lives to His message. When the people heard Jesus preach, they recognized He taught them as one having authority. There were no hidden agendas in the teaching of the Christ, no misunderstood meanings to His message and if there is one thing everyone agreed upon is that Jesus did not concern Himself with the opinions of men. He faced the Jewish leadership with great boldness of speech never backing away from telling the whole truth. His message was clear, concise, with power and left no doubt the cost of being His disciples. He was a man that appealed to the spirit of men who wanted to change their lives but often the cost was higher than the people were willing to pay. Jesus was rejected by many because His requirements were too hard. Some came to Jesus seeking to be His disciples and told the Lord of their desire to be with him but on their terms only. Coming to Christ required all of a man’s heart, soul, mind and body or nothing at all. It happened as Jesus and His disciples traveled along, a man came to the Lord confirming his willingness to follow the Lord. He did not realize the cost of being a disciple of the one who had no place to lay His head. Life with the Lord would be a difficult walk and would involve persecution and likened to cross-bearing. One individual was anxious to follow Jesus but need to attend to his family affairs first. Time was of the essence in the work of the kingdom and if a man could not change his life to suit the needs of the kingdom he could not be a disciple. The last man that came to Jesus wanted to follow Him but first, he wanted to go to his family and tell them goodbye and prepare himself to be a disciple. The answer of Jesus was not an insensitive reaction but a deeper examination of the man’s heart. Walking with the Lord required a man to focus his life on the journey ahead without the trappings of the family. If a person was to take upon his shoulders the responsibility of walking with Jesus, the family would have to be placed in second place. Many a man desired to serve the Lord but the call of the familial roots called him back and he walked with Jesus no more. He failed because he was unwilling to put his hand to plan and not look back.
It seems harsh on the part of Jesus to demand so much. Preaching and teaching the kingdom of God required a heart willing to give the time and energy to the task ahead. There is a harsh side of being a disciple of Christ and no one should enter into the discipleship of Christ without self-examination. Jesus would later parallel being a disciple as bearing a cross. When a man is crucified he has nothing else that takes his mind than the burden he bears. He serves at the mercy of others and it is a challenging experience to endure. Serving God has always been all or nothing. From the beginning, God has required (not suggested) the first place. Anything less than first place is the last place. Jesus reminded those who came to Him of the age-old adage of His Father that if you are not willing to give your all, you cannot be His disciple. Putting the hand to the plow requires diligence, focus, determination, careful planning and a keen eye on one goal. When a man plows and allows his mind to wander and takes his eye off the goal, the garden is destroyed. The kind of plow Jesus was speaking about was easily overturned if care was not taken to remain focused. Being a disciple of Jesus requires the same fervent dedication to a single cause as a man with a plow. Nothing comes before the work of the Lord. When the hand rests on the handle of the plow, there is only one object in mind. When a man looks back longing for his home or his family, he is not fit for the kingdom of God.
There are some who are not well-placed to be a disciple because they are not committed. If the man went to give regrets to his family he may never return. If he came to follow Jesus and his mind was always on the family he left, he would be unproductive for the Lord. The challenge Jesus made to the man is to ask if he was willing at that moment to follow Him without going home. Luke does not tell us what the man decided. The Holy Spirit gives the story as an example of what it means to be a child of God. There can be no half-hearted attempt in following Jesus with one heart firmly entrenched in the home and one seeking to please God. This does not suggest we are to deny our responsibilities in the home but what Jesus does require is the family to be focused on the Father and the Father alone. Everything the family does is measured by the will of God. Husbands and wives mold their relationships together with a single purpose: please God. As parents, the children are taught one thing in life: please God. The family fortifies this with the teaching that it must be all or nothing. The husband who puts his hand to the plow of spiritual leadership and looks back will fail as a spiritual leader. When mothers fill their lives and the lives of their children with being involved in all the activities of the world and on the other hand trying to show their children God, they will fail to impress upon them that God must be first in all things. Children must be taught to put their hands to the plow and not look back. The best for this to be done is for the parents to firmly grasp the handles of the plow and not look back. Being a Christian is an “all or nothing” proposition. Are you in or out?