When we left off Monday, we were looking at the first of the three interactions described in the Cost of Discipleship section of Luke 9. I hope you’re enjoying it so far — if you missed the first post, you can check it out here. Letâ€™s dig into part deux!
In the second interaction, Jesus does call someone. Real simple. â€œFollow me.â€ The hearer of this call replies with, â€œLord, first let me go and bury my father.â€ Mmmkay…? As they often are prone to disagreement, scholars have not come to a decisive conclusion about what this meant exactly. It is open to a couple of possibilities. This could mean this guyâ€™s father had just died, or was sick and very close to it and he wanted to attend the services and be there for his family. However, it could also have meant that his father was perfectly well at the time, but he was waiting for his father to die, because he would then be coming into a good inheritance. He wanted to first receive his inheritance, felt like the call of God â€œcame at a bad timeâ€ and therefore did not answer the call.
There’s also a third possibility, that his father was at home, and very sick, and he felt it his duty at that time to take care of him, and once that work was done, he would then set about the business of following the Lord.Â Whether he was waiting on an inheritance or not, consider this guy similar to any other person who might desire to obey the Lord in some thing the Lord has told him or her to do. The Lord might tell us to forgive someone. By His Spirit He might prompt us to speak to someone some word of encouragement or correction: but we in our own “wisdom” see it fit to wait a while, before doing the thing the Lord tells us to do.
Jesus responded to the guy’s excuse with, â€œLet the dead bury their own dead…you go and preach the Kingdom of God.â€ Does anybody else hear this and think, â€œGosh, Jesus…a little harsh there.â€ ?? Maybe itâ€™s just me.Â Why should the dead bury their own dead? Well, we are continually instructed to care for our Mother and Father, to love our neighbours and our own relations. Jesus isn’t contradicting this — we simply areÂ not to care for our relations to the point that it is a duty we place in front of our service to God. Even our service to our family cannot be an excuse for our non-service toward God. Perhaps if the guy followed Jesus, Jesus would’ve led him to his own house, healed his Dad, and they would’ve been on their merry way. Perhaps the guy had six brothers and sisters, also totally able to take care of their Dad on his deathbed. One way or another, we can trust that in the sovereignty of God, the issue was all worked out.
What does this mean for us? Well, it doesn’t sound like there are very many good excuses for not obeying the call of God. If God calls you to do something and you choose not to, perhaps because you care about what people think or you know there will be a cost involved, or because you’re waiting on some finances coming your way, or there’s something else on your plate that you think is more important, you are disobeying a Holy God. Each day has enough trouble of its own — and some new excuse will always be available, which will make us think we have just cause for not obeying. But we should obey God, (and seek His kingdom first) not because He will bless us or there will be a great reward (though the reward is great in heaven and I believe we will see Godâ€™s goodness in this lifetime as well). We should obey God because He is God. End of story. He has already shown us how much He loves us, in sending His Son to die for us. Obedience is a reasonable response! And though this potential disciple may have received his inheritance in his lifetime, or just pleased his family by sticking around instead of following Jesus, he missed his eternal reward as a result. Whether or not that was a good decision, I think you know the answer.
Considering the amazing goodness and exceeding mercies of God, and considering the sacrifice He made to give us life in Him — we have no excuse but to respond with thankful hearts, love and obedience. And the old hymn surfaces again! Trust and obey, for there’s no other way…
So we learned from part one, just because the call doesnâ€™t sound the way you think it should doesnâ€™t mean you donâ€™t have a calling from God for your life. And from part deux, there is really no reason that will hold up in the day of judgement, as a suitable excuse for you not following Jesus. Now we can put these lessons together, quite simply:
1. You have a call. 2. You should answer it.
We will dig in to Part Three tomorrow! Feel free to read ahead. 😉