Luke 9:57-62 – As they were traveling on the road someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Then he said to another, “Follow me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.” But he told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Contrasted by today’s standards of trying not to offend “seekers” who may be interested in the things of the Bible, Yeshua did not hold back when it came to the cost of discipleship and following him. In fact, many times, he made it easy for people to turn away, and did not seek after those who had rejected him and his message of the kingdom.
John 6:57-58, 60, 66 – “Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. “This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate – and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.” … Therefore, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it? ” … From that moment many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him.
To those he was calling, the cost of following Messiah could have meant the loss of a home, or a regular place to stay. It could have meant separation from the life of the local community synagogue. It would have meant foregoing the social responsibilities and relationships associated with family. He knew his disciples were going to face some of the hardest persecution during unparalleled times of tribulation, and he knew they could not be distracted with social convention.
Matthew 10:34-38 – “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; “and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. “The one who loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; the one who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. “And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
The cross of self-sacrifice is the standard of true discipleship. The covenant that God established through Messiah is a martyr’s covenant; one must die to self to live to God and his kingdom. The flesh with its desires and ambitions must be subjugated to the will of God in the expression of his kingdom on the earth.
When Lot and his family were escaping the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the angel instructed them not to look back.
Genesis 19:17, 26 – As soon as the angels got them outside, one of them said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away! ” … But Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.
Yeshua instructed his disciples with the same sense of urgency for the destruction that they were about to face.
Luke 17:28-33 – “It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. “But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all. “It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed. “On that day, a man on the housetop, whose belongings are in the house, must not come down to get them. Likewise the man who is in the field must not turn back. “Remember Lot’s wife! “Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
While those first-century disciples facing the impending destruction of Jerusalem were the intended audience for these words, many times today disciples of the Messiah encounter similar decisions and circumstances that, to us as individuals, have similar levels of consequence. Perhaps it’s the potential loss of a job for ethical reasons, or the separation from destructive relationships with friends or family. It’s a matter of priorities: one must always place the kingdom first.
Matthew 6:31, 33 – “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ‘ or ‘What will we drink? ‘ or ‘What will we wear? ‘ … “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Once your hand is set to the plow, don’t look back. The commitment to follow the Messiah is one that does not allow for a divided heart or a divided mind. In the analogy of a poker game, all of the chips we have must be invested in the hand that Messiah has dealt us; in faith, we must go all-in. Every generation is called to singleness of purpose within the kingdom of God, and it is up to us to steadfastly maintain that focus for his glory.
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