This coming Sunday we will be reading Luke 9:51-62 at worship. Now, I don’t give the primary teaching this week as it is our family worship service – but there are countless jokes about preachers and open mics for a reason. When Scripture is read, preachers gotta preach. So because that opportunity won’t be there for me this week (unless you travel out to St. John’s, Pennant, for the 8:30 am service), I’m offering a few reflections on the Gospel passage for this Sunday.
In verses 57-58 we come across a very gung-ho person who pledges unconditional fealty to Jesus. “I will follow you wherever you go.” That’s the kind of thing that I imagine Jesus loves to hear from people. I know that I’m always deeply excited when people commit themselves to Jesus, so I can’t help but speculate that He loves it, too. It is certainly what He’s looking for from each of us – though there’s more to be said about that, because due to sin we are unable to make such commitment unless He has given it to us to do so. His grace is what enables us to make such a pledge.
Looking back at the passage, we are surprised to find that Jesus doesn’t seem particularly excited – rather, He challenges the person to count the cost. This isn’t a bed of roses, that you’re committing yourself to. Jesus, in fact, says that there’s no bed involved at all! The man’s pledge is reminiscent of God’s call to Abraham, and that’s important for us here because God’s promise to Abraham comes in, here, when we consider Jesus’ response (about counting the cost of discipleship).
When God first called Abraham (Genesis 12), He didn’t give Him a timeline or a destination or a well-worn road to follow. He simply told Abraham to go away from everything he’d ever known, and that (along the way!) He would show him where to go to. That reads the same as this man’s unconditional commitment to follow Jesus, doesn’t it? If Abraham accepts God’s call to follow Him, he will basically be saying, “I will follow You wherever You go (or, “lead me” in this case).” I can’t help see Abraham’s unconditional commitment to God being resonated in this person’s words to Jesus, on the road to Jerusalem.
Abraham’s acceptance of God’s call came with a promise: God would make him a great nation; would bless him and make him great; would bless all the families of the earth through him. God promised Abraham a secure future, a legacy, a land of his own, a home. God promised Abraham the kinds of things that many people work their whole lives for. I can’t help but think that such favourable future conditions were in the mind of the man who offered his unconditional loyalty to Jesus. And that’s what Jesus addresses.
“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” It weighs in serious contrast against God’s promise to Abraham, doesn’t it?
What about us? What do we bring to our commitment to the Lord and His Kingdom and His way? What are we looking to get out of this, out of being committed to Him as His people? When was last time you took the time to sit down and really ask Jesus what He had for you – not what you wanted, but what He was looking to give? If a part of being transformed into His new Creation, reconciled and restored to the Lord, is having our desires and motivations changed and aligned to His (and it is!), then what further work does He have to do in you, in this regard?