Luke 9:57-10:2 [Audio Link at Bottom]
As the hour grows later, the call to discipleship is a summons to total abandonment to the mission of Christ.
The lateness of the hour
As they were going along the road, Jesus is walking toward the cross. This is a time of urgency.
The summons to total abandonment
As they were going along the road, [so as they were walking someone runs up to them]
someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
What is going on here? This is a very hard passage - Jesus seems so unreasonable. This is honestly one of those passages that I like to avoid, if you know what I mean. The first guy, man, I’d love to have that guy in our church, y’know? “I’ll follow you where ever you go.” Yet Jesus dismisses him. The second person seems to be in the midst of a family obligation and asks for more time to finish. I’ve heard pastors write off this guy’s request as unreasonable - perhaps his dad is not even dead yet. The tone of the passage however suggests that we shouldn’t be shocked at the man’s request but at Jesus’ refusal to honor the man’s request. Most likely the father has died and has been buried once - Jewish culture called for a 12-month period of mourning to allow the bones to decay, after which time the body would be exhumed and then the remaining bones would be reburied in a stone box. This family obligation fell upon this son, and so he’s asking Jesus for some more time. The final case seems harshest of all. All this guy wants to do is to say good-bye to his family! Ouch! Here’s the other part that bothers me. Luke doesn’t tell us how these guys respond. Luke does this every so often and the reason Luke does this is that he wants us to think how we would respond, and whether we are ready to positively respond to Jesus’ call.
Why in the world would we follow Jesus who makes such demands on us? Well, I’m not going to let you off the hook so easy today. I’d rather you take this home and wrestle with Jesus yourself.
Here is a little bit of a thought though. We might ask this because we’ve responded to a diluted gospel. And I’ve even at times taught a diluted gospel. Here’s the gospel as we’ve learned it:
- God loves you. And God has a wonderful plan for your life.
- The reason we experience failure, hurt, loneliness, emptiness, purposelessness is because our sins have separated us from God, who is the source of life, love, and purpose.
- Jesus came to show us God’s love and to make a way for us to come into relationship with God once again. He died on the cross for our sins, was buried and was raised to life to show that he has victory over the grave.
- When we come to Jesus by faith and receive him into our heart, He will send his spirit to live in us and give us new, abundant, resurrection life.
- Are you ready to receive the life that God offers us in Jesus?
How many of you have heard a gospel presentation like that? How many of you have shared a gospel presentation like that with others? How many of you cannot see anything wrong with a gospel presentation like that?
Here’s what’s wrong. Jesus did not come to make our life more comfortable, or make our life more fulfilling, or give us purpose, or fill our emptiness, or make us happy, or even show us how to live. He does do that, those are some of the benefits of coming to Christ - but that is not why he came. He came to save us because we needed saving. And why did we need to be saved? What do we need saving from? Surprisingly:
- Not purposelessness.
- Not emptiness.
- Not unhappiness.
- Not loneliness.
- Not failure or hurt or disappointment.
We need to be save because we are sinners who have sinned against a holy God and were condemned to hell to burn forever. I’m gonna sound like a Texas preacher.
We don’t really believe that our sin is our biggest problem. We think we’re good people. But let’s just look at one little tiny issue: lying. If I asked you if you ever told a lie, even a little one, most of you might hem and haw, but look, we can be honest here, we all have. either lied, or stretched the truth, or misled someone, or not told the whole story. Now most of us understand that lying is wrong, but if I asked you whether you think you would go to hell for eternity over the little lies you tell, now, that’s a different story. Yet when we look into the word of God and see what the Bible says - just about lying, mind you, not about all the other sins we commit - we would see that even our little lies condemn us. Most of of know that lying is forbidden in the ten commandments - “Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” yet let’s draw this out a bit more.
The moral weight behind the 10 commandments and indeed any of God’s law is the character of God Himself. Num. 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? The New Testament proclaim in Hebrews 6:18 that it is impossible for God to lie, which is why we can trust His promises. Of Jesus, God come in the flesh, it is said in 1Pet. 2:22 that He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. Satan on the other hand is of the opposite character. In John 8:44 Satan is “a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
Those who tell lies are called by Jesus, children of their father the devil because when we lie we display a character not in line with God, but in line with the devil. Therefore it is not simply the lies we speak that condemn us, but what those lies reveal about our character and the state of our heart that condemn us. Jesus said it this way in Mark 7:20: And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come ... deceit [and] slander. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Or as Psa. 7:14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies.” Our lying lips reveal our character.
How do we lie? Let us count the ways! Proverbs lists some of the ways that we lie.
Prov. 6:16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. In the New Testament letter of 1 John, John is concerned with the lies we tell ourselves thinking that we are walking with God when we’re really not.
- 1John 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
- 1John 2:4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
- 1John 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
- 1John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
What becomes of liars?
* Psa. 5:6: You destroy those who speak lies, bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors.
- Psa. 101:7 No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
- Romans speaks of us as being under God’s wrath. 1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips
- Probably the most horrifying: Rev. 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
So if we were to take just that one of the 10 commandments: Thous shalt not lie and God were to judge you on the basis of his own moral character, would you agree that you would be guilty and to be thrown into the eternal lake of fire?
Now some might say “but God is loving and would not send anyone to hell because they told a few little lies. God is not like that.” Here’s what you’ve just done: Romans 1:25 says that you have just exchanged the truth about God [that’s revealed in his word] for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. So to cover up for your lying, you lied all the more. You show yourself to be an idolator, because you worship the God you created in your head, an a child of your father the devil who is the father of lies. You remain under God’s wrath and are justly to be thrown into hell as a liar and a lawbreaker.
Jesus came to save us from the wrath of God. It’s not just that our sins have separated us from God and cut us off from Him (though that is true), it is that our sins, your sin, every lie, every lustful glance or thought, every angry word, every minute and paperclip you stole from your employer, every insult you hurled at you brother, every time you dishonored God or your parents under your breath, every day when you set your eyes on you and your stuff rather than God and his glory, God’s righteous and just hatred of all that is evil and unjust and wicked was directed at you and at me. Forget about being unhappy! You were to be sent to hell for eternity for your wickedness. Forget about being lonely, You were to be cast off into the lake of fire. Forget about purposelessness - you were to toil forever where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. You were guilty before your God, condemned in your sins, hanging by a thread over the fires of hell. If you were to die before Jesus saves you the full wrath of God will be against you on account of your sin.
The thing that brings this all into clarity is that Jesus is speaking to these men while walking to the cross! To where he is going to be rejected, suffer, and die so that He can save them. That he was going to bear the wrath of God himself for them and us so that we could be saved through his brutal death. Now let’s think about who is being unreasonable? Jesus? or us? O, sorry, you want me to wait for you, umm ok, no, no, go and do what you need to do. I’ll just be right here, not walking to Jerusalem to die for your sins. See Jesus cannot wait for you. You may have one chance, one moment to respond. Don’t wait until you’re comfortable with where He’s going. Don’t put it off until the timing is better or its more socially acceptable in your circle of family or friends. If Jesus really came to save us from what he claims to have come to save us from, our only response can be these two things -
- I am saved! Whatever happens to me good or bad, happy, unhappy, trials, suffering, failures, success victory. The one thing that matters is settled. So gladly I’ll walk with Jesus to his cross and accompany him in his sufferings, because my light and momentary sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed - I’m saved.
- Others need to be saved! Did you catch what Jesus said to the second man? “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” See there is no middle ground - either you reject the call of Jesus and go back home, or you become a preacher, giving your life to the cause of Christ. As the hour grows later, the call to discipleship is a summons to total abandonment to the mission of Christ. Because others are liars just like you and they need to know there is a savior. After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
“It is true that [many] are praying for world-wide revival. But ... it would be more timely, and more scriptural, for prayer to be made to the Lord of the Harvest that He would raise up and thrust forth laborers who would fearlessly and faithfully preach those truths which are calculated to bring about revival.” A. W. Pink