“Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home...” Luke 9:61a

“Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home...” Luke 9:61a

In the closing of the ninth chapter of Luke Jesus is approached by three would-be-followers; each proving to be lacking in their commitment to Him. There are certain things that a true follower of Christ simply cannot be, and these three men each reveal a disqualifying trait.

The first man came to Jesus and declared his willingness to follow Him wherever He would go. The Lord quickly discerned his hollow words by informing him that the “Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Jesus was on earth temporarily; He had no permanent home here and all who follow Him have to see themselves in the same light. His servants must consider heaven their true home and earth just temporary lodging. Treasures are stored up in heaven where neither “moth nor rust destroy, nor thieves break in and steal.” You are to be a steward of all your possessions; God is the owner who loans them to you. A follower of Christ makes no conditions on his commitment to Him.

The second man was called upon by Jesus Himself to come and follow Him. The would-be follower said “but first…” and in so doing showed his desire to delay his service. His request to “bury his father” first seemed very reasonable yet what the man was actually desiring was to stay at home until his father died. In the culture of that day the wording of his petition meant he was not ready to leave home to follow the Lord. Family business was placed above the urgency of kingdom business. Perhaps the man would come into a great inheritance which he could lose if he up and left to walk after Christ. Whatever it would mean for this man to enter immediately into the company of Christ’s followers it was deemed less important than his obligations at home. He wasn’t saying, “I won’t” but he was saying, “not yet.” A follower of Christ cannot delay when he is called.

The third man, quoted in our text for today, said he was ready to go but needed to return home to say goodbye to his family and friends. Again, the culture of the day reveals his request to be more than a quick trip to inform his family of his new plans. Saying goodbye in biblical times often took days if not weeks. The man wanted to divide his time between Christ and family. Jesus, knowing his heart, replied “no one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Christ will not suffer the man who wants to keep one foot in the world while placing the other in the kingdom. Jesus is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all. No one can follow Him with a divided heart.

The Bible speaks of following Christ to be an all or nothing venture. What are you willing to forgo to follow Him?

Bruce MacInnes is the senior pastor of Turner’s Chapel in Sanford.