1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

The Book of Luke, Conflicting Commitments,  Part II - Lesson 127


We read:   Luke 9:57-62, And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.


In our passage for today we are presented with a deficiency of commitment in three would-be-disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.


In this chapter of Luke we have already been witness to disciples who lacked power, who lacked unity, and who lacked compassion.


And here we are presented with another set of would-be-disciples who lack full commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ for it is obvious that these men have divided loyalties when a singular overriding loyalty is expected.


In our Lord’s description of the three men of our passage the commitment of each is imperfect, because it has limits which are caused by other interests.


By studying our Lord’s response to each of these disciples the limit of each man’s commitment to Christ is revealed.


Notice that in none of these three cases are we told whether or not the person ultimately followed Christ.


That is not the point Luke wants to get across to us.


Luke wants us to recognize some of those things that we place in front of Christ and we therefore hinder our commitment to Christ.


By His pointed responses Jesus is identifying those things that we love more than Christ, which undermine true discipleship for true discipleship demands that Christ is preeminent.


This is a love lesson from Christ which is critical to our Christian growth for it opens up to us our own heart in the matter of commitment to the Lord. 


That is what the word of God is to do, it is to open up our own heart for inspection and correction. 


It is what study to show thyself approved means.


As we discussed fully last week the commitment of all three would-be-disciples is lessened by their overriding commitment to family.


I will follow you wherever you go but it must not be far from the comforts of home.


I must go and bury my father before I can fully follow you.


Before I follow you I must first give farewells to my family.


All three express limits to their commitment to Christ.


But the lesson we are to learn is that when we put the Lord Jesus Christ first it brings the greatest blessing to our family but when we put our family first it will end up as being to their detriment. 


All of us who have been in the ministry have seen this happen over and over.


But we must operate on the principle that God cares about our family more than we do. 


If we put our family in his hands and commit ourselves fully to his care all will come out right.


So let us look in detail at these three volunteers and how the Lord Jesus Christ responded to their concern about their family. 


Take full advantage of the instruction of the word and open your hearts to the word of Christ for in His words is life.


Each of these volunteer disciples offer to follow Jesus but in each offer there is something wrong, some limitation to the offer.


The first of these volunteers appears to desire to follow Jesus without condition.


The second appears to have a family matter which will delay his commitment, but just for a time.


The third volunteer seems ready to follow Jesus immediately, but just wants to say good-bye to his family before he leaves.


In each case, the commitment to follow Jesus seems sincere, and the level of commitment looks acceptable to the reader.


Most likely as I said earlier we would have approved the request of each of these three men and even patted them on the back for the care of their family that they expressed.


That is what we would have done but Jesus does not ask us for advice and He neither approves their request nor does he pat them on the back. 


On these occasions in scripture where the response of Jesus to men is diametrically opposed to the way of the world his deity is most revealed. 


I believe this is one of those occasions for what he says would never be said by a natural man whose heart was full of deceit and hypocrisy, a heart full of divided interests.


This would never be said by a natural man who does not know the heart like Jesus Christ knows the heart.


So because he knows the heart of each of these men His words in response to each volunteer surprise and even amaze and astound us.

It looks to us as though Jesus does not want volunteers at all, as though He is trying to drive people off, rather than to “attract” followers.  


Jesus does not hide the light of truth under a bushel but lets the light of the truth shine forth regardless of whether or not these men follow him.  


He does not hide light so that darkness is attracted to him as so many of us would do.


The first would-be disciple approaches Jesus with what appears to be a very simple and unlimited commitment: I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. (verse 57).


But one lesson we should learn from this is that unlimited statements like this are usually rash statements that are based upon an excessive confidence in the flesh. 


Remember a similar rash statement by Peter in Matthew 26:33,, …… Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.


Was Jesus thrilled about this show of loyalty by Peter? 


No, for Jesus Christ knew that Peter lived in a house of flesh and this cocky statement originated from that house.


34Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.


And that included Judas. 


These were rash statements built upon a house of flesh and so too was this statement by this would-be-disciple.


I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. (verse 57).


Based upon this commitment any pastor would be thrilled to receive such a disciple but Jesus Christ is not any pastor.


Our Lord is obviously not satisfied with this commitment, as we can see from His response: Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (verse 58).

Jesus knows that this man cannot be a true disciple for he knows his heart and his response is based upon that knowledge.


Christ’s answer to this man, a scribe according to Matthew, indicates that this man’s intentions were not honorable. 


Perhaps he saw the crowds, the miracles, the enthusiasm. 


He was willing to follow Jesus Christ in that setting but what about when the self denial was called for, what about when sacrifice, and service and suffering was demanded? 


What about when separation from family was called for?


What about when he would no longer be welcome in his home town? 


Jesus clearly understood that this scribe did not understand the implications of discipleship and he compares his situation to animals who have definite places of rest and home but in his case Christ has neither places of rest or a home. 


Jesus Christ started this journey as a babe in Bethlehem without a place in the inn, and now we see in his journeys throughout Israel, Judea rejects him, Galilee casts him out, Gadara begs him to leave its districts, and Samaria refuses him lodging. 


His future will bring rejection in Jerusalem and even His Father will forsake him as he carries the sin of the world on the cross. 


This is what Jesus Christ faces his would-be-disciples with as he takes this man’s offer at face value.


So now Jesus puts this man’s commitment to the test.


Jesus says to him in effect, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.


You say you will follow Me anywhere.


I do not own a home nor do I have a place that I can call ‘home.’


I do not even own my own bed. Are you willing to follow Me under these conditions?”


This response of Christ indicates that the man was willing to follow him as to location but not as to the comforts of that location.


Obviously this man’s commitment to follow Jesus “anywhere He went” had some limitations and because Jesus Christ knew the man’s heart he knew the limitations of his commitment.  


His commitment was not unlimited at all, but very limited.


He did promise to “follow Jesus” in every respect, but only to follow Him in terms of geography but he expected that geography to provide the comforts of home.  


He did not at all mean to say that he would follow Jesus anywhere, if that meant living in sub-standard accommodations.


What once looked like unconditional commitment now, under the examination of our Lord’s questioning, looks very conditional and is hardly acceptable from a true disciple.


This man’s focus is on where he would be willing to go; Jesus’ focus is on what one is willing to leave behind in order to go.


Following Jesus requires leaving; specifically, it requires leaving home and all that encompasses.  


It means being willing to leave family, friends, home, comforts, wealth, and even vocation,


Foxes have holes; that’s where they live.


That’s where they have a mate and a little lair of foxes.


Isn’t that what it’s all about for a fox?


Birds have nests, and what is found in nests?


Mamma birds, eggs, and then eventually little baby birds – that’s home.


Jesus is saying to this man, “You don’t really understand what you’re saying.


In order to follow Me you must be willing to leave everything behind, even what you call ‘home.’


When this man talks about following Jesus, he is thinking about accompanying Him to this or that town.


Jesus says, “No, following Me requires that you imitate Me in every aspect of My life and ministry.


It is patterning your life after My life, and that means much more than just being willing to move from one place to another.


In the book of John, Jesus brings out clearly that attachment to Jesus Christ will also attach you to the things that Jesus Christ receives. 


John 5:18, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;


We don’t know how this man responded to our Lord’s amazing answer.


The one thing this man did learn was that his idea of discipleship was a whole lot different than that of the Master.


The last two volunteers demonstrate what I call delayed commitments.


Notice that in both cases the key word each man uses is “first:”


“Suffer me first” (verse 59), and, let me first … ” (verse 61).


Each of these men intend to follow Christ but they intend to follow Christ within their own timing and their own timing puts themselves first.


These two men fully intend to be our Lord’s disciples sometime and somehow, but not immediately.


Thus we have these two offers of delayed commitment.


Are there folks in our own Sunday school class who intend to follow Christ but not today?   


Well, then these two men are your kinfolks.  This lesson is especially for you!


Better listen to Jesus and learn and act accordingly.


The first delay looks like a perfect excuse for one’s absence, doesn’t it?


Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.


We all know that a death in the family, especially the death of one’s father, is a valid reason for taking time off work or putting something off for a while.


None of us would delay this very important responsibility.


We would stop work as quickly as possible, and go attend to the needs of the family, and make arrangements for the funeral.


The death of one’s father is regarded as an acceptable excuse for putting some important obligations off for a little while.


I can surmise that this would-be-disciple is concerned about one of three possible scenarios here.


The first possibility is that this man’s father has just died and has yet to be buried. 


The second scenario has to do with the re-internment of his Father’s bones. 


In those days it was the custom for the son to re-inter the bones of the Father a year after the Father’s death. 


At that point the son would have placed his Father’s bones in a special box to be set into the wall of the tomb.


The third scenario is that this “father” has not really died yet and since this man may be the eldest son he must stay home with his parents until that time when his father dies, which may be a number of years off.


We are not given enough information to be definite as to what this man is referring when he says: Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.


The first scenario calls for a delay of only a few days, the second scenario calls for a delay of one year, while the time delay of the third scenario is not fixed because the father has not yet died.


But let’s give this would-be disciple the benefit of the doubt and suppose that his father died that morning, and that he’s going to be buried that night.


This seems to be the most urgent of the three scenarios so we will focus on that one.


Now suppose that this man to whom Jesus has just said, “Follow Me,” is the oldest son.


As the oldest son, he would be expected to stop what he was doing and to handle all of the arrangements.


As the oldest son it is regarded as his duty.


In spite of all this, Jesus says to this volunteer, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.  (Luke 9:60).


Isn’t Jesus being unduly demanding?


Couldn’t Jesus have said to him, “I’ll tell you what, we’re going to go on.


Why don’t you finish up with your father’s funeral and then catch up with us on our way to Jerusalem.


We understand this is difficult for you, so just do what you’ve got to do.


After all, it’s only 24 hours, so get your father buried, get your affairs in order, and then come join us.”


Jesus does not say that.


What Jesus says is rather shocking, and it flies in the face of what everybody expects.


The man’s request for a delay seems reasonable until you begin to look at what Jesus says in response.