Our tendency is to avoid the difficult things in life in favor of a life of non-resistance and ease. In order to explain or justify our lack of resolve and perseverance in the difficult things, we make EXCUSES. This week’s text, Luke 9:57-62, records three encounters with Jesus. In each encounter a person presents their excuse as to why they will not follow Jesus, and in turn Jesus challenges their excuses in contrast to the immediacy of the kingdom of God.
The first encounter of this story tells of a certain person saying to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” This phrase is common in modern day Christianity. It is a theme of many of our praise songs. It is a phrase easily said, but difficult to carry out. Following Jesus is not easy. It is not for the person who seeks comfort above all else. Does concern for comfort keep you from following Jesus? What pleasure tends to come between you and God? Are you willing to remove certain comforts and pleasures from your life in order to follow Jesus and make Him the #1 affection of your life?
The second encounter records Jesus challenging another to follow Him. In response to Jesus’ bid to follow Him, this person asked for permission to follow Him at a later date. In this cultural setting, it was common for people to work under the headship of their father. And, they were obligated to continue working under his headship until his death. This individual was unwilling to follow Jesus because of a family and cultural custom. Like this person, many people today use the excuse of family relationships to not follow Jesus Christ. Whatever the situation may be, the family relationship will be healthier through the eyes of God if you are passionately following Christ! Are you willing to spend the effort to build your relationships around following Jesus? It may be counter cultural, but it will be worth it!
The third encounter records Jesus calling another to follow Him. The invitation is accepted on one condition; that they are able to go home and say goodbye to their family. In this culture, they were not merely going to inform their family they were leaving, but they were going to ask for a blessing to forsake all and follow this man who claimed to be the Messiah. Jesus knew that this person would not receive the family blessing to go, and this person did not have the resolve to follow Jesus with family opposition. Once again, Jesus heard the response, “I will follow you” but knew that they were empty words. Do you have a tendency to make promises that you cannot fulfill? Have you promised to follow Jesus with empty words?
What prevents you from passionately following Jesus Christ? What excuses have you made for not following Jesus? Perhaps like this story, comfort prevents you from following Jesus on a journey of faith? Or, maybe family relationships hold you back from following your Heavenly Father with careful abandon? We must not allow our passionate service to Jesus to be filled with empty words, promises with no fortitude. NO EXCUSES. We must follow Him!
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.”
Edward R. Murrow