When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.
When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them.
Then they went on to another village. As they were going along the road, 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, first let me go and bury my father.”
But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
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 a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Ever have a moment when you wonder exactly what a writer is trying to get across? These verses from Luke are one of those moments for me. Why string these responses together. First Jesus rebukes the disciples for wanting to punish those who reject him. Then he makes following Jesus seem like the least desirable thing one can imagine. He finishes up the verses having Jesus chastise those who want to follow but also feel a responsibility to their families.
Much is made of how the second half of the passage is what is required of us to be true followers. Again, we must look at the larger context. The first half of the passage is about Jesus’ resolve to get to Jerusalem. There is urgency there. Perhaps what Luke is encouraging his readers to do is act with a similar urgency when it comes to following Jesus. What place do we give our faith when it comes to our list of priorities? Just how much does Jesus expect of his followers? Clearly compassion matters as illustrated in the first part of the passage, but also sacrifice and determination. Regardless, there is a cost to following Jesus. What sacrifices are you willing to make? Keep this question in mind this week, for the story that follows in chapter 10 is the sending out of the 72. Maybe Luke is asking his readers to prepare for what they will be called to do.
This week’s devotion is brought to you by Campbell University’s Center for Church & Community.