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Sunday, June 25, 207

posted Jun 25, 2017, 7:01 PM by Site Administrator



Luke 9:51-62

Key Verse 9:58


Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have the nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”


            First, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (51-56) In this passage, we see Jesus setting out for Jerusalem. Verse 51 reads: “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” For the past three years, Jesus had served God’s mission. He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, drove out demons, and preached the kingdom of God. Now, his mission was near an end. Jesus, from the beginning, knew where he was going and what he was going to do. He followed God’s plan and schedule for him step by step. One time, he expressed his anguished heart to see his mission fulfilled to his disciples, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!” (Luke 12:49-50) Jesus had been waiting for his time to come. Now, finally, the time for him to complete his mission was approaching fast; it was the baptism of pain and suffering. Fully determined, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.


            One time Jesus said, 28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30) Jesus wants to give us rest. Then, how? By letting us sit on the couch and eat junk food all day long? No! That’s a cursed way of life. Or then, by having us travel throughout the world and enjoy fun all the time? No way! It is a sinful way of life. Then, how? Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” We become weary when we do not take the yoke, the cross Jesus gives, because by rejecting the cross Jesus gives, we take up our own cross, the cross of ego and sin, which is so heavy. Jesus invites all people who are weary and burdened to the life of taking up his yoke, because he is gentle and his yoke is light. When we take up his yoke, there we find rest and peace; as we follow Jesus taking up his yoke, we develop spiritual muscles, and we become strong in Christ Jesus. Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” We must learn from Jesus how to enjoy rest in taking up his yoke. How did Jesus take up his cross? Verse 51 reads: “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” That’s how Jesus took up his cross. The word “resolutely” means “decisively,” or “with single-hearted devotion,” or “wholeheartedly.” That’s how we must take up Jesus’ yoke, the mission of serving God’s kingdom purpose. Many people feel burdened and weary in participating in God’s kingdom purpose. It is not because Jesus’ yoke is heavy, but because they take it not resolutely, but reluctantly. They try to take up Jesus’ yoke reluctantly, just doing the minimum, only to secure their ticket to heaven, as a result, they cannot find any rest. When we follow Jesus by taking up the cross of mission, we must do it resolutely, giving our heart and strength fully to it. Then, there, we find refreshment, peace, rest and strength. Then, we too can say, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (Jn 4:34) Jesus set out for Jerusalem, how? Resolutely!


 Now, between Galilee and Jerusalem was Samaria. So he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him. But the people there did not welcome him because he was heading for Jerusalem. Because of their racial barrier, they rejected their Savior. At this refusal, James and John were mad, and asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” They wanted to teach them a lesson by dropping bombs from heaven. They had absolute confidence in Jesus that, if they asked God for fire in him, fire would really come down from heaven. What great faith they had. But their confidence was directed to a wrong thing – destroying people. They were really immature, without knowing God. At this, Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village. Teaching rebellious and proud people a lesson with physical power or punishment is not Jesus’ way. Jesus simply went to another village because they rejected him. He was humble.


Second, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (57-58) Look at verse 57. “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Wow! This man was really bold, “I will follow you wherever you go.” He was determined to follow Jesus. He sounded like a very good disciple candidate like Peter and John who, at Jesus’ command, left everything and followed him. But, Jesus did not welcome him. Why? Look at verse 58. Let’s read this verse together:


Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”


“The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” What was Jesus talking about? Jesus was telling him about the reality of his life as a man of mission. It is everyone’s desire to build a beautiful and comfortable nest where they can rest and sleep. Even foxes and birds at least enjoy that kind of comfort. But, while all people struggle to secure their nests and holes, God’s servants do not have any place to lay their heads. Why? It is because, simply, God’s servant’s life is not about building a beautiful nest or digging a comfortable hole; instead, their life is the life that is fully dedicated to serving God’s mission. As a result, there is no guarantee for even a hole or a nest for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus was asking the man if he was willing to live like that, without having even a nest for himself.


This man’s problem was that he only saw the fantastic aspect of following Jesus. This man wanted to follow Jesus, because in his eyes, Jesus’ life as a man of mission looked really fantastic. Jesus was so popular, and he looked so gorgeous when he delivered powerful messages. Everyone honored and respected him greatly. When the man saw this, he was completely fascinated. He too wanted to be like Jesus, being at the center of people’s attention, being honored and respected, doing fantastic works of God such as driving out demons, healing the sick, and proclaiming powerful messages. He too wanted such a fantastic life. If he could have that kind of life, he was willing to do anything, ready to make any sacrifice necessary. So he said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”


            In 1997, I attended an International Summer Bible conference held in Michigan State University together with several students. There, a man of God was delivering a powerful message. So I asked one of my students, “What picture do you have about yourself 20 years later?” Then, pointing out the servant of God, he said, “I will be standing there.” His vision was great, but he didn’t want to suffer together with Jesus. His real desire was to secure his nest. So, instead of accepting God’s calling, he decided to live as a cashier at a supermarket, called Pavillion, with a vision to earn $25 an hour as a meat department manager 20 years later. Who doesn’t want that kind of glorious life? But only those who are willing to suffer together with Jesus can live such a glorious life. Jesus’ words, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head,” make us think about what kind of life we are pursuing. Sometimes, life’s worries visit us and we are troubled about our future – what career to build or whom to marry. It seems that our classmates have careers and build beautiful families, while we still struggle with a few rebellious sheep; we are troubled. But we must remember whom we are following. We are following Jesus who had no place to lay his head, without any security or a comfortable place to rest. So, when your life seems not secured, it is normal for you; simply, you are following your Master Jesus who had no place to lay his head. For his own name’s sake, he will lead us through the path of righteousness, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


Third, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (59-60) Look at verse 59. Jesus said to another man, “Follow me.” In the previous case, it was the man who initiated to follow Jesus. But in this case, it was Jesus who called this man to follow him. In Jesus’ eyes, this man was a good material for shepherd or leader. He had a certain quality to become a disciple of Jesus – maybe, he had good character, or he was very faithful, or compassionate. Somehow, in Jesus’ eyes, he was a good disciple candidate like Peter and John. So he called him, saying, “Follow me.” It was great privilege and grace upon this man that Jesus, now at the last moment of his earthly ministry, called him to join in his discipleship ministry. This calling had a great potential to change his life once forever. But how did he respond to this calling? He said to Jesus, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” His answer was, “Yes.” But he had a very important matter that he should take care of. His father just died, and in one or two days, there would be a funeral service for him. As a son, he had to attend this funeral service. So he told Jesus that after finishing his father’s funeral service, he would follow him. What was Jesus’ response? Look at verse 60. Let’s read this verse together:


Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”


            What was Jesus’ answer? Jesus told him not to go to his father’s funeral service! Jesus didn’t allow him to attend his father’s funeral service. Instead, Jesus told him to go and preach the kingdom of God. Wow! We are only confused. Attending one’s father’s funeral service is one of the most important human duties. Also, honoring your father and your mother is the fifth commandment. What will happen when you do not attend your father’s funeral service because you follow Jesus? Surely, all your family members will be mad at you, and persecute you terribly. Why did Jesus tell the man not to go to his father’s funeral service? Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Jesus didn’t say that they should not have any funeral service for his late father, but he told him who should have that funeral service, saying, “Let the dead bury their own dead,…” Here, “the dead” refer to those who do not have faith in God, or those who do not have that much interest in serving God’s kingdom purpose. There are many people in the family, among the relatives who do not have any desire for God’s kingdom, but are so concerned about that kind of human duties, customs and traditions. Even many of them try to keep such things wholeheartedly as if it is their mission in life. Jesus’ idea is: Let them do all these human duties, while those who have faith in God, those who have been prepared for God, do the work of God. God’s servants who have been trained or prepared are so rare to find in the world, and such precious disciples and servants of God should not be bothered by that kind of endless human chorus things, human duties, customs, and traditions. They are too precious to be wasted only because of human affairs, which are in the true sense, worthless and meaningless. Even if we who have been called by God do not take care of human obligations, there are always many who will take care of them very well. Many dead people there in your family, among your relatives, in your society, but only few prepared people for God’s work in the world like you. So Jesus says, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” You go and teach the word of God while the dead bury their dead people.


            This man’s idea was that first he would take care of his human duties, and then, he would follow Jesus. But he did not realize that such human duties are endless. And with that kind of idea, wrong priority, no one can serve God’s will. While sheep are starving, they say, “Tonight, I have to go to my family gathering.” “This Sunday is my brother’s wedding.” While the Holy Spirit is working hard, they say, “Tonight, my father wants to see me.” Baby shower, family member’ birthday, even friends’ birthday, family gatherings, weddings, anniversary, funerals, father’s day, mother’s day, barbeque parties,… The list is simply endless. These human obligations and affairs ever entangle us unless we set up the priority utmost clear. The apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:4, “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-- he wants to please his commanding officer.” At the beginning of the ministry, Moses was growing up as a dedicated disciple. Then, there was his family reunion on Sunday in the state, Vermont. It was an important meeting for his scattered family members, especially, his mom. Because his mother insisted, he went there. Then, on Sunday, even before all his family members came together, he said to them that he had to leave and go back to California to attend the Sunday worship service; they were shocked and tried hard to persuade him, but he would not change his mind at all; finally, he left them and came to worship service. Through this, his family members learned a lesson; since then, they don’t schedule any family thing such as birthday party or wedding or family reunion on Sunday.


            When Jesus did not allow him to go to his father’s funeral service, how did the man respond? Maybe, so shocked and confused, saying, “What?!” Maybe, he could not understand why he should not go to his father’s funeral service, or even he would think about Jesus and his ministry suspiciously – no other ministries or leaders such as Pharisees or teachers of the law taught such things. But to Jesus, it was absolutely necessary, because, without having such an absolute attitude to God’s kingdom work, no one could be truly committed to God. In following Jesus, we must be absolute; we must be free from all other human things; we must love God and serve Him only.


            Fourth, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (61.62) Look at verse 61. “Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” This man heard what Jesus said to the other; he should have thought about Jesus’ words seriously. But probably, he thought that he had no problem about letting the dead bury their own dead. So, he thought that he was ready to follow Jesus. He said to Jesus very boldly, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” He just wanted to say good-bye to his family, and then, he would come and follow Jesus. He was confident that it would be okay. But what was Jesus’ response? Look at verse 62. Let’s read this verse together:


Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”


            Jesus saw through this man’s problem, and told him that he was not fit for service in the kingdom of God. Jesus rejected this man to be his disciple because he was like a farmer who put his hand to the plow, but still looked back – in farming, such behavior is unthinkable and unacceptable. A plow is a farm implement consisting of a heavy blade at the end of a beam and used for breaking up soils and cutting furrows in preparation for sowing. The cows pulled the plow while a farmer held it tightly behind them. In order to furrow the field for sowing properly, the farmer must look straight ahead, and control the cows to go straight. If the farmer, instead, looked back while plowing the field, then, the furrow would not be straight, but crooked. Such a farmer was not fit for service, and thereby, fired.


            This man’s request to go back to his family and say good-bye to them sounded innocent and reasonable. It seemed a small matter. But to Jesus, it meant a lot; it showed him a lot about this man. This man’s problem was that he was looking back. He already decided to follow Jesus to do God’s work, then, he must give his heart toward Jesus and God’s kingdom work, entrusting all other matters in God’s hands. But still, his heart was not toward God’s kingdom purpose completely. Instead, his heart was toward his family members. He wanted to make sure that his family understood his decision of following Jesus and that everything would go well with his family – in the matter of health and finance, and in everything. As his heart was on his family like this, he could not follow Jesus wholeheartedly. Simply, in Jesus’ eyes, such a person was not fit for service in the kingdom of God.


            When we think about this passage, we can see what kind of people Jesus desires for service in his kingdom – those who follow him wholeheartedly, entrusting all the matters in God’s hands. It is our human nature that we are concerned about the wellbeing of our family members – they need help; they need our support emotionally, physically and financially. But Jesus wants us to trust in God and, once we receive his calling, once we live as Jesus’ disciples, he does not want us to look back whatsoever; instead, he wants us to be committed to God’s kingdom work completely – our desire, concern, hope and everything – in Jesus’ eyes, such people are fit for service in the kingdom of God, and they are the ones God uses for his work preciously. How can we be fit for service in the kingdom of God? We should not look back; we must look forward straight, giving our heart to God’s kingdom work completely. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,…”


            As we follow Jesus as his disciples, what should we do with our beloved family members or friends? We must trust in God that if we entrust our beloved people in God’s hands by faith, he will really take care of them very well, even better than we can do. Don’t you remember what happened when Abraham, the father of faith, sent off Ishmael, his beloved firstborn son into the desert, with a gallon of water and a lunch sack? God really took care of him very well and blessed him to form 12 tribes. Also don’t you remember what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back as she was fleeing from Sodom? She became a pillar of salt! Don’t look back! Instead, trust in God, and give your heart to Him fully! Jesus is looking for people that are fit for service in the kingdom of God. Simon Peter was fit for service in the kingdom of God, because, when he was called, he left everything and followed Jesus, even without discussing the matter with his wife. John and James were fit for service in the kingdom of God because, when they were called, they too left everything, even their father and family business. Today, Jesus looks for people that are fit for service in the kingdom of God.


            When we think about these three cases, we realize that following Jesus is not something people can do very casually; it requires real struggle of giving him first priority, and showing him absoluteness and real commitment; it requires our absolute trust – we need to entrust all our concerns for our beloved family members in God’s hands and don’t look back at all, but focus on serving God’s work only. This kind of absoluteness and exclusive commitment is not popular in this very humanistic generation; if we tell people to follow Jesus with this kind of commitment, maybe, they will be upset, saying, “Man, can’t I go to my mother’s birthday?” “Can’t I attend my family gathering?” It is really difficult to teach this kind of things, because these things are very delicate and even sticky. But this is the way of following Jesus. This is what the Bible talks about both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament – love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength; offer yourself as a burnt offering to God, as a living sacrifice; you are really set apart for God alone.  


One Word:       But You Go And Proclaim The Kingdom Of God