Sunday, November 04, 2012



In the last paragraph of Luke chapter 9 Jesus articulates what the cost factor is to be a follower. Jesus offers three scenarios for us to ponder.
FIRST-A FOLLOWER MUST LIVE AS AN ALIEN-As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

As Jesus walked a whole company of people followed Him, not only the Twelve. And from time to time various people would come up alongside Him and engage Him in conversation as they were walking. A man, moved by Jesus' words and vision, says to Him, "I will follow you wherever you go."

Jesus responded that He didn't have the comforts of a home, but was a constant pilgrim on a mission. What Jesus is saying to this "would-be" disciple is, "Are you willing to be a pilgrim-an alien-in this world, just passing through without too many entanglements? It's a certain self-denial that is required when you are following Jesus.

SECOND-A FOLLOWER MUST BE READY TO FOLLOW NOW-He said to another man, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

Think about it. If the man's father has just died, what in the world is the man doing hanging around Jesus? He should be home making funeral arrangements! It's obvious that his father isn't dead yet. He probably isn't even seriously ill, or the man would be asking Jesus for healing. What the man is saying is this: I have responsibilities to my father as long as he lives. I'm not free to follow you right now. But when my dad dies, then I'll follow you. I just can't follow now.

This reminds me of what I have heard over the years from well-meaning people. They say, "As soon as I get victory over this habit or mature enough to have my act together, then I'll get involved in following Jesus." My answer, "We don't have that much time to wait for you to get your act together. Begin now!"
By the way, NOTE what Jesus was telling him to do for Him. He wanted Him to proclaim the kingdom of God. He is not asking him to get involved in a local church or to tell anyone about his church. He isn't telling him to go out a start a new church or go into the world as a missionary. He wants him to proclaim the kingdom of God to others. We'll connect on this message later.

THIRD-A FOLLOWER MUST BE SINGLE-MINDED-Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

All the man wanted to do was go home and say good-bye. That's all. What's so wrong with that? In light of the immediate mission ahead-the sending out of the Seventy to the villages of Judea-for the man to go home will mean that he will miss out, though his request seems reasonable enough. Jesus clarifies His point when He speaks of plowing a field. You never try to plow while looking over your shoulder. If you do, your rows are crooked and your field is difficult to work. If you try to plow while looking back, you're not fit to be in the field. You'd be fired in a hurry by the farmer. Rather, plowmen fix their eyes on a point at the far end of the field and move steadily toward it, not veering to the right side or to the left. There's no time for long good-bye's or bon voyage parties. It's time to focus on the ultimate purpose of the mission.

Each of these excuses for not immediately following Jesus is reasonable. But here's the point. It is time to take hold of the plow. It is time to put kingdom business ahead of worldly business. Following Jesus may be difficult. It may make your life a little less comfortable, but I can assure you that nothing on this earth is more fulfilling, more joy producing, than being a follower of Jesus. And, Jesus accepts nothing less than your all! Are you a follower of Jesus or are you still throwing out excuses?



We now come to a second time Jesus predicts His upcoming death in Luke 9:43-50: While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered over to human hands." But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
This bad news Jesus is sharing with them was just too hard to take. It was still a mystery to them and they were afraid to ask anything further about it. However this isn't the most important issue in this passage. After all of these amazing supernatural experiences-being sent on a mission to heal people, participating with Jesus in feeding over 5000, seeing Jesus totally transfigured before their eyes, and healing a boy who was demonized, the disciples prove that they are missing the point of who Jesus is and what He came to do. They enter into 3 clashes.
FIRST CLASH-An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For whoever is least among you all is the greatest."

In this 1st clash the disciples argue between themselves about who will be the greatest among them. They are still thinking in terms of a political kingdom. They are missing the point that Jesus, the King, came to bring a spiritual kingdom then and there. And Jesus was the key to any sort of positioning, because the kingdom is wherever the king is.
SECOND CLASH-"Master," said John, "we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."

NOTE this 2nd clash. Here the disciples are upset with some other followers of Jesus who were casting out demons in the name of Jesus. Now what was it that was bothersome to them? Get this. They were upset because these followers of Jesus "were not one of us". It was driving them nuts that anyone outside of their little fellowship could be following Jesus. Does that sound familiar?
THIRD CLASH-As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And 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. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them ?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village.

The 1st clash was between the disciples, the 2nd clash was between the disciples and other followers of Jesus, and then this 3rd clash is between the disciples of Jesus and a group of people from another religious system.

All three clashes shared a few commonalities: 1. Each clash was motivated by the pride of being more "right" than another. This is sure all too common among those who claim to be followers of Jesus today. 2. Each clash was divisive from within the group of disciples to outside the Jesus fellowship. 3. Each clash was missing Jesus as the central figure of their lives and thinking.

You see, if you leave Jesus out of the equation of relationships within the kingdom, you will inevitably experience divisiveness. Here's the principle: JESUS UNITES WHILE EVERYTHING ELSE DIVIDES. And what is Christianity known for? It's divisiveness and exclusivity. So, who pushed Jesus out of Christianity?



Just after the transfiguration, everyone must come down from the mountain: The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not."  
"You unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here." Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.

This is a seemingly minor incident, yet there is so much to glean from it. FIRST-Jesus and three of His disciples have been up on the mountain-a true mountaintop experience. They could not have been any higher in their enthusiasm. They have seen Jesus in all His glory and there is no doubt that Jesus is the One God has sent to reach the world and to deliver all of us from totally destroying ourselves. Now, they have to come down from the mountaintop and deal with the down-and-dirty real world. Down at this level there is little that shines very bright and certainly not as bright as what they experienced up on the mountain with Jesus. So, they have to feel a bit down and frustrated with what they are facing.

SECOND-Jesus, too, is frustrated with having to come down from the mountaintop. The father of this boy went to the disciples, seeking help and they were unable to do so. I think Jesus was not only disgusted with the disciples, but with everyone who is missing the point of who Jesus is and what He came to give. You see, Jesus has been investing Himself in training His disciples and trying to communicate to anyone who would listen to Him. He has just come down after shining as bright as lightning and now back to seeing the effects of His glory and radiance.
What's most important is that Jesus didn't stay in an upset mood, but moved right into gear to heal the only son of this man. He wasted no time in doing so.

"And they were all amazed at the greatness of God." I love this response. The longer you watch Jesus the more you see in Him. The more you hang out with Jesus and do your best to follow Him around, He will most surely bring you to this same response. NOTE what Luke says here that they were amazed at the greatness of God. It wasn't the greatness of Jesus, but the greatness of God. When Jesus does His thing, those who are watching don't see any difference between Jesus and God.

I've been repeatedly sharing what a friend shared with me about what Jesus demonstrates to us all. As you watch Jesus you will see three most amazing things: 1. Jesus brings you the highest character qualities of anyone who ever lived. 2. When you follow the teachings and principles of Jesus, you quickly realize that you are most fulfilled in your soul. 3. The ultimate result you will discover as you do your best to follow Jesus is that you will find God.

I've come to this conclusion. If God were to take on flesh and become man, you would expect Him to look just like Jesus. Jesus is the God-Man who raises the bar of character qualities for us to emulate, gives you a sense of meaning and fullness as you try following Him and introduces you into a personal relationship with the God of gods.

His name again? JESUS.