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 plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
The German Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, paid the ultimate price for his faith and opposition to the ideologies of Hitler when hung at Flossenburg concentration camp on April 9th 1945. Bonhoeffer held that the Church, “had to share in the sufferings of God at the hands of a godless world” if it were to be the true Church of Christ. A similar price was paid by the Polish Catholic priest Maximilian Kolbe, put to death at Auschwitz in 1941. Closer to home, my late Jewish mother’s father, who had received the military cross during the First World War fighting for Germany, perished at Auschwitz. Her great grandmother was shot at Theresienstadt. The Holocaust enigma remains an insoluble mystery for Judaism.
Our passage today from Luke as to the cost of following Jesus needs to be understood in the context of the “black and white” tonality of first century Rabbinic Judaism. Contrary to expectation, Jesus did not concentrate on the adventure of discipleship; its opportunities for personal growth, travel and evangelism; rather the tough, unconditional choices that would have to be made.
Any current organisation can only attract employees and promote company business by successful marketing strategies but candidates’ success remains complex; as seen in Lord Alan Sugar’s “The Apprentice!”
Travelling in obedience to God’s call is one of the central tenets of Luke’s Gospel; following Jesus is not easy – something the three “would be followers” in the text learned to their cost.
The lessons to be taken from this passage are that we should not base our security in material possessions alone but in our relationship with God; our priorities have to be assessed. Secondly that we should keep our earthly ties in perspective; continuing to respect our allegiances to our loved ones but prepared to live our lives in obedience to God. Finally, that in following Jesus we must be true to our word, refuse to be distracted and give our lives wholeheartedly to him.
Teach me your ways, O Lord; make them known to me. Teach me to live according to your truth, for you are my God, who saves me. I always trust in you. Amen
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