Luke 9:57 ¶ As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Luke 9:58 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.”
Luke 9:59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
Luke 9:60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”
Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
This is a funny section if you’re an evangelist or a church planter. I mean, c’mon, Jesus had three different people come up and say “I’m going to follow you!”
But Jesus was looking for followers, not followers.
In ancient Jewish culture, “following” a Rabbi meant something very different than following the World Series or following a political leader. “Follow me” was a slang term that meant:
“Come live in my house and stay with me 24/7 and learn about everything I think. Mimic and copy me to such a level that the Rabbi that I followed will continue to be perfectly personified in you and in your followers forever, just like followed a rabbi that followed a rabbi…that followed a rabbi that followed Moses.”
The other thing about Jesus was that He was a traveling Rabbi. This type was always on the move, from city to city, expanding His reach and His influence. For the second two disciples, waiting around just wasn’t practical. The Kingdom of Heaven didn’t have time to wait for that guy to wait for his parents to die. That’s the funny thing about that excuse. Either the father would be dead and he’d be off burying him, or, if he’s talking to Jesus, the father isn’t even dead yet.
This is all reminiscent of Elijah calling Elisha in 1 Kings 19. There, Elisha did go back after his call, but it was to destroy any hope of him coming back home.
For Jesus (and previously for Elijah) follower-ship was all or nothing. It was 100% on His own caring terms and not on the terms of the followers. It wasn’t suicide or abandonment (Peter went back and got his Mother-In-Law healed and still had all of his boats) but it was entirely on Jesus’ terms. Following Jesus was a decision made and not revised.
When you plow a field, you pick a point on the horizon and set off toward it directly. You don’t look around or your plow will zig-zag like a sports car on an icy road. That’s how we follow Jesus. We set our sights on Him, stay the course, and let Him lead. He has our best interests in mind better than we could ever imagine.