Luke 9 v 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
While Jesus made his way to Jerusalem he was in a sense “homeless.” He had to sleep in other people’s homes or inns, not having a base to which he could return on any permanent basis. His disciples following him to Jerusalem would fare no better.
This points to a great truth for the future. Those who wish to follow Christ on the road to glory must understand that this world is not their home. Christians become travellers always moving on. They use life’s lodgings – places along the way, but they know that at the end they are strangers and have no place to settle down, this side of Heaven.
This does not mean of course that we cannot have a family, home, children or a job. It is referring rather to the inner attitude of the believer who knows that nothing in this world is permanent. So he sits lightly to the things of this world and seeks to serve Christ in the best way he can.
One of the ways in which we demonstrate that we belong to another realm, as Christians, is to acknowledge that Christ comes first, even when it is a matter of home duties. The man who said Lord, first let me go and bury my father”, was really asking Christ for permission to delay following him until his elderly father had died.
It is important to understand that Jesus directs people to look after their elderly parents. It is a God given duty which may not be put aside. (See Matthew 15 v 3 – 9)
But the man who spoke to him in Luke 9 v 59 makes two mistakes. The first is he sees his father as a prior duty before becoming a follower of Christ. The truth is when it comes to Jesus there are no prior duties. He is always the prior claim himself. If Jesus is really God’s son, our first duty is always to him.
The second mistake was that this man was not looking for permission to look after his elderly father, but to bury him. This meant a possible long delay and demonstrated that this man had no concept of the urgency and importance of the need to follow Christ.
Jesus said in effect – let those who are spiritually dead, bury those who are physically dead. You have a greater responsibility to preach the Gospel.
These are not unkind words, but Luke’s way of shortening the discussion to bring home the point that we must always keep first things first as disciples, even if it means choosing Christ above some perceived family duty.
It’s hard to be a Christian, but it’s worth it.