Week 3 | Thursday
Week 3: What Attitude Does Jesus Challenge?
The Cost of Following Jesus: Priorities
by Janet Nygren
Read: Luke 9:57-62
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
- When Jesus started out his ministry we saw him taking time to heal, listen to stories, eat dinner with people, restore the dead to their families, etc. Have his priorities changed? What do you sense is different now as he “resolutely sets out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51)?
- If you are preparing for a marathon, or being deployed for war, your actions might reflect changes in your priorities. How might this help explain Jesus’ challenging statements?
- What attracted the crowds to Jesus in his early ministry days? What is Jesus asking his followers to focus on now?
- When you think about “getting your priorities straight,” how do they differ from the things Jesus brings up in this passage?
- Is the urgency regarding the kingdom of God any different now compared to in Jesus’ time?
- Does this passage raise questions you would like to ask Jesus? Be honest! God can handle your questions and concerns.
- Are there times when proclamation or service on behalf of the Kingdom of God feels more or less urgent to you? What makes the difference? What other priorities get in your way?
As Jesus heads to Jerusalem, His focus is on what He must do to fulfill His mission. As people come to Him, He knows time is short. The “Come Follow Me” is not a call to become a disciple and follow Him for months or years. He calls us to “take up our cross daily”. There is only One who can bear the cross He must bear, but His followers must make His Kingdom their number one priority over everything else in their life. The Holy Spirit will guide and empower us—but it will not be easy.
From the beginning, Jesus has consistently said "seek first the kingdom." The parable of the sower and the seed has the same message: the fruitful soil is not distracted or held back by other things. Perseverance also seems very important to Jesus. I think we should always have a sense of urgency about the kingdom, although I have not always lived up to that. I spend a lot of time with college age students and young adults. They often have a hard time seeing the importance of following Jesus because they see this glittering future ahead of them of career, and money, and success. They don't think they need God. During college, I was blessed to encounter Christians who were putting Jesus first in their lives. This had a very profound impact on the course of my life. That is why I believe ministry to high school, college, and young adults is so crucial.
CS Lewis has a great article on The Weight of Glory that helps address this difficult topic. I forget if it was in that article or someone talking about it who said that these priorities don't have to be in competition. The priority of loving God should fuel other loves like family, ministry, etc. It helps me to have that distinction, perhaps because my priority to family is such a high one. Hopefully I'm not deceiving myself, but allowing my love for God to set both my boundaries and strengthen my ability to help them/love them as he calls me to, without neglecting other things.
I would like to ask Jesus what he means by "let the dead bury their own dead." This is obviously not possible in the literal sense, so who does he refer to in the first instance of "the dead?" Is he calling those who choose family over his purposes "the dead"?
Melody, I like your instinct to ask Jesus for more clarification!
This is from the Billy Graham evangelistic association: When someone in Jesus’ day said they wanted to go bury their father, it didn’t necessarily mean he was already dead. Instead, they really were saying that they wanted to stay with their father until he died—something that might be years away. This man was simply looking for an excuse to avoid becoming Jesus’ disciple.
I’ve always been troubled by these statements that Jesus made because they seem so harsh and so hard to understand. But I loved what Nick says about daily taking up our cross. I have been reading through Mark, and I was struck again by the call to discipleship in a nutshell: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. “ (Mark 8:34) No matter what way we slice it, this is our calling in Christ and it is a tough one!
A question I have is in regards to the man who said let me say goodbye to my family. I wonder if had he said instead “let me go get my family and bring them to also be followers of you Jesus” if Jesus would have allowed this.