May 6th 2009

Let Me First Say Goodbye

“Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord: but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family’. Jesus replied, ‘No-one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back, is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.'”
Luke 9:61-62 (NIV)

There can be few more poignant scenarios to imagine than a young man saying goodbye to his family as he sets out to seek fame and fortune. In one way it seems such a trivial request for a small delay, that our natural response would probably be, “Of course, what’s another few minutes anyway?” The delay seems so minimal that it hardly appears to matter one way or the other.

In fact, the Old Testament records Elisha doing just that. The story is told in I Kings 19:19-21, but we will just look at verse 20 (NIV). Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye”, he said, “And then I will come with you.” “Go back”, Elijah replied, “What have I done to you?”

In hearing the young man, Jesus, however, quickly detected a problem. It is as though Jesus knew that if this young man went back to his family to say goodbye, he would be persuaded to stay and not return to being a disciple of Jesus.

Jesus illustrates his thoughts by reminding the young man of a principle that he would see all around him. You cannot plough in a straight line by looking backward. It would be somewhat like trying to drive a car, but only look through the rear-view mirror.

Did Jesus know that this young man still had a yearning to be at home rather than be a servant of the Kingdom of God? This passage tells us that we must establish our priorities and then with singleness of mind, pursue them. There is no time for looking back!

If we aspire to be a disciple of Jesus and follow him in pursuit of service to the Kingdom of God, then that is the goal on which we must keep our eyes and resist all temptations to turn away and be diluted by the distractions all around us.

Prayer
Father in Heaven, help us to keep our eyes on you and keep our priorities straight. We want to follow without looking back or being distracted from our Christian walk as disciples of Jesus.
Amen

Study by David Silcox 

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