From the Pulpit: Charles E. Blake II West Angeles Church of God in Christ
“Lord, I will follow You, but......."; Luke 9:61
Luke 9:61 says, “And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but… But is one of those words that by its nature signifies a point of interruption, or a change of direction. "I was on my way to the store BUT the phone rang." "I planned on going to church this morning BUT I remembered that it was the final round of the playoffs.” Anytime I'm in a conversation with someone and they're telling me something good or giving me a compliment then all of a sudden, they say 'but', I know that I'm about to hear something that I might not want to hear. "We love the work you've been doing, it's been absolutely fabulous BUT......". "We've been married for 20 years. We have some beautiful children. We've built a beautiful life together and I'll always love you BUT…" In fact, whatever someone said before slips into nothingness as soon the word "but" shows up in the sentence. It comes to the point that whatever compliment or good thing that was being said feels like only a diversion, a disarming tactic that sets you up for the unpleasant nature of what was their true thought or whatever came after the 'but'.
It is a tragic situation, the promise of so many things, so much potential that could have been reached in life BUT something went wrong, BUT something was done, BUT something happened that destroyed that bright future.
There’s the young man who got A’s all his young life. He went on to college and graduated at the top of his class in business school. He showed such promise on his path to becoming CEO, BUT he couldn't keep his hands off of his secretary and other female employees. The talented high school athletes on their way to football stardom supported by their whole town BUT they got drunk and took advantage of a sixteen-year-old girl at a party and now they're on their way to jail. That talented young singer at the start of her career who seemed to make the heavens open up every time she sang BUT she overdosed and died just as she was about to release her first album. 'But', such a small and in many cases, tragic word. "Lord I will follow you, but…"
At this point in the text in Luke 9, the ministry of Jesus is in full swing. He had already given his mission statement in Luke 4:18-19 saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” He has been teaching and preaching in all of the synagogues in and around the regions of Galilee, Capernaum, and Judea. Everywhere he went Luke says that reports about him spread throughout the entire region. Everyone had either heard of or was talking about this man.
One day when he was traveling from one village, again there was a huge crowd around Jesus and someone said, “Lord, 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.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, BUT let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
These men along with almost everyone else in the crowd heard that Jesus of Nazareth was in the area and probably just wanted to hear something that would give them a boost and get their mind off of things. No doubt that they, along with the entire region, had heard how Jesus had healed the sick and raised the dead; spoke to the storm and it obeyed him and commanded devils and spirits.
Maybe people just wanted to hear an inspirational word that would pep them up and send them on their way. Perhaps they wanted a free meal. But before they knew it they were getting more than they bargained for. Jesus said: "Follow me". It must have been a terrifying and overwhelming experience. "Follow me", they could have been men whose names we remember and celebrate to this day. God could have done something in their lives that we'd still be talking about. They could have been great....BUT!
Some of us may come to church just to get our minds off what's going on at the job or at the house for a moment. We may be hurt or depressed and just need a pick-me-up for. Sometimes we come to church just to see what's going to happen that day, who’s going to be singing, or who is going to be at service. Church to some of us has become a form of entertainment. We approach it with the same attitude as going to a movie or a ball game. We come to church and worship but we don't really that our lives could actually be transformed. All of a sudden Christ Jesus looks at us right square in our eyes and our hearts and says: "Follow me" and we say: "Yes Lord, I would follow you BUT....I start this new job tomorrow." "I would follow you BUT I need to make some money to pay these bills." "I would follow you BUT I need to spend my time on my career." "I would follow you BUT I need a husband."
One of the men that Jesus told to follow him wanted to go home and bury his father. If we try to we can see him, feeling the pain of his loss, afraid of the future and the unknown and feeling the stress of taking care of his family. The Jews were very particular about this sort of thing. There were many preparations to be made.
If you really look at these men’s excuses you'll see that these by themselves are not bad things. Most of the time our reasons for not really doing what God may call us to do seem like good valid reasons don't they? Isn't it a good son that would pay proper respect to his dearly departed father? Isn't it a good father or good host that wouldn't abandon his guest order family without at least saying goodbye?
This begs the question: Does God wish that we abandon our families and those that we bear some kind of responsibility to? Think about it, on one hand we are told to honor our mother and father, yet in this account, leaving them to follow Christ is encouraged. Almost everyone that is saved has someone in their family who doesn't agree with their decision to be a Christian.
Following Jesus may not mean literally abandoning your family but it may mean abandoning the way that they taught you to think and live if it doesn't line up with the Word of God. We sometimes forget that the bulk of those who heard Jesus speak agreed with the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin and following Christ would have put someone in direct conflict with their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and wives who did not believe Jesus or what he was saying.
It seemed like Jesus didn't care that these men were going through what they were going through. One wanted the security of a home. Another wanted to bury his father. The third had a divided heart and put his family ahead of Jesus. But Jesus wanted to emphasize the radical requirements involved in following him.
If we are honest with ourselves we would have to realize that there will never be a right time to follow Jesus in the future. There will always be an excuse and some of them are not really bad. There will always be another 'but', another excuse not to give your all to Christ. My favorite is "I will follow you BUT I need to get my life together first." Let me tell you that you won't get your life together unless you follow Christ. The right time to follow Jesus is right now. The Messiah knew that there would always be a reason 'but' that would keep them from following Him, but the call to follow is still made by our Lord and Savior.
By following Christ, you'll save everything that you were afraid to lose. Don't let the things of this world, the 'buts' keep you from having your best life and future. Make the decision to follow Christ today. Romans 5:8 says BUT GOD demonstrates His own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Make the decision to follow Christ today.