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Following Jesus

July 1, 2019

Scripture Luke 9:51-62

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”

Luke 9:58b-61 NRSV

It was time for Jesus to move on the fulfillment of his ministry and his time among humankind. He starts a long journey through rough country to get to Jerusalem. There are an awful lot of new experiences that will happen along the way. Jesus has the disciples with him, but also a great number of other followers. Several people ask Jesus questions as they travel. Jesus answers them abruptly and with a sharp edge to his words. This particular lesson can be difficult to understand and a bit upsetting. Why is Jesus so discouraging to these curious onlookers and inquirers? Very likely, the voice of Jesus was pretty harsh, even condemning.

Jesus wants everyone to know: Once we start our time with him, there is no looking back.

The writer of Luke wants us all to understand the sincerity, the honesty, the unrelenting passion, and the determination that comes with total commitment to God. Like a successful coach in any sport might say, “Jesus does not want the impossible from us who follow him. Instead, he wants everything we have.”

Jesus knows what faith can do. The Son of God knows all the benefits possible when we live in communion with God and in communion with one another:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NRSV

These words of Jesus describe our response to the load, the duty, we are to take on with Christ. It does not describe a cool breeze, a hammock in the shade, or a good book to read. These words fail to describe an easy path to ultimate happiness. Instead, Jesus describes transformation into new life and new paths: new work and engaging ministry. We know from the disciples who followed him, that normal expectations, such as security and stability, are replaced with inner peace and the ultimate joy, which we know in God.

Jesus disrupted the norm of his day. His words indicate it, and his actions demonstrated it. No less is expected from each one of us. Look to God for the strength, courage, and continuing support to help right the wrongs we see, to oppose injustice, and to work for peace in this:

God’s kingdom.

Stan Reid


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