As Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he encountered three individuals who gave him nothing but excuses concerning following him and furthering the kingdom of God. From these three individuals we draw the positions many of us find ourselves. At one time or another we each give excuses as did these three.
KINGDOM EXCUSES – SUFFER ME FIRST TO GO AND BURY MY FATHER
By Pastor Delbert Young
Scriptures: Luke 9:51-62, Mark 2:1
LUKE 9:51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
LUKE 9:52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
LUKE 9:53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
LUKE 9:54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
LUKE 9:55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
LUKE 9:56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
LUKE 9:57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
LUKE 9:58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
LUKE 9:59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
LUKE 9:60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
LUKE 9:61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
LUKE 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
We live in a day of another gospel. Paul warned the Corinthians and the Galatians of those who preach another gospel (2Co 11:4; Gal 1:6). Many today want to call down fire and consume all those who do not believe as they believe or burn those who will not receive Jesus. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus said to these of this attitude, ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. Jesus did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. What a total contradiction of the gospel we hear today. The call down fire theology is definitely not the gospel of the kingdom.
These people Samaritans, not Jews. The Samaritan people were a blend of all nations much as the United States is today. God is not interested in destroying. He is interested in saving. If we are in a destroying mind set then we know not what manner of spirit we are of.
People do not need assistance in destroying their lives. People do not need assistance from God to call down fire upon their self. Our job and purpose is to get the life turned around in time to stop the destruction. We are not here to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.
It is important to properly exegete any passage of scripture to get the attitude of the passage. Here the Lord was on his way to Jerusalem to be crucified. He had-steadfast set his face. Time was now very short to complete his earthly ministry. He knew he would soon be given over to the elders and be crucified. When a pressure such as that gets on one’s mind there is no room for foolishness. This is the attitude of the passage.
As Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem three individuals come to him desiring to follow him. From these three individuals we draw the position of all of us who desire to follow Christ. At one time or another we each experience what these three experience. It’s about Excuses in the Kingdom. We can always find excuses to not do what we know the Lord would have us do.
The first person came saying Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. He is saying, “Lord I will follow you anywhere. I will do anything you say. I will say anything you want me to say.” What a noble gesture! Is not this what we all have said at some point? I have said this before, but only to find there was and is a tremendous cost of which sometimes I was not willing to pay, so I found excuses.
The Lord answered this noble gesture with Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. Let’s first get past the poverty teaching usually accompanying this verse. The Lord did have a house (Mar 2:1 [NIV]).
Mark 2:1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
[NIV] Mark 2:1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home.
Capernaum was the resort area of the region. The city was positioned on the Capernaum Sea and the wealthy and well-off lived there. This is where the Lord lived and had a home. The Lord always had a place to stay. What then is the Lord saying? In following Christ and doing his will there comes times when our comfort must be put behind. Things we want to do must be laid down to do what we know he desires we do for the kingdom. These things we are asked to do are never beyond our abilities. Actually they are only the things we know we should do anyway. They are righteous acts of the saints.
Many of you this past week did exactly that. You preached the kingdom of God. You may ask, “How did we preach the kingdom?” You put behind what you wanted and even needed to do to come to me and my family. Do not think for one second that it was unnoticed. My relatives continued to talk about how precious it was you made the effort. Pastor Buren even spoke about it. You preached love and concern. You preached Body Life. You did not find any excuses. Thank you.
This first individual obviously had not counted the cost. He was not aware of the difficulties that arise in following Christ. Jesus knew he would later find excuses, so the Lord warned him of and saved him the trouble.
The second person we see was personally selected by Jesus. The Lord said to him, Follow me. However, the individual said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. To that Jesus said, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. The man gave him his excuses.
Is the Lord saying here we are to turn our backs on our dead or dying parents? No not at all. Our faith teaches us to honor our parents. However, it also teaches how our relationship with people, no matter the closeness of the relationship, can only be second to our relationship with Jesus (Luke 14:26). The principle is we use family and close relationships as excuses to not do what we know we should in the kingdom.
Allow me to be very honest with this point. Over the past three months I have been in the process of burying my father. The Lord spoke to me three months ago and said, well the Lord actually asked me, “Delbert do you realize your dad is dying?” Initially I did not believe it was the Lord. I thought the enemy was trying to place fear in me. At that time my dad’s health was not good, but surely he was not dying, was he? Well, as you know, daddy did die. Allow me to tell you the affects those months had on the kingdom. I was invited by Ralph Martin to go to Africa and preach the kingdom. I refused the offer because I was burying my daddy. It was one of my excuses. Pastor Buren wanted me to go to India and preach the kingdom. I told him I could not because I had to take care of daddy (burying daddy). It was one of my excuses. Someone else has me scheduled for Haiti in November. I was going to decline because I was burying daddy. I was accumulating my excuses. Pastor Vincent in Haiti has invited me to be the morning speaker at a conference in Haiti. I was going to decline because I was burying daddy. We can find our excuses.
It is not that the Lord is not compassionate concerning the death of a loved one. It is when we allow anything to come before the kingdom and the preaching of the kingdom, we falter. Matthew Henry says,
“Not that Christ would have his followers or his ministers to be unnatural; our religion teaches us to be kind and good in every relation, to show piety at home, and to requite our parents. But we must not make these offices an excuse from our duty to God. If the nearest and dearest relation we have in the world stand in our way to keep us from Christ, it is necessary that we have a zeal that will make us forget father and mother… This disciple was called to be a minister, and therefore must not entangle himself with the affairs of this world…. No excuses must be admitted against a present obedience to the call of Christ.”
(from Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
My mission in life is to preach the kingdom of God. When the Lord opens a door I must understand he is very serious about me preaching the kingdom. He will take care of my loved ones until I can return.
How does this relate to you if you are not a “preacher”? By doing exactly what you did this past week. You came, or you sent flowers, or sent a card, or a basket, or an email, or left a message. You preached his love and not his fire.
The second individual placed relationships with others ahead of his relationship and responsibility of the kingdom. He used his excuses.
The third individual came and said Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. To this Jesus replied, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. The excuses were clear.
Jesus relates being a disciple to plowing. This plowing would be plowing with an animal, but would hold true today to plowing with a tractor. If a person was to look back while plowing a balk is made. The furrow becomes crooked. The row is not fit to be used. A life that looks back becomes balked or crooked. Our witness is balked. We say one thing, but another thing is seen. Our rows are not in line. This is true with all Christians, but especially of those proclaiming the kingdom. “Oh, you go to THAT church.” Once people know we go to THAT church, they begin to look for balks. If they see any then our message is damaged.
Lot’s wife looked back. Her life was no longer fit for production. Have you ever seen people attempt to follow the Lord but they kept looking back? They continued to be involved with things at home. Does that mean the Lord does not want us to take care of our homes? Oh no. It is when the things at home come before him and his kingdom that the row is balked. People look at that life, that row, and say, “What a crooked row!”
The enemy will use all three of these excuses, or similar excuses, to stop the progress of the kingdom of God. If the enemy can stop us then he can stop the progress of the kingdom. He will allow us to get in before we consider the cost. He will cause deep grief and sickness in families to stop us. He will cause us to look back and show a crooked life. Our witness becomes one of being crooked.
I want to close with a story I told about daddy at his funeral concerning looking back. My uncle, my dad’s brother Herb, was with dad in dad’s truck years ago. Daddy always drove slowly. We always made jokes about daddy’s slow driving. This particular time there were many cars that could not get around my daddy. My uncle Herb said, “Delbert there are about 15 cars behind us.” Dad replied, “Herb, you don’t need to worry about those cars behind you. It’s the cars in front of you that you need to be concerned about.”
The kingdom is this way. We have all been affected by the identical excuses these three individual were affected with. However, those things behind us will no longer affect us. We can’t allow anything behind us to hinder us or be excuses. We must only be concerned about those cars in front. We must be aware of the cost of the kingdom, of relationships interfering with the kingdom, and of cares at home that cause us to look back. We must not use excuses.
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