Veering off course
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;
3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’”
4 And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die!
5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened . . .
Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (also known as KAL007) was a scheduled Korean Air Lines flight from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska. On September 1, 1983, it was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor. Due to a navigational error made by the KAL crew the airliner deviated from its original planned route, veered off course, and flew through prohibited Soviet airspace about the time of a U.S. aerial reconnaissance mission.
The Soviet Air Forces treated the unidentified aircraft as an intruding U.S. spy plane, and destroyed it with air-to-air missiles. All 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed.
Veering off course, not following the planned, or intended, route, can lead to serious consequences, even death.
Luke 9:62 No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
‘Looks back’ is literally looks unto the things behind. The imagery comes from 1 Kings 19:19-22. It refers here to gazing back on the things abandoned in order to follow Jesus (cf. Philippians 3:13). In this instance the reference is to family relationships (Luke 9:61), but the saying has broader implications as well (cf. 2 Timothy 2:4)” (Stein).
If you are from a big city, you may have no idea what Jesus intends by this illustration. But if have ever tilled a garden or plowed a field, the significance is obvious. To till a plot of ground properly, you must fix your eyes firmly on an object straight ahead of you and consistently move in that direction. Looking away from the direction you are headed, even for a fraction of a second, can result in an unintended deviation.
The Lord Jesus Christ explains the difficulty and dedication of choosing to be a disciple with a well-known everyday activity. Following the Lord Jesus Christ involves focus, hard work, and dedication similar to plowing. A farmer who does not concentrate on his plowing is not a fit farmer. Likewise a disciple who allows life to distract him from his duties as a disciple is unfit for the kingdom (Constable).
The Greek term translated not fit, unfit is euthetos. Euthetos is literally “well-placed,” that is suitable, able, adequate to meet the standards required. “Jesus points out that the kingdom has no room for those who look back when they are called to go forward” (Morris).
If this seems a bit harsh, it is. But there is a vast difference between entering the kingdom of God by faith, and walking with the King day by day.
Unless we focus, and purpose to do what is right, it is easy to miss the mark. We must not look back when are trying to go forward. Sadly, this is a frequent attitude of children of the King. They make a decision to faithfully follow but to not live up to it. Some of the Father’s children are repeatedly looking backwards because their hearts are stuck in the past. They attempt to walk forward either regretting their past lives or wistfully recalling “the good old days.
Only when we live within the Father’s protective boundaries can we experience the freedom Christ purchased for us (Stanley).
REFLECT & PRAY
Success and freedom are the result of good life choices and continuing to follow through on them.
Father I too frequently succumb to poor choices and suffer unintended consequences. Forgive me and restore me.
Children of the King regrettably often find themselves “off course.” We frequently seek the freedom to do what we want. It is not always about allurements and the sense we are being deprived. Often, we are subtly enticed to give into hurtful feelings like anger, loneliness, or rejection. Be aware that the enemy is shrewd and clever, and that sin is crouching at the door (Genesis 4:7).
When we yield, the consequences can be devastating. When we divert from our intended path, instead of freedom we find ourselves in greater slavery. We fall deeper into bondage and sin, lose our fellowship with Christ, and justify ourselves by blaming others.
Although Christ has set believers free from slavery to sin, we, like Eve, oftentimes long for the “freedom” to do what we want. But whenever we give in to sinful desires, we’re behaving like slaves instead of living as free children of God. He’s given us the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to say no to sin if we’ll just yield to His leadership (Stanley).
The best defense is a good offense, determine to do what is right, and keep on doing it.