Looking back ∙
Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God. – Luke 9:62
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
8 Yes, everything else is worthless compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
9 and become one with him.
10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Plowing is the process of turning over and loosening the top layer of soil. Plowing fields turns organic matter, such as manure, into the soil, adding nutrients. This makes it easier for seedling crops to take root and has the added benefit of removing crop residue and weeds.
It isn’t easy to plow. One cannot plow when it is too wet, as it dries into rock-hard clumps. One cannot plow when it is too dry; it is like plowing blacktop. When the moisture is just right, plowing goes well.
Plowing requires that you plan an efficient route and know where you will need to stop and turn the plow. It is most important when you begin to plow; you pick a stationary object on the far side of the field, fix your eyes on it, and plow towards it. This keeps your rows straight. You do not look backward. If you turn your head back, you will veer off course. The results can be wasted effort or even catastrophic loss.
Being a disciple also requires focus and concentration. It is hard work similar to plowing. When a farmer does not concentrate and keep his eyes looking forward, things do not work out well. Discipleship requires discipline and sacrifice. When we allow the events of everyday life to distract us, we render ourselves unfit for discipleship in the kingdom of God. Discipleship requires faithful, focused following.
Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead, I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead.
REFLECT & PRAY
In this world, success is measured by human achievement. The more we achieve, seemingly the more successful we are. But in the Father’s kingdom, it is not so.
Father encourage me to set my eyes on the things that really matter and consistently and faithfully pursue them.
Discipleship is hard. It is very similar to becoming a world-class athlete or musician. It is about dedication and priorities. Discipleship is a master-apprentice relationship. The Lord Jesus Christ is the master, and the children of the King are His apprentices. To learn from Him and follow Him requires putting His teaching, directives, and demands before all else. This includes the usual claims of everyday life and family. The requirements of the Lord Jesus Christ for discipleship are among His “hard teachings.”
Many children of the King express interest in being disciples, but there are often hidden issues that soon surface. So it was for the three wannabes in Luke 9.
57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
60 But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! You must go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say goodbye to my family.”
62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
The first man was very willing until he heard the cost: he had to give up his everyday home life. The sacrifice was more than he could make. The second man was called, but he was worried about his father’s funeral. Love for family is very important, but our love for the Lord Jesus Christ is to have precedence. The third man could not follow Christ because he looked back instead of forward. There is a place for loving farewells, but they should not get in the way of His call to action. One cannot move forward effectively while looking back. The results may be disastrous.
Although we may conclude that discipleship is only for the few, the brave, a prestigious elite, nothing could be further from the truth!
The reasoned final words of wise people are often considered among their most important. The cogent last words of the Lord Jesus Christ before he ascended to heaven involved discipleship. They are compelling and all-inclusive.
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.”
19 “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
20 “Teaching these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The Lord Jesus Christ begins by telling His followers that He has all the authority necessary to accomplish the task He assigns them. Wherever they go, He is present with them. Most are very average people, even below average. Yet they are called and commissioned to do extraordinary things through His power.
1 Corinthians 1:26-28
26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
Matthew 28:19-20 has only one imperative verb, one command: make disciples. The Greek verb translated as make disciples is matheteuo. Matheteuo means to make a disciple of someone, to cause someone to become a follower, and hence, to persuade people to commit to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek words translated go, baptizing, and teaching are three aspects of the process.
The Lord Jesus Christ invited each child of the King to follow Him, and He would make us “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). That is, His disciples would be enabled to become disciple-makers. Each of us has ultimately been created for this purpose. We are to spread the message of the gospel from wherever we begin to the ends of the earth. There are no exceptions.
We can confidently bring the truth of Jesus to the world because we have Jesus’ divine authority to back it up (Stanley).
© Dr. H 2022