Don’t Look Back!

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:61-62

The third man to come to Jesus in this scene is not called by Jesus, he comes on his own. He is a lot like the first man that came and boasts that he will follow Jesus. Giving the timing and his desire to bid farewell to family, he may have had a notion that he would also be preacher in the kingdom of God like the second man. However, Jesus called that man, not this one to that work!

He could support his request since Elisha did just that when Elijah placed his mantle on him:

And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

1st Kings 19:20-21

My question is, if Jesus had called him to preach earlier (of which we have no record), then why did he not set his house in order then? I think this is further evidence that Jesus had not called him to that kind of work. Further, when Jesus did call men to follow Him and sent them forth, they immediately stopped their secular work and followed. These include such men as Levi (Matthew) and Peter.

Whether or not this man was called as disciple or not does not matter. What matters in this case is that, if he does desire to go and preach, the gospel ministry comes at a heavy personal price and has a very strict calling.

I haven’t farmed much in my life but I have had the privilege the last few years to work in God’s earth to produce food for my family. One of the first lessons I learned in plowing a field is to look straight forward at a fixed object in the distance. If I didn’t do this, my rows looked more like a cooked spaghetti than farm rows! 

The call of a gospel minister is similar to regular discipleship but at a much higher level of expectation and commitment. We know that a disciple cannot have two masters. Now, we see that a minister of the gospel should have a laser focus on what God intends for him to say, where to say it, and when. That is tough!

This means that the preaching of the gospel is the minister’s first calling. If he needs to have secular work, it cannot get in the way. The minister is not given permission to neglect his role as a husband and father. Therefore, the gospel minister must set his life in order so that there are little or no distractions.

This man may have desired some notoriety like the first man. What he did not realize was that he was asking for a level of devotion and commitment that he was probably not willing to make!

If a man feels led to preach the gospel, he should consider this lesson and be in deep prayer and preparation before he even begins to answer that call. He should continue in prayer and preparation while he carries out God’s orders. And it would be a true help to the cause of Christ if his church and family freed his hands as much as possible to the good work.

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