Do We Mean What We Say?

Luke 9:57-58 ESV

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Do you remember the words of Peter that he said to Jesus? He said, “’Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!’ And all the disciples said the same.” Matthew 26:35 ESV

But, what did Jesus say to Peter prior to this? He said, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Mark 14:30 ESV

And, we all know how that all ended. Jesus’ words rang true when Peter did, in fact, deny Jesus three times, and at least one time he did so vehemently. So, what Peter said he would do, what he thought he would do, and what he actually did do, when “push came to shove,” were entirely different.

So, have you ever spoken before you thought? I have. Have you ever said just what came to your mind at the time? Do you ever “think out loud” like I do sometimes? You say what you think without really thinking through what you are about to say. You say how you are feeling at the moment, but it may not truly express the reality of what you might actually do.

You feel it and therefore you say it, but that isn’t always a good thing, is it? And, it isn’t good, especially if you don’t consider ahead of time the ramifications of what you are about to say.

So, sometimes we commit to things that we later realize we are not going to be able to carry out. Yet, sometimes our commitments are heart-felt, and out of compassion and caring for others, but sometimes we speak beyond what we are able to do, or beyond what we are willing to do, too.

I believe that was the case with this “someone.” He probably felt very sincere in his heart that he would actually do what he said he would do, that he would follow Jesus wherever he went, but then the reality sunk in to what he just committed himself to do.

And, it doesn’t say here how he responded to what Jesus told him, but in context with the next two situations, which seem similar, I think we can presume that he might have misspoken. And, he might have backed down from what he originally said he would do once he realized the cost.

Luke 9:59-60 ESV

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Now, this situation is a little different from the first one mentioned. In the first one, the man was the one to initiate the commitment to follow Jesus, and then Jesus explained to the man the cost of following him. He wanted the man to know what he was getting into ahead of time, which is a good thing, and which Jesus practiced all throughout his ministry.

In this scenario, though, Jesus approached a man, and he called him to follow him. But, the man hesitated. And, from what I have read on this, the feeling is that the man’s father was not already dead, but that he wanted to wait until his father passed away before he would leave to follow Jesus. And, that could have been years away from when Jesus called him. So…

Have you ever hesitated to obey the Lord? I have. Have you ever made excuses for why you are not following the Lord in obedience?

Perhaps you are young and you want to go off to college, have a career, maybe get married and have children, buy a nice house, settle down in a community, and so the Lord’s plans for you may not be the same as what you have in mind. So, you stall, and you hesitate, and you make excuses for why you can’t follow the Lord 100%, because you fear what he might ask of you. Or else you know what he wants, and you just don’t want to do it.

Or, perhaps you are going through some really tough times, and you may be angry with God for messing with your life and with your plans, and so you don’t want to obey him, but you want to sulk in your own misery, instead. For, you had this idea that following Jesus was supposed to be a picnic, but then life handed you lemons, instead, and so now you just want to pacify yourself with entertainment, games, movies, etc. while ignoring God.

Some people may not really want to follow the Lord, because they know what it will cost them, because he told us it means death to sin and living godly and holy and pure lives, pleasing to him. But, they may mouth empty words which say “I will follow you anywhere,” but then not obey, because honestly they don’t want to give up control of their own lives, and they don’t want to have to suffer the cost of following Jesus wherever he leads them.

And if you are like that, perhaps you have just been playing games with God, stalling, taking up space, entertaining yourself, mouthing commitment to Christ, but you are still making excuses for why you aren’t going to the world, proclaiming the kingdom of God. So, the question is “Why?”

Luke 9:61-62 ESV

Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

This one seems similar to the previous one. Both people seem to be making excuses for why they can’t follow Jesus in obedience, fully and immediately. And, so they use stall tactics, which can go on for many years, even for a lifetime for some people. The excuses then may never seem to end.

But, this one seems much stronger with regard to Jesus’ response. In the previous one, he gave counsel to the man with regard to what he SHOULD DO. This one is more of a warning, I believe, if we DON’T DO what Jesus says to do.

The whole idea of this, I believe, is that to “put his hands to the plow” means to accept God’s plan for our lives, to do the work he has called us to do, and to follow him wherever he leads us.

And, it all begins with us believing in Jesus Christ, dying with him to sin, and being raised with him to new life in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. For, faith in Jesus Christ is a commitment to leave our sinful lives behind us to follow Jesus in obedience to his commands (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

So, if we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and we die with him to sin, then that means we continue to die daily to sin, and it means that we now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh. For, by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh as a matter of our life’s course (See: Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).

But, if we have this idea that belief in Jesus Christ is a mere prayer we pray or some mere acknowledgment of what he did for us on that cross, or some mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, without repentance, then we have the wrong picture of why Jesus died for us.

For, it means death to our old way of living, and it means a life of obedience to our Lord, to follow him in his ways and in his truth, and to make him Lord, owner and master of our lives rather than us maintaining control over our own lives and destiny.

So, if we look back, the idea is that we long for the old life back, or perhaps we never did make that commitment to Christ to begin with, because we were misled to believe we didn’t have to, and so we never did die to sin.

In Summary

So, what this is saying is that faith in Jesus Christ is a lifetime commitment and it is a complete change of heart, mind, attitude, thinking and behaving. And, it is going forward with Jesus, in obedience to his commands, and it doesn’t look back, wishing to return to the old life, or having never left the old life to begin with.

For, faith in Jesus Christ is a one-way ticket to heaven. There is no going back to how we lived before. It doesn’t mean we will never fail, or that we will never ever stray from our pure devotion to the Lord, but that faith in Jesus Christ is the way of the cross, not the way of the flesh.

So, we have to choose. We either have to choose to die with Christ to sin and to follow him in surrender and in obedience to his commands, to go wherever he sends us, and to do whatever he says to do, or else we choose death, not life, and we choose to follow our flesh, and not God.

And, thus, we are not fit for the kingdom of God, because we still wanted to rule our own lives, for we would not die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ for eternity.

So, just know this. If we live to the flesh, we will die in our sins. But, if we live to Jesus Christ and to his righteousness, then we will have eternal life with God (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6; 2 Co. 5:10).

He Gave Me a Song

Songwriter: Alton Howard

He took my burdens all away, up to a brighter day…
Brighter the way grows ev’ry day, walking the heav’nly way…
I am redeemed no more to die, never to say goodbye…
And some of these days in that fair land, sing with the chorus grand…

He gave me a song, to sing about
He lifted me from sin and doubt
O, praise His name, He is my King
A wonderful song He is to me

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One thought on “Do We Mean What We Say?

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