When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.....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.' To another he said, 'Follow me,' but he said, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' 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 a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
This passage from Luke's Gospel seems hard to take, but let's dig a little deeper. When we're keen to follow Jesus and to get our Christian life on track, we should consider what Jesus says: 'Foxes have holes... but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.' Those who follow Jesus will find life difficult. If we truly wish to take up his mantle today we must accept that the Christian life will not be an easy option. We can't just stop following him because the family or work have got in the way, or because our health is causing a difficulty. This is not something we just pick up and put down.
The second would-be disciple wants to go and bury his father, which sounds reasonable. But a number of theologians have pointed out, he may mean 'when my father is dead', which could be years hence. Many today seem to think it will be ok to follow Jesus when they get older, or when they have found a good job, or got married and had children. But Jesus turns it back on the man. He says it's not enough just to follow him, we are also to 'go and proclaim the kingdom of God'.
Lastly, Jesus reminds us of something very obvious - a ploughman looks ahead to plough a good furrow, even if he looks back at the end of a row. As Christians we too must forge ahead, not looking back. We must apply our Christian principles (our core message) to our life, that is to love God, and to love one another now and in the future.
You have called us to follow You
and we have heard that call.
Help us to accept any hardship
that this brings,
and to look ahead rather than backwards
to take Your message of love
to all whom we know,
now and in the future.