51 As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind and set out on his way to Jerusalem.
52 He sent messengers ahead of him,
who went into a village in Samaria to get everything ready for him.
53 But the people there would not receive him, because it was clear that he was on his way to Jerusalem.
54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”
55 Jesus turned and rebuked them.
56 Then Jesus and his disciples went on to another village.
57 As they went on their way, a man
said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lie down and rest.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But that man said, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.”
60 Jesus answered, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
61 Someone else said, “I will follow you, sir; but first let me go and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus said to him, “Anyone who starts to plough and then keeps looking back is of no use to the Kingdom of God.”
Other readings: 1 Kings 19:16, 19-21; Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11; Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Jesus needs a bed for the night in a certain Samaritan village. When the Samaritans realise Jesus is heading for Jerusalem, they turn him away. There was centuries of friction between Jews and Samaritans. Many Jews regarded Samaritans as worse than pagans and tried to avoid any contact with them. James and John react strongly when the Samaritans turn Jesus away and want to call down God’s judgment to destroy them. But Jesus rebukes his disciples for their response and simply moves on.
Next Luke tells us about a series of encounters with people who seem to be keen to become Jesus’s disciples. Jesus is on his way to die for the sake of the Gospel and is looking for total commitment in those who want to be his disciples. So he is direct and tests their sincerity.
In the first exchange Jesus says: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lie down and rest”. This is a reminder that ultimately Jesus’s home is not in this world. The same is true for Christians: “We, however, are citizens of heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
Another man wants to follow Jesus but first he asks to bury his father. At face value this seems a reasonable request. Jesus’s reply seems harsh and uncaring.
We know Jesus upholds honouring one’s parents. Following Jesus must be our first priority. Taking care of family obligations must be out of obedience to Jesus, not an excuse for delaying obedience to him.
The same idea is expressed in verses 61-62. To plough a straight furrow you need to stay focused on the task in front of you. If you keep looking back you will veer off course. As we learned last week there is no quick fix for disciples. Jesus must come first and following him costs everything.
How do the ideas contained here challenge your own priorities? Have you ever said to Jesus: “Yes, but later …”? In what ways can we “proclaim the Kingdom of God”? Consider Jesus’s attitude to John and James after their emotional outburst against the Samaritans. What can we learn from this?
Ask God to speak to you from today’s passage. Tell him honestly how you feel about it. If you really want to be one of his disciples, ask the Holy Spirit to help you with the areas of your life you find hardest to give to God. Ask God to help you focus on serving him and not get distracted by things that take you off course.
Consider the Kingdom of God. What influence does it have on your life? Consider what it really means to follow Jesus and be his disciple.
Lectio divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word. These outlines for the Sunday Gospel readings are published by the Bible Society. Download at biblesociety.org.uk/lectio. © 2008 United Bible Societies. Bible text Good News Translation, second edition © 1992 American Bible Society, New York
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