June 27, 2010
Proper 8
Luke 9:57-62

My 2-year-old daughter wanted desperately to help. Repeatedly, she said, “Daddy, I want to help!” The volume of the plea continued to grow with each repetition. The problem was that I could not find a way to involve her in bathing her infant brother. Something told me my wife would have a problem with me handing over the baby and the bathtub to a 2-year old while I sat on the couch.

Then my son tossed his pacifier from the tub, and it landed at the feet of my 2-year old. Here was the opportunity to involve my daughter in bathing her brother. “Honey, could you get Bubba’s pacifier for Daddy,” I requested. I never will forget: She looked at the pacifier, looked at me, cocked her head, placed her hand on her hip and said indignantly, “I tant do dat!” Picking up a pacifier obviously was beneath her! 

After the baby was clean and the tub was dry, I wondered if that was the way God feels about us. We beg to be a part of His plan; we pledge our participation; we offer our assistance; but when God provides an opportunity we reply indignantly, “I tant do dat!” 

Jesus certainly felt the sting of rejection from supposed disciples who refused to obey.  Interestingly, the excuses offered 2,000 years ago are very similar to the excuses we offer today! 

I. Excuses related to personal comfort are unacceptable for disciples of Christ.
The first would-be follower made a bold boast before Christ. He claimed that he would follow Jesus wherever He went (Luke 9:57). The response of the Master reveals that Jesus might need some work on His recruiting skills or at least His salesmanship. The man was ready to sign on the dotted line, and Jesus ruined it by revealing the journey of discipleship is not easy or comfortable. It seems that Jesus either made a mistake or contemporary Christianity has erred.

Jesus knew that many who feigned interest in Him actually were fair weather fans, like those who buy the team’s T-shirt only after securing the championship. It is easy to support a team when it goes undefeated, but are you willing to cheer when the players can’t win a game? Jesus promised His followers they would have trouble (John 16:33).  What excuses related to personal comfort hinder your obedience?

II. Excuses related to worldly concerns are unacceptable for disciples of Christ.
Jesus commanded another man to follow Him. This man replied by saying he first must bury his father. 
It is important to note the man’s response could have had multiple meanings: 1) The man’s father recently had passed away, and he was observing the lengthy period of mourning; 2) The man’s father was ill and near death.

The primary problem with the man’s response resided in the word first. Jesus instructed His followers to seek His kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). While the care of one’s parent is important, anything that comes before Christ or takes precedence over Christ is an idol. What worldly concerns are supplanting Christ on your priority list? 

III. Excuses related to personal relationships are unacceptable for disciples of Christ.
The final would-be follower tells Jesus he will begin following after he bids farewell to his family. The man’s family is more important to him than Christ. This man, like the other, uses the word first, revealing the familiar problem of delayed obedience. 

Occasionally when I call my children to pick up something left upstairs, I hear them exclaim, “Coming.” After the minutes multiply, I realize they are not coming nearly as fast as I had hoped. They are coming eventually, not immediately. 

Many would-be followers are offering eventual obedience to Christ. They allow the opinions and demands of others to delay their obedience. What personal relationships are delaying your obedience to Christ?

Jesus demands tunnel vision from His followers. Like a farmer tilling a row, they must focus on their destination lest the row be crooked (Luke 9:62). Followers of Christ must focus on Christ and block out the distractions of the world.

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