The Gospel of Luke: a commentary & meditation 
"No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Scripture: Luke 9:51-62

 51 When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; 53 but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?" 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village. 57 As they were going along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 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." 59 To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 60 But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." 62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Meditation: God's grace sets us free -- from intolerance and prejudice and from everything that would keep us from following him.  When Jesus made preparation to enter a Samaritan village he was met with opposition, no doubt because the Samaritans perceived that he belonged to the other party they were in dispute with.  The Jews and Samaritans had been divided for centuries.  Jesus' disciples were indignant and wanted to see retribution.  Jesus, in turn, rebukes them for their lack of toleration.  Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem in order to die that Jew, Samaritan and Gentile might be reconciled with God and be made one in Christ. When the Lord calls us to follow him he gives us the grace to put aside everything that might keep us from doing his will. Loyalty to Jesus demands sacrifice, especially the sacrifice of one's own will for the will of God.  A would-be disciple responded by saying, I must first go and bury my father, that is, go back home and take care of him until he died.   Jesus surprised his disciples by telling that they must not look back on what they have freely given up, but instead keep their focus clearly on the goal they have set for their lives, union and happiness with God in his kingdom. A plowman who looked back caused his furrow to be crooked.  Likewise, if we look back our path will likely diverge and we'll miss what God has for us   When the going is rough or the way ahead looks uncertain, we are tempted to look back to the "good old days" or to look for "greener turf".Are you resolved to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and to "stay the course" in following him to the end?
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"Heavenly Father, keep my mind fixed on the surpassing  joys stored up for me in your kingdom.  And let me be willing to put up with all the suffering, hardship, and pain that may come my way in serving you."


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 (c)1999 Don Schwager