He said to another man, “Follow me.” But that man said, "Sir, first let me go back and bury my father." Jesus answered, "Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60 TEV)
Jesus says we’re called to focus on him, not the law and commandments.
This doesn’t mean he’s saying the law and commandments are not important. In fact, he says he came to fulfill every detail of the law (Matthew 5:17-20). Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God with every ounce of your being and to love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself (Matthew 22: 34-40).
Jesus doesn’t want us to use the law as an excuse to ignore him. The disciple in today’s verse makes what seems to be a reasonable request: “Let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus, insightful about human nature, understands that for this disciple, it is a delaying tactic. In effect, the disciple is saying, “Let me do what I’m supposed to, and then I’ll come follow you.”
How often do we say we have to do this or that before we can do what Jesus tells us to do? The point Jesus makes is that he must be the priority over everything and everyone in our lives: “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one's own self!—can't be my disciple” (Luke 14:26 MSG).
He’s talking about loyalty of the heart, not abandonment of those we love. Think about Peter warming his hands by the fire just before the rooster crows. Will he choose for Jesus or choose for himself? Every day we are faced with the same choice in everything we do.
Jesus may seem unreasonable; yet Oswald Chambers says we should never try to interpret such commands separate from the Son of God who spoke them. Jesus has the right and authority to demand such loyalty from us.
Think of it this way: we follow the law and the commandments by following Jesus. When we follow him, we know we are doing the right thing, regardless of how it may look to others or how counter-intuitive it may seem to us.
Is there something Jesus asked you to do, but you’re delaying that step of faith? If Jesus brings conviction, that doesn’t equate to condemnation. His desire is for you to follow him, and he is calling you to obedience. He is calling you to fulfill your destiny.
This devotional is based on Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s ‘The Cost of Discipleship’ by Jon Walker.
Saddleback Resources offers a small group Bible study related to these devotionals: The Invisible War-Winning the Battle of Temptation.
Jon Walker is the managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotionals. © 2011 Jon Walker. Used by permission.