As with the prophet Elijah, the time rapidly approaches for Jesus’ return to heaven. He focuses on Jerusalem, where he knows he will pay the ultimate price to love his own, you and me. Throughout this passage, Luke calls us to follow Jesus. The word follow appears three times in these twelve verses: “I will follow you,” “Follow me,” “I will follow you.” Because of all Jesus has done for us, wishy-washy discipleship is no longer an option.
Jesus sends his disciples ahead to prepare the way and to proclaim the kingdom of God even in hostile territory. When they encounter rejection, some disciples ask Jesus if he wants them to cast divine judgment on these scoffers. How easy to let anger get in the way of investing in what’s good for others! But Jesus says “no” and tells them to move on to more receptive places.
Jesus encounters three men on this journey. The first asks to be part of the Lord’s team, to go wherever Jesus goes. Rabbis in Jesus’ time are notable figures of great respect and status. Comfortable benefits often come to their followers. Jesus wants this man to know that there may be no comforts for his followers except to walk in the steps of God’s Son. That may be all, and it should be enough.
The next two men have family responsibilities to attend to, worthy and honorable tasks at home, before they can follow Jesus. Jesus’ harsh retorts serve not to abrogate familial duties, but to emphasize the supremacy of following him first and fully, before everything else. We can invest well in others only after we have invested our all in Christ.
Lord, may we be faithful followers of your Son, who gave his all for us without excuse. Amen.
This week’s readings open with the dramatic scene of Elijah’s departure. As the prophet is taken into heaven by fiery chariots, his cloak falls to his successor, Elisha—symbolic of the continuation of God’s prophetic work. The psalmist praises the Lord for being the source of all good. The Lord gives guidance, protection, security, and joy. Paul reminds us that freedom in Christ comes with responsibility. We cannot live to satisfy our fleshly desires. If we live in the power of the Spirit, then our manner of life should stand out and bear godly fruit. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges his followers with the cost of discipleship. His statements here may seem extreme, but he is pointing out that we can be tempted to find excuses for not proclaiming the kingdom of God.
Read 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14. When has fire—real or metaphorical—changed your life? How have you seen God working in this change?
Read Psalm 16. Recall a time when you needed God’s protection. How did you keep God in front of you?
Read Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Along with our freedom, we are given a responsibility. How do you use your freedom to serve others?
Read Luke 9:51-62. When have you heard Jesus’ call to follow? What have you had to leave behind to follow the one who has “set his face to go to Jerusalem”?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.