Luke 9:61-61 (NIV)
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Again, a man is called by Jesus, but begs to defer his whole-hearted service until he gets things in order back home. And, again, such pleas for delay in responding to the call of God are met by His disapproval. Once Jesus puts His call on a life, the call to follow Him, to leave all behind, take up one’s cross, and become His disciple, His apprentice, that call must be followed at once.
Part of this is logical. If a person goes back to try to tie up all the loose ends before starting to follow Jesus, they will often get enmeshed again in their old life attachment, find more loose ends that need to be tied up, further delay obedience to the call, until the call is all but forgotten. Their look back ultimately costs them their place in the kingdom.
But part of this is spiritual. Jesus’ call to follow is God’s own call to become one of His people. And when the call comes from God, it is incredible that the person would say, “I’d like to be one of Your people, Lord. But I’d like to do it tomorrow, or maybe next week.” As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NIV): “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Remember that Jesus, at that very moment, was on His way to Jerusalem to die. In just a few days He would be hanging from a cross, and the opportunity to follow Him would be lost (at least until after Pentecost – the post-resurrection appearances seem to have been limited to those who were already His followers – 1 Corinthians 15:4-8) Even though few understood it at the time, the time was very short. The call had to be followed “now or never.”
Father, still today we have no right to delay our answer to your call for a day, or a week, or longer while we tie up loose ends. We may not even be alive tomorrow or in a week! Today really is the only day we are guaranteed an opportunity to respond, and we must take it, or see the opportunity lost while we decide. And I can see that this is not only true of salvation (as this passage is usually applied to), but to the call to do anything in Your kingdom. Lord, I commit myself to faithfulness in this, too – so that hearing Your call, understanding Your will, and obeying, is all a single motion. Amen.