SUFFER ME FIRST TO GO AND BURY MY FATHER
By John C. Carpenter
 
Luke, the beloved physician (Col 4:14), wrote to Theophilus, his fellow disciple, And it came to pass, when the time was come that he [Christ] should be received up [into Heaven], he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9: 51-62). In these verses, Luke, possibly the only Gentile writer of the New Testament, teaches us in his letter two important points: the calling and purpose of Christ, and the cost to the individual who is called by Christ to be a follower of Christ.
 
THE SON OF MAN IS NOT COME TO DESTROY MEN’S LIVES
 
The Scriptures tell us plainly the purpose of Christ’s coming to earth. Christ had determined to go to Jerusalem, and, before his arrival, sent messengers into a village of the Samaritans (Luke 9:51-52). Because the villagers knew of His intending to go to Jerusalem, the villagers did not receive and accept Christ (Luke 9:53). This rejection of Christ made His disciples, James and John, angry, and they wanted and asked the Lord to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them (Luke 10:54). His disciples’ reaction angered the Lord, who rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy [bring death] men’s lives, but to save [deliver, heal, preserve, make whole] them (Luke 9:55-56). The Lord made it perfectly clear to His disciples that His sole purpose and mission in coming to earth was not to bring death, but to deliver from death, and that He would not veer from that purpose.
 
I WILL FOLLOW THEE, BUT
 
Immediately following His interaction with His disciples, the scriptures instruct us that three men approached the Lord, all three making similar statements. Scriptures instruct us regarding the first man,And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Luke 9:57-58). The first man offered to follow the Lord wherever He went, but the Lord responded that animals in nature have a home, but that He did not have anywhere to go. The Lord was making it clear that He had no home, no place to lay his head, no place that offered the comforts of home; and implied that the man should understand that following Christ meant that he would be experiencing the same life, one of inconveniences and discomforts, and no place to “lay his head.“
 
Holy Scriptures then instruct us, And he [Christ]said unto another [the second man], Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer [allow, permit] me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the [spiritually] dead bury their [physically] dead: but go thou [first, and most importantly] and preach the kingdom of God (Luke 9:59-60). In verse 59, the English word “first” is the Greek word “proton,” which means “first in time, place, order, or importance.“ The man was in essence telling the Lord, “I will do as you ask, I will follow you, but burying my father is more important to me than immediately following you and preaching the gospel.” One important lesson here is that when Christ calls, one must place Christ, His words, and His will, first. They must be more important than anything else in life, including ones’ own family members, and even ones‘ own life. For many of us, this is difficult to do, but this is what Christ requires of those who follow Him.
 
Finally, Holy Scriptures instruct us, And another [third man] also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first [“proton; i.e., first in time, place, order, or importance] go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow [and looking forward to a task which lays ahead], and looking back [at something which is considered to be more important than the task at hand], is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:61-62). Again, the Lord is making it clear that when He calls, the called must look forward to and consider most important what Christ has for them, and, without looking back or having regret, leave the past behind.
 
WHOEVER HE BE OF YOU THAT FORSAKETH NOT ALL
 
Luke added later in his letter, And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not [consider less important than Christ]his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh [Apotassomai; i.e., literally to depart from or dismiss, bid farewell, forsake, send away] not all [pas; i.e., all manner of, always, everyone, thoroughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever] that he hath, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:25-33). In response to the call of His heavenly Father, Jesus Christ had one purpose in life: to save lives. When Christ calls an individual to follow Him, Christ expects us, as well, to also have one purpose in life: to save lives. We save lives by submitting to Christ, and obediently following and fulfilling His will and calling on our lives. He expects us to place Him, His will, and His calling as first and most important in our lives. Nothing should come before that. Certainly, our calling make take many forms of ministry, as Christ directs; but He expects us to fulfill whatever He asks him to do. Christ wants and expects us us not to look back, not to consider or long for the old life, but to look forward to serving Him, and be willing, if necessary, to give up parents, brothers and sisters, wives, children, friends, education, and even jobs and careers. As many missionaries have experienced, Christ may even expect us to give up our own physical lives. Instructions to perform and complete ones’ calling and ministry is consistent throughout the Scriptures. The apostle Paul wrote believers in Ephesus, I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk [live, be occupied with] worthy of the vocation [invitation, calling] wherewith ye are called (Eph 4:1), and wrote those in Corinth, Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called (1 Cor 7:20). Paul also instructed the Colossian believers to tell Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it (Col 4:17). Christ expects His followers to place His calling first above everything else, without excuse, as Christ did; and to understand, from the beginning, that our calling will cost us everything. The Lord plainly said, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.  AMEN.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
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