In Luke 9:51-56, Jesus sets out for Jerusalem to carry out his redemptive mission. He’s heading toward the cross. Along the way, he invites some men to follow him, but gets what we would probably consider legitimate excuses.
“Let me take care of my dying father.”
“Let me say good-bye to my family.”
Jesus’ reply seems calloused. “Don’t put your hand to the plow and look back.” He knows what awaits them in Jerusalem. Half-hearted or divided commitment will not do. They are on a mission.
Right after this, Jesus sends out the 70, telling them the harvest is great but the workers are few. Could these men with excuses have been on his mind when he spoke about the great harvest and the few workers? Could they have been added to the 70 if they weren’t half-hearted with divided loyalties? We read that the 70 returned with great joy. They were used by God in a mighty way. Could this joy and filling with power have been experienced by those potential followers? What did their excuses cost them?
Jesus, what great adventure are you inviting me on? I don’t want to miss it! When excuses begin to creep into my thinking, help me to remember the joy that awaits when I unreservedly obey.
“Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:2
Jesus, for the joy set before me, I will take up my cross, deny myself, and follow you!