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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#1017. Keep focused and don’t look back from following Jesus (22/3/24)

This week in our Come to Jesus Daily Devotionals, we continue in the gospel of Luke. In Luke 9:51-62 we see that we are called to model our lives on the costly obedience that Jesus showed to His Father. Today, we see that our obedience requires a radical leaving of the old and focusing on the new life we have in Christ. 

‘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.” (Luke 9:61-62) 

Lesson: To be a disciple requires that we leave our old lives and live a new life as Jesus’ disciples. So don’t look back or go back, but keep looking ahead to where Jesus is leading. 


You can listen to this devotional below (It’s also available on Spotify on the Community Church Putney podcast) 



As in the previous incident as the man used the burial of a family member as an excuse for not following Jesus, so this person has, what seems to be, a perfectly good reason for not following Jesus at once. Surely to go and say goodbye to one’s family is perfectly reasonable and even the right thing to do! However, as with the previous episode, we must dig a bit deeper in order to understand Jesus’ strong challenge to Him. 


I believe that Jesus knew this man’s heart and that he was not really prepared to follow Him. This reasonable request was simply an excuse. This man, like the previous, was not willing to refuse Jesus and so uses what he knows to be a respectable excuse. This man is not prepared to pay the price for saying “yes” or “no” to Jesus! 

Jesus uses this analogy of the need for focus when ploughing. To be a ’successful’ disciple, like ploughing, required that one looks ahead and not backwards. It’s interesting that the words ‘looks back’ are about continually looking back - as a lifestyle - rather than a glance back. In other words, this person, under the guise of a good excuse, actually wants to go back and live his old life. He doesn’t want to leave His old life behind and follow Jesus devotedly. 


This incident is meant to remind of a moment in the lives of Elijah and Elisha the prophets. We read:


‘So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.  Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.’ (1 Kings 19:19-21) 

Here, as with this account with Jesus, Elijah is calling Elisha to be his disciple. He’s calling him to leave home and family in order to learn from him and become a prophet like him. Elisha, returns to say goodbye to his family, however, he also does something very radical - ‘He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.’ Unlike the man in today’s narrative, Elisha returns home in order to say “goodbye”. He is radical in His desire to be a disciple. 


Response

To be a disciple requires that we leave our old lives and live a new life as Jesus’ disciples. So don’t look back or go back, but keep looking ahead to where Jesus is leading. Like Elisha, have we taken our, ‘yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. [and] burned the ploughing equipment


 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Please ensure that the members of your group are aware and familiar with using the daily devotionals which is accessed in Church News or the Teaching button on the website. 


2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you? 


3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.


4. Study and pray together

Our message from our series in Luke on Sunday was entitled, The cost of following Jesus (Luke 9:51-62). In this section, Jesus sets the perfect example of carrying His cross and suffering, and then calling His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him, even when obedience is costly. 


Please read Luke 9:51-62, and discuss: 

  • Did God speak to you about anything specifically from Sunday’s message?

  • How do verses 51-56 teach about Jesus’ suffering?

  • Read verses 57-61 and discuss: What are the various ways in which following Jesus may be costly? And, secondly, what experiences do you have of carrying your cross for Jesus? 

  • What is the principle and application taught in verse 62?

  • SIV - How might seeking to share our story and the message of Jesus be costly to us?

  • SIV - Why will living a wholehearted life for Christ, as outlined in this text, make us effective as witnesses to the gospel? 

  • SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ recently?

  • Let’s pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV; and pray for anything else that’s come out of our time in God’s Word.

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