“Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matt. 4:19 NKJV
In Luke 9:57-62 we have studied three examples of conflicting commitments. Each one of these three men’s commitment to Jesus is nullified or minimized by some other commitment. Each one professes a commitment to “follow Jesus,” but only in a partial or restricted way.
Please note that every single excuse for not fully following Jesus in this passage is related to the home or to the family. I think that is significant. The first man says, “I will follow you wherever you go,” and Jesus says, “Following Me means having no place to call home.”
“Oh,” the first man seems to say in response, “well that’s a different matter.” The second man says, “I will follow you, but first I have an obligation at home. I must first bury my father before I can follow You. My family must come first.” Jesus says, “No, I must come first, and the preaching of the gospel must take priority over burying the dead.” The man seems to respond, “Oh, well that’s a different matter.”
The third one says, “Jesus, I most certainly am going to follow You, but the least I can do for my family is to go say good-bye to them.” The Lord seems to respond, “It’s them or Me.” Jesus says in response to all three, “You must choose Me, or them, but I will not be followed by half-hearted disciples.”
We see then that in all of these cases there is nothing basically wrong with what these people propose. There is nothing wrong with having a commitment to one’s family; there is nothing wrong with having a home; there is nothing wrong with carrying out your responsibilities to your father; there is nothing wrong with saying good-bye—unless these reasons are what keep you from wholeheartedly following Jesus.
Ultimately, Jesus is not talking about whether or not one ought to have a home. He is not talking about whether or not one ought to take care of the funeral arrangements for his father. He is not talking about whether or not one ought to go back and say good-bye to his family.
Jesus is talking about having the right priorities. Jesus is saying that those who would be His disciples – those who would follow Him – must be those who put Him first, above all things, including one’s family. We demonstrate our love for God, most often, by loving our fellow men.
But we must never love men above God. We demonstrate our love for God, most often, when we love our family. But we must never put family above God.
“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments…..” Deut. 7:9 NKJV