Faithlife Sermons

Three Examples of Bad Priorities

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Introduction

The Bible is the Word of God and has all authority over us, teaches us righteousness.
What it claims is absolutely true, or it is inconsistent with God’s nature.
It does not hide from us the struggles and realities of being a disciple of Jesus.
- Remember what Jesus said.
We often forget that Jesus' presence didn't transform the people or his disciples into heavenly minded, thoughtful individuals. Instead, it brought God to live among men with all of our sin, selfishness, and doubt. For all of their recent failures, they are still what we might call the best of the lot. For a frame of reference, we should note Jesus explanation of "those who fell among thorns" in the Parable of the Sower (see 8:14). Salvation does not transfer us out of the world. We exist as foreigners traveling in a strange land, but our maturity and sanctification does not come without scandal, trouble, difficulty, or distraction.
We don't have to be perfect to grow and become the knowledgeable, faithful people God saved us to be. But, we will never become the people that he saved us to be if we lack proper perspective on Jesus person, do not make Him our highest priority, and fail to focus our attention on purposeful pursuit of Jesus.
We don't have to be perfect to grow and become the knowledgeable, faithful people God saved us to be. But, we will never become the people that he saved us to be if we lack proper perspective on Jesus person, do not make Him our highest priority, and fail to focus our attention on purposeful pursuit of Jesus.
We often forget that Jesus' presence didn't transform the people or his disciples into heavenly minded, thoughtful individuals. Instead, it brought God to live among men with all of our sin, selfishness, and doubt. For all of their recent failures, they are still what we might call the best of the lot. For a frame of reference, we should note Jesus explanation of "those who fell among thorns" in the Parable of the Sower (see 8:14). Salvation does not transfer us out of the world. We exist as foreigners traveling in a strange land, but our maturity and sanctification does not come without scandal, trouble, difficulty, or distraction.
For all of their problems, Jesus’ apostles remained the “creme de la creme.”
Today we will see three reasons why true discipleship can go wrong. All three have to do with trying to follow Jesus but having the wrong priorities.

Priority of Person

57 ⸂Καὶ πορευομένων⸃ αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ εἶπέν τις πρὸς αὐτόν·* ἀκολουθήσω σοι ὅπου ἐὰν ⸀ἀπέρχῃ⸆.

We must remember that Jesus has just been rejected by the Samaritans.
It is possible this individual is a Samaritan, given the language used by Luke. Jesus and his disciples are going along the road leaving the place in Samaria that had refused to welcome Jesus and those emissaries that served as his forerunners. It seems possible looking at ⸀ἀπέρχῃ that the man interprets Jesus' action as a retreat from hostile opposition.
It is possible this individual is a Samaritan, given the language used by Luke. Jesus and his disciples are going along the road leaving the place in Samaria that had refused to welcome Jesus and those emissaries that served as his forerunners. It seems possible looking at ⸀ἀπέρχῃ that the man interprets Jesus' action as a retreat from hostile opposition. Then, given that foxholes serve as places of protection and birds' nests do as well, Jesus could be telling him not just that he doesn't have even the basic accomodations to offer him, but he also does not have any place to protect him. To follow Jesus is to be exposed to danger given that Jesus has no resting place for retreat. Could this man, in a fashion similiar to Jesus' more intimate disciples, think that following Jesus will mean getting to enjoy the "lap of luxury?" Jesus has no mansion, no home, and especially no place of refuge against those who oppose him. Are you willing to follow under those conditions?
There is no difference between this man’s assumptions and those of Jesus’ apostles who have debated who among them will be the greatest.

58 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ °ὁ Ἰησοῦς· αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις,* ὁ δὲ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ.

Jesus demonstrates that the man might have the wrong assumptions.
Then, given that foxholes serve as places of protection and birds' nests do as well, Jesus could be telling him not just that he doesn't have even the basic accommodations to offer him, but he also does not have any place to protect him. To follow Jesus is to be exposed to danger given that Jesus has no resting place for retreat. Could this man, in a fashion similar to Jesus' more intimate disciples, think that following Jesus will mean getting to enjoy the "lap of luxury?" Jesus has no mansion, no home, and especially no place of refuge against those who oppose him.
Are you willing to follow Jesus for who He is rather than for how He can improve your life in the world?

Priority of Prompt Pursuit

59 Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς ἕτερον· ἀκολούθει μοι. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· °[κύριε,] ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ⸂ἀπελθόντι πρῶτον⸃ θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου.*

The command that Jesus gives the second man, to follow him, is the same formulation used by Luke for Jesus' call of Matthew in 5:27. It also resembles the challenge issued by Jesus in 9:23. It is a command to be a constant companion and follower of Jesus who would have the benefit of getting to hear his in-depth explanations that only Jesus' most intimate followers heard.
In the case of the second would be disciple, two things seem clear: either the man's father has not yet died and he asks Jesus for time to return home to await his father's death so that he could carry out the customary funeral rites of a son. We know from 3rd century Jewish Rabbinical literature, which is accepted among scholars as an accurate witness of 1st century practices, that the death of a relative, and especially of a parent, initiated a set of strictly followed, prescribed rituals. First, there would be a period of intense mourning for seven days known as the shivah. During this time, the survivors separated from the rest of society. They did not work. Instead, they sat "at home upon low couches, heads covered, receiving the condolences of relatives and friends" (McCane, 35). Next, the family observed a 30 day period of "less severe mourning" (Shloshim), but they were not allowed to leave town, cut their hair, or attend social gatherings (ibid). Finally, they only returned to a normal life after they observed the first anniversary of their family member's death. The ending of the period of mourning was marked by the ritual of secondary burial when a son was obligated to move the gather the bones of the decayed body into an ossuary or some other receptacle and place them among the other dead relatives.
The key word here is "first." This indicates a priority.

60 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ·* ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς, σὺ δὲ ⸀ἀπελθὼν διάγγελλε τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.

Jesus either means that those who are spiritually dead, that is those who do not understand his person like this man does, should bury the dead, or he means that the dead relatives should carry out the second burial.
In the case of the second would be disciple, two things seem clear: either the man's father has not yet died and he asks Jesus for time to return home to await his father's death so that he could carry out the customary funeral rites of a son. We know from 3rd century Jewish Rabbinical literature, which is accepted among scholars as an accurate witness of 1st century practices, that the death of a relative, and especially of a parent, initiated a set of strictly followed, presribed rituals. First, there would be a period of intense mourning for seven days known as the shivah. During this time, the survivors separated from the rest of society. They did not work. Instead, they sat "at home upon low couches, heads covered, receiving the condolences of relatives and friends" (McCane, 35). Next, the family observed a 30 day period of "less severe mourning" (Shloshim), but they were not allowed to leave town, cut their hair, or attend social gatherings (ibid). Finally, they only returned to a normal life after they observed the first anniversary of their family member's death. The ending of the period of mourning was marked by the ritual of secondary burial when a son was obligated to move the gather the bones of the decayed body into an ossuary or some other receptacle and place them among the other dead relatives.
The man assumes he has plenty of time, and that life will continue as normal. He will be free to follow Jesus. He could be referring to eleven months or a few weeks.
60 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ·* ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς, σὺ δὲ ⸀ἀπελθὼν διάγγελλε τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.
The command that Jesus gives the second man, to follow him, is the same formulation used by Luke for Jesus' call of Matthew in 5:27. It also resembles the challenge issued by Jesus in 9:23. It is a command to be a constant companion and follower of Jesus who would have the benefit of getting to hear his in-depth explanations that only Jesus' most intimate followers heard.
In the case of the second would be disciple, two things seem clear: either the man's father has not yet died and he asks Jesus for time to return home to await his father's death so that he could carry out the customary funeral rites of a son. We know from 3rd century Jewish Rabbinical literature, which is accepted among scholars as an accurate witness of 1st century practices, that the death of a relative, and especially of a parent, initiated a set of strictly followed, presribed rituals. First, there would be a period of intense mourning for seven days known as the shivah. During this time, the survivors separated from the rest of society. They did not work. Instead, they sat "at home upon low couches, heads covered, receiving the condolences of relatives and friends" (McCane, 35). Next, the family observed a 30 day period of "less severe mourning" (Shloshim), but they were not allowed to leave town, cut their hair, or attend social gatherings (ibid). Finally, they only returned to a normal life after they observed the first anniversary of their family member's death. The ending of the period of mourning was marked by the ritual of secondary burial when a son was obligated to move the gather the bones of the decayed body into an ossuary or some other receptacle and place them among the other dead relatives.
The key word here is "first." This indicates a priority.
Jesus does not have time. He is going to die, and He is here only for a limited time.
Thus, proclaiming the the Kingdom of God, note the next chapter, is of higher priority than the ritual of secondary burial.
The key word here is "first." This indicates a priority.

Priority of Purpose

*61 Εἶπεν δὲ καὶ ἕτερος· ἀκολουθήσω σοι, κύριε· πρῶτον δὲ ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου.*

33.23 ἀποτάσσομαι a: to employ formalized expressions appropriate to leaving or saying farewell to someone, possibly involving the communication of final arrangements for leaving—‘to say goodbye.’ πρῶτον δὲ ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου ‘first let me go and say goodbye to my family’ .
33.23 ἀποτάσσομαιa: to employ formalized expressions appropriate to leaving or saying farewell to someone, possibly involving the communication of final arrangements for leaving—‘to say goodbye.’ πρῶτον δὲ ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου ‘first let me go and say goodbye to my family’ .
This word occurs 6 times in the NT, and in 5 of them, it means to “say goodbye.”
Notice that he also uses the key word, “first.” In other words, unlike the apostles in ch. 5, this man’s family remained his priority.

62 εἶπεν δὲ* ⸂[πρὸς αὐτὸν] ὁ Ἰησοῦς⸃· οὐδεὶς ⸄ἐπιβαλὼν τὴν χεῖρα ἐπʼ ἄροτρον καὶ βλέπων εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω⸅ εὔθετός ἐστιν ⸂1τῇ βασιλείᾳ⸃ τοῦ θεοῦ.*

Jesus uses a figure of speech that, by all accounts, appears to suggest that a man who does not focus his eyes forward, hence he puts his hand to the plow and then looks behind rather than to where he is going, is not suitable or useful for the Kingdom of Heaven. Salvation may be less in view here than usefulness for service.
Jesus uses a figure of speech that, by all accounts, appears to suggest that a man who does not focus his eyes forward, hence he puts his hand to the plow and then looks behind rather than to where he is going, is not suitable or useful for the Kingdom of Heaven. Salvation may be less in view here than usefulness for service.
εὔθετοςa, ον: pertaining to being fitting or appropriate, with the probable implication of usable—‘fit, suitable, usable.’
εὔθετοςa, ον: pertaining to being fitting or appropriate, with the probable implication of usable—‘fit, suitable, usable.’
What does Jesus want? He wants all of us.
Think about . We crucify ourselves daily, take up our crosses, and follow him.
There is no room for your old life and a new life that is defined by Christ. Not, if we are to be useful in the service of Christ.

Conclusion

If you were honest with God and yourself, is being a disciple of Jesus your first priority? (Is it being a husband, wife, father or mother? Is it being a good employee or breadwinner? If you are young, is it being a good student, getting good grades, keeping Mom and Dad happy? Perhaps for some you occupy your mind with finding friends, finding someone with whom to share your life, or figuring out what to do with your life that gives it meaning and purpose.)
How would your spiritual life be different if you had more time?
How much more time do you need before you could truly make Jesus your first priority?
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