It’s almost game time, for Jesus, as he is very near to kicking off, the redemption of man. Jesus is nearing the end of His earthly ministry. If he is able to do the will of the father it will mean that all of humanity will have a chance for victory over Satan and his packers! (ha ha)
Luke 9 is where we’ll be but before we get there let me give you a picture of Jesus’ game face. Luke 9 tells us beginning in verse 51 that Jesus had an intensity about the work he would be doing in life, he’d be defeating death, paying for our sins so that we might live. I want you to see the focus of the God man as he traveled through a village on his way to Jerusalem. Jesus has his face set to go to Jerusalem. He sent his disciples ahead to this Samaritan village he was traveling through so they could make preparations for him to stay. Jesus was still teaching, healing, sharing telling people that the kingdom of God was near. The Bible tells us that the people did not receive him because Jesus didn’t just come with a “fluffy” message about the free gift of salvation. Jesus also came with judgment. The Samaritans and the Jews were at odds with each other partly over their respective places of worship.
Twice the text tells us that Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem”. Some of you set your face on the Packers last night, playing in your mind how things would go, the plays that would be called every detail of every situation. Some of you woke up this morning and your face was set on the Packers. Some of you have been setting your face for times like this since you can remember; this is all you’ve ever wanted to do and it’s showtime!
That’s exactly where Jesus was. He was ignoring even the opposition from the Samaritans because he had a particular bend to his strut that was headed to Jerusalem. “I am ready to ride and die so my Father’s will can be done cause His creation needs some help, I feel so helpless though in this body, it is so limiting, I need to go so the Holy Spirit can come down and be a Help to the lost.”
He was setting his face well in advance with a focus that would not be deterred by some Samaritan villagers who didn’t want to receive him. There would be nothing that would keep Him from making good on His commitment to becoming the savior of the world. Which brings us to the title of our message; Committed Non-Committals. There’s nothing worse than a committed non-committal to the Living Savior.
Today prayerfully we hope to answer; Is our commitment to following Jesus fulfilling His requirement of us as disciples? Or are we just going through the motions. Are we a student without a Master?
We’re going to look at Luke 9:57-62 as it shows us 3 kinds of people who were lacking the kind of commitment necessary to follow Jesus Christ. They tell us what commitment is not and in turn tell us what a committed believer should look like.
There are three men in our passage that encounter Jesus on His way to Jerusalem that give us a guideline, a principle for the kind of commitment it takes to be a follower of Jesus Christ. You may find, after God reveals His truth to you, that your commitment isn’t up to snuff. Please before we read ponder this statement;
A follower of Jesus removes the conditions of his commitment ignores the distractions and doesn’t look back.
The first man had a conditional commitment. He was willing to follow Jesus as long as it meant there was something in it for him. Did he know that he wanted to follow a servant king? Did this man know that Jesus was headed to a cross to die on that cross so that we might live? What kind of a God did he want Jesus to be I wonder? Aren’t we much like this man who said, “...I will follow you wherever...” Does our wherever mean the same as Jesus’ wherever? The Jesus I read about in the Bible was born in a manger and was rarely in one place long enough to settle down. We would like to know that God is going to bless us with prosperity, health, wealth and favor. From tragic loss and from criminal victimization. I hate to let you down if that’s your idea of the return on your commitment, but there’s no guarantees of that with God. We may have to give up some of the luxuries of life in order to commit unconditionally to following Christ. And that’s the problem right there isn’t it? Jesus was saying to this man and He’s saying to us that there’s no guarantee in the contract when you live as a follower. You’ll have to walk by faith to follow me. Jesus was cutting no deals for shelter. Jesus himself didn’t have a home but he said that if we believed in him he would prepare a place for us in eternity with the father. Will you wait on the mansion or are you a conditional follower?
Will you follow if you don’t receive another blessing while on this earth? God is asking us to truly follow His Son wherever, he asks. God makes a point of this to Peter and the others at the transfiguration (v. 35) when God interrupts Peter covering him in a cloud saying, “This is my Son, My Chosen One; listen to him!
Two Engine Train
There was a large two-engine train that was crossing Canada. After it had gone some distance, one of the two engines broke down. "No problem," the engineer thought, I have two engines unlike other trains, and the train carried on at half power.
Farther on down the track, the other engine broke down, so we have both engines inoperable leaving the train at a standstill.
The engineer decided he should inform the passengers about why the train had stopped, and made the following announcement:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that both engines on this double-engine train have failed, and we will be stuck here for some time. But here’s the good news, you decided to take the train and not fly." Because if you had flown you’d be dead right now.
When you have decided that you are going to ride it out with Jesus under all conditions, though your life may have times of brokenness and may seem like things are at a standstill, be encouraged that you’ve chosen the right mode of transportation for your life.
The second man had a distracted commitment. He wanted to wait until all the distractions in life were gone before committing his life to this endeavor with Jesus. This man gets a personal invitation to be a disciple of Christ. This man wanted to get his life in order before following Jesus. That begs the question. Are we trying to get right before we make a real commitment to Christ? There’s a quote by a Richard Parker that I believe sums up people who are attempting to get things in order so they can follow Jesus.
God doesn’t call people who are qualified. He calls people who are willing, and then He qualifies them.
— Richard Parker
I believe like many expositors that the second man overheard the conversation Jesus had with the first man. He heard that there was no guarantee that he would have even a place to live. So the second man figured that he’d better get his fathers inheritance before he committed to Jesus. Jesus’ response seems a bit cold at first glance. When you factor in that Jews at that time buried their dead within 24hours you’ll realize that Jesus knew this man was a “committed non-committal.” Jesus knew this man’s father was still alive. In my neighborhood the dead still can’t bury the dead. What Jesus was telling the man was to let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead; I want you to preach the good news!
If you’re like this man you want to put off being a disciple for a period of time until you can get your affairs in order. We got excuses. Let my investments pan out first. Let me get my “grip” and my “whips” right, with my MTV crib in order, then I’ll commit.
We are full of excuses for our lack of commitment because we allow ourselves to be distracted away from Him calling us to Himself so He can qualify us. That may be it, we’re afraid of the “qualify” class knowing it may blow our cover.
“A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.”
There’s a cost to following Jesus. It’s not a cost that’ll require you to write a check. Rather it’s a cost that may require you to forgo receiving a check. You can’t fully commit until you remove from the equation what you might attain or what you might miss, if you commit. God wants you souled out for Him, no excuses no hold outs.
So we see that Christians are following Jesus with conditional commitments and distracted commitments.
The third man has a partial commitment. A first glance this mans request seems reasonable. He’s seems ready to go he just wants to say his goodbye’s to his family prior to departing. (read v.61) In the NT days if you were going on a long journey there were no short goodbyes they would throw a party and those parties could last for days. There were no quick goodbyes.
Jesus knows that our family’s, friend’s & acquaintances can have us look back and re-think our commitment to Him. Jesus was not objecting to a goodbye kiss. He’s talking about you as a potential disciple thinking twice about following Jesus.
Remember Lots wife as they fled Sodom after the Angels warned them the city would be destroyed? What did his wife do? She looked back, and when she looked back she turned into a pillar of salt.
We are looking back when we fail to make good on our commitment to follow Jesus. What did she look back for? Was she looking back thinking, “I left my bank back there with all of our money.” “The salon that did my hair and nails were back there where am I gonna find another like that?”
We look back because we are conditioned and distracted not committed to the one who saved us from our sinful selves. She left Sodom but Sodom hadn’t left her, God stopped her right on the spot and judged her unfit (v.26).
What would be your judgment? Have you been looking back, talking back, sleeping back, keeping a place back in your Sodom? If we’re not committed to Jesus, we may be headed back to Sodom! Grow in Him, not away from Him and into the world!
To people who are fully committed to Christ, giving up on the things of the world that are pleasurable doesn’t seem practical. Jesus isn’t asking us to make a practical decision. He’s asking us to make a decision on faith. It may not make sense to the people who love you. So if you go back to get their counsel on your new commitment you may never return.
My momma would say something like, “...boy you’re doing what?” “Going with some man you barely know who’s headed to a cross to die so you can live!”
When we partially commit to him we leave an out to return back to the world of practicality. You were created to be a follower of the risen savior. There is nothing practical about fulfilling the purposes of an unknown unchangeable omnipresent omniscient God.
Be a Rubber Band; Stretch
Have you ever had any deep thoughts about rubber bands? I have. In fact, I wanted to get one of those great big rubber bands and bring up here.
Now, before you think I have lost my mind, let me explain what I mean. A rubber band is made for only one purpose. That purpose is to be stretched so it can hold something together. Now, if it is not stretched, it is not fulfilling its purpose at all, is it?
Here’s What I Want You to Know;
Christians are called to be much like rubber bands. We were put on this earth to be doers of Gods word. To do that, we must stretch ourselves out of our everlasting comfort zones so that we can be effective in somebody’s life or death decision. One of the hardest things for us to do, is to get out of our comfort zones, and be effective for God.
Here’s What I Want you to Do;
Get your Jesus game face on, get committed stay committed and grow He wants to use you to literally take the sting out of death.
Serve your purpose. Everyone knows exactly what rubber bands were made for. They need to know, by how you live, what you were made for. You were made to be stretched often times beyond foreseeable capabilities. Believers that are susceptible to breaking haven’t fully committed and have become dried up useless in God’s kingdom.
When you get busy at committing, you’re going to be stretched but you become stronger because you’re exercising the very purpose for which you were made. God knows exactly what you were made for; to serve him and His purpose.
Remove the conditions of your commitment ignore the distractions and don’t look back! My prayer is that you would re-commit on His terms today rather than allowing Jesus to pass thru the “village of your life” without being received.