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A great adventure begins when we accept Jesus as our Savior, but it doesn’t always look like we expect it to look. We see from Luke 9:57-62 that when we follow Jesus, He changes our place, our people, and our priorities.
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Good morning. My name is Blake Holmes. I have the privilege of serving on the equipping team here. I want to open us in a word of prayer. If you would, please pray with me.
Father in heaven, I want to thank you for the unique privilege it is to gather with the body of believers, a family of faith who seeks to want to know you. I thank you for today. I pray, Lord, that as many of us come in here today, we're distracted with the tasks and to-do lists of tomorrow, and many of us are burdened by the guilt and the shame and decisions we make of yesterday
I just pray that wherever we are, Lord, whether we consider ourselves fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ or are skeptical and doubtful, that, Lord, we would hear what you intend for us to hear today. I pray, Father, that it wouldn't be my words but that you would do a supernatural work through the preaching of your Word such that our hearts would connect with you, and we would hear exactly what it is you intend for us. We love you and thank you. In Christ's name, amen.
Well, you get to regularly hear from Todd and JP, two of my great and closest friends. Those guys, as much as I love them… We're pretty different. Other than the fact that I'm a meager 5‑foot‑8, and those guys are seven feet tall… There is literally a short man's podium, and then there is the Todd and JP podium. It's always my insecurity. Every time I speak, I'm like, "Hey guys, remember the short man's podium." It's very intimidating to speak when it comes up to here. That makes me feel insecure.
Another thing that makes us very different is both Todd and JP (especially Todd) are thrill‑seekers. I am a short, non-thrill-seeker. I don't love adrenaline rushes. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take my son and his Boy Scout troop to Colorado to go camping for a week, which is a little outside of my comfort zone in and of itself, but Todd heard about it, and he's like, "Hey, I want to go on that trip. I'm going to take my son. It's going to be great."
I'm thinking, "Great. I'm glad you're coming." What am I going to say? I was like, "Yeah, that's great. Why don't you come?" One of the days, we had planned to go white water rafting. When you go white water rafting, if you've ever done this before, they go through this long legalese that is just like 30 minutes of, "Hey, these are the things that could happen to you on the river."
I can sense Todd, with every risk that they talk about, of drowning, falling out of the boat, getting trapped in the water… To him, there is a growing excitement and anticipation, like it would be fun to get thrown out of the boat. I'm just sitting here looking confident with the young boys like, "Hey, that's not going to happen. We're all going to be good." I was having to kind of reassure myself. "It's all good."
They're walking through that. They're like, "Hey, if you fall in the water, it's okay. This is what you do." It's kind of like the people in the plane when you go flying. They say, "Hey, in the unfortunate chance that we lose cabin pressure, the oxygen masks are going to fall. Put it on your face and breathe normally." I'm like, "Come on, man. Who is going to breathe normally?"
In the same way, I'm like, "If I fall out of that boat in these rapids, I'm not okay. This is not good." All I want to do is just make sure that I am not in the same boat with Todd. I love him, but I don't want to be in the same boat with him. When I'm figuring out how this works, the first boat (we have several boats) is going to be the rookie guide. He's going to lead the first boat.
What they want to do is put the more veteran experienced guide on the river in the back. He's kind of the last man to be able to help. I'm like, "I'm with that guy." Todd, of course, is like, "I'm going in the front." I'm like, "Great." I'm kind of thinking when we get in, "Shouldn't we start off in water and just get used to this and float?"
No. They're like, "We're going to put in right here and hit it. At the very beginning, it's a little rough." I'm like, "I'm really not excited about this trip." The first boat goes, and I'm like, "Okay, they're doing okay. Nobody is dead." Then the next boat goes, and they're good. They're screaming. You can hear them. Then the next. I'm like, "Okay. Here we go. Here we go."
I get in the water, and I kid you not. It is less than 30 seconds. In less than 30 seconds, I am on the river. We're bouncing up and down like this. One of my friends, one of the fathers of the Scouts who is with us, is about as big as Todd. He's bigger. He goes flying out of the boat. This is a picture of it. That does not look like fun to me. It looks like fun to you. I survived.
He goes flying out of the boat, and he is in the water, and what they tell you to do is, "Don't panic. Breathe normally. Let the guide…" This is it, counterintuitive. "Let the guide take you by the life vest. He is going to plunge you into that freezing water." The theory is that you have a life vest on. "Then he is going to pop you out and put you in."
My friend who fell out panicked. He did exactly what they told him not to do. He's trying to get in the boat himself. The guide is trying to grab him. He's wrestling and fighting him. Sure enough, they let go of him. The boat goes on. I am thinking, "I want off." I see his red hat. I see this red hat going like this. I'm scared. He's going down the river.
The next boat goes, and I hear my veteran guide going, "Get him. Get him." There's a little panic in his voice. He panics. I panic. The next boat comes to him, and that guide grabs my friend. It's like King Kong just submerges him in the water. Then he flies up and falls in the boat. I was like, "Okay, okay." Now I'm like, "Now that we've done that, let's just pull over." Seriously.
I swear to you Todd was frustrated because he wasn't the one in the water. That's a fact. I'm telling Todd's stories. That night (totally another story), a moose walks into our camp. A moose walks into our camp. Have you ever seen a moose? It's huge. It's not a horse. It makes a horse look like… It's big. I'm thinking, "That's a moose." I swear I think moose are mean. I'm doing this, "That's a moose." Telling our guide, "That's a moose."
Todd is like, "I'm going to touch it." I literally have a picture of Todd kind of like walking up, thinking he can talk to the moose and all of this stuff. I promise you that is totally Todd. I'm not that way. I'm thinking all along this trip, "This isn't what I signed up for. This is exactly what Todd loves. This is not what I expected."
I am telling you that I think, if you're anything like me, if you've been walking with the Lord for a while, there have been times in your life when you've thought, "This is not what I signed up for. This is not what I expected." Perhaps you were told that when you begin a relationship with Jesus Christ, somehow, life was going to get easier. That certainly doesn't always happen.
Maybe you thought that you could easily overcome that particular sin struggle or that temptation, and you just sat there and were like, "Hey, this isn't what I expected." You thought it would unite your family if you came to faith, and you recognize that it has actually brought more tension and conflict in your family.
There are times, as you've gotten in this boat going down this river, these rapids in your relationship with Christ, that you're like, "This scares me." Today, we're going to talk about what it means to follow Jesus Christ. We're going to see where Jesus comes to some folks who say, "Hey, I want to follow you." He's going to say, "Let me be very clear about the expectations about what happens when you get in this boat. If you want to follow me, let me be clear as to what you're signing up for."
Turn to Luke 9. We're going to look at verses 57 through 62. I hope you're following along with us on the journey. This year, we're working our way through the Gospels. We just finished Luke 9 this week. On Friday, a devotional went out that I actually had the opportunity to write on the passage we're going to talk about this morning, Luke 9:57-62.
Because I'm part of the Equipping Team, my team would be frustrated if I didn't tell you. I want to encourage you to join the journey. Go to JoinTheJourney.com. Sign up, and you'll have the opportunity to read systematically through Scripture with us as a church. We have over 15,000 people reading along together throughout the week. It's really encouraging to do that as a church family.
If you've been reading along, you know in the gospel of Luke that the first question that the gospel-writer wants you to come to grips with, wants you to answer is, "Who is Jesus Christ?" You see, the four gospels are stories compiled, put together like a mosaic. You're not supposed to read one story in and of itself but all of the stories collectively together. The goal is not to be chronological; the goal is to make an argument.
The goal is to be thematic, so you look at this mosaic, this portrait, and you are able to answer the question, "Who is Jesus?" Luke is going to start off forcing you to identify and recognize who he is. You see stories where Jesus demonstrates his authority over the supernatural world. He heals a demonic man. It leaves people going, "Who is this that even the demons submit to his authority?"
Jesus demonstrates his authority over the natural world by calming a storm. He was on the river and goes, "Shh," and the thing goes still. You can imagine. Everybody is going, "Who is this man that even the wind and the waves obey him?" He demonstrates his authority to forgive sins. The religious leaders are going, "Who has the right to forgive sins but God alone? Who is this man who blasphemes?"
In chapter 9, Jesus turns to his followers. They're called disciples. He says to them (this is a turning point in the book), "Who do people say I am?" They say, "Some say Elijah, one of the prophets." He says, "Yeah, but who do you say that I am?" Peter says, "You are the Christ. You're the Son of God." It's at this point that you see a turning point in the book.
Jesus wants to make it clear, "It's not enough just to know who I am. I now want you to understand what it means to follow me. It's not enough just to profess with your mouth. It's not enough just to understand who I am. I'm going to show you what it now means to walk with me, follow me. It's not going to be easy. I'm going to set expectations for you."
It's right after this scene that Jesus says to them three times, "Let me be very clear. I have come here to give my life away. I'm going to die. Three days later, I'm going to live again." If you want to follow me, you're going to have to deny yourself. You're going to have to pick up your cross. That's what it's going to mean. You're going to die to yourself." That sets the context for our passage in Luke 9:57-62. Let me read it.
"As they were going along the road, someone said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.' To another he said, 'Follow me.' But he said, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.'
And Jesus said to him, 'Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' Yet another said, 'I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.' Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'"
See, Luke 9 begins this theme of, "What does it mean? What are the expectations? What does it mean to follow Jesus?" We're going to see based on this passage that if we want to follow Jesus, you need to be prepared because he's going to change your place (verses 57-58), he's going to change your people (verses 59-60), and he's going to change your priorities (verses 61-62). Jesus will change your place, your people, and your priorities.
1._ Jesus will change your place._ Let's look at verses 57-58. I want to read this again. "As they were going along the road, someone said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.'" Now, we don't know much about this man, do we? In the story as Matthew tells it, the only details he adds is that this man is a scribe, and he refers to Jesus as a teacher.
The reason why that probably is is that Matthew is written to the Jews, and he emphasizes Jesus' teaching. Matthew wants people to understand that Jesus is not looking for students. He is not looking to make smarter sinners. He's looking for followers, not people who just can understand with their mind but people whose hearts are completely his.
The point of all three of these stories is not really to disclose and unfold for us a lot about each individual. The emphasis is on the commands, the demands from Jesus, his words, and his response to the people. We don't know a lot about these individuals. Luke doesn't even tell us he was a scribe. The idea is that this could be anybody.
This is a guy who said, "I want to follow you." Look what Jesus says. He says, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Jesus' reply teaches us that this world is not our home. It's more than just about comfort. It does certainly imply that. Jesus is saying, "It's not going to be comfortable. It's not going to be easy." I think he's trying to say something more than that.
"If you want to follow me, you need to understand. You're about to stand out. You're about to swim upstream." This world is not our home. You know that God's design, his original plan for us… We were created in his image to live in right relationship with him and one another. That was the original plan, to have perfect fellowship with God and to be rightly related to one another, to enjoy one another.
As Genesis 1-3 tells us, we did not trust God. We did not believe he was good. We did not believe he had our best interest in mind. We did not believe he was great. We sought to be God. We rebelled against him. Because of that, sin, suffering, disease, and death entered into our world. We live now in a broken world, which we're very aware of.
Every day, we see the consequence of our choice. Here, Jesus is trying to say to this man, "Hey, if you want to follow me, follow me wherever I go, you need to understand something. It's not going to be easy." When the Bible speaks of the world, it's not often referring to the earth we know of, like in the cosmos. It is referring to man's collective beliefs, ideas, values, and behaviors that are opposed to the will of God.
If you want to follow Jesus, you need to be prepared to live as a stranger in this world. It says in 1 Peter 2:11, "Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul." Do you see what he refers to us as there? We are known as sojourners and exiles. Another translation says strangers and aliens. That's who you are. If you want to follow Jesus, you're going to be made sometimes to feel like a stranger, like an alien.
The world is going to look at you and go, "You're different. Your ideas, your beliefs, your values, your behaviors are not consistent with the rest of the world." That's why we're not to be conformed to the thinking of this world. Paul says in Romans 12 (picking up on the same idea), "Do not be conformed to this world…" What is he saying? "Do not be conformed to the ideas, beliefs, values of this world because they're opposed to the will of God."
What should you do? You should, "…be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." John says in 1 John 2:15-16, "Don't love the world. Don't love the ideas, beliefs, systems, behaviors of this world, the way of thinking of this world." Why? "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world."
Real practically, what does that look like for you and me today? In your walk with the Lord, in your relationship with the Lord, as you have sought to follow him, have you ever felt like a fish out of water? Has anybody ever looked at you and just been like, "There is something different about you. You seem to stand out"? It may look like you resolving conflict with your coworker rather than just adding to the gossip of the office.
It may be you remaining pure while dating regardless of what your friends would do. I got to go to a wedding last night of two friends who love the Lord. The pastor last night said, "Everybody needs to know that this couple is different. You need to know that under his leadership, this very moment will be the first time that he will ever have kissed his bride." I could see people in the audience look at each other like, "Who does that?" Seriously, who does that?
It may be you standing for the sanctity of life or the biblical definition of marriage despite the political views of your neighbors, the craziness that is being taught on our TVs and to our kids. It may be you sharing the gospel with your family and friends despite their ridicule when they look at you like, "Man, you're strange."
It may be you giving up your free time in order to invest in someone else's life. It may be you remaining true to your work, even though it may cost you money in that particular business deal, and your coworkers look at you like, "We're going to lose money." Here's the reality. None of us like feeling like a stranger and an alien in this world. We don't like feeling left out.
Do you know what we do? We tend to compromise what it is we say we believe. We have such a desire to fit in and be liked and be affirmed. Jesus is saying, "Hey, listen. You're going to have to die to yourself if you're going to want to follow me. It's not going to be about people's affirmation. Even the Son of Man, even God incarnate doesn't have a place to lay his head." He's a stranger in this world. He's not going to be accepted in this world. He has nowhere to lay his head.
When we compromise what we say we believe out of a need to be liked, out of a need to be approved, then we make little to no impact and confuse the watching world. They look at us, and they're like, "Hey, you're not so different. You're not such an alien. You're not such a stranger." It just contributes to the hypocrisy of the church.
I have never felt further away from home than when I was in college. I had this really unique opportunity to go and study in Europe for a little while. It was a great privilege. Part of the trip was I got to go to Paris, France. Most people are like, "Paris, France? That's wonderful." You're probably thinking Paris, France, romance, with friends. I'm all by myself.
Paris, France, for me, the non-thrill-seeker, all by myself, wasn't all that fun. I'm like, "I would love to have a friend." I'm walking around. I'm trying to figure out, "Does anybody speak English?" They're looking at me funny. I have a baseball cap on. People aren't wearing baseball caps. I think I had like Wrangler jeans on. I'm from Texas. They're like, "Wrangler jeans?" Nobody is wearing Wranglers in Paris.
My accent is different. My language is different. I don't understand the currency. I don't even know how to buy anything. I am in a foreign country. I don't know the language. I don't know the customs. Nobody is trying to help me. My internal clock is completely off, because when I want to be awake and go and do things, everybody else seems like they're going to sleep, and vice versa.
The reason why I tell you this story is because I think too many of us don't feel as foreign as we need to feel. We so easily compromise. What the Lord is saying to us is, "Hey, if you want to follow me, you need to understand that you're going to be a stranger and an alien. Internally, you're going to be operating off of a clock of another place, because this isn't your home. Don't be so desperate for the approval of others so you can fit in."
Jesus is going to change your place. He's going to reorient you. The more fully devoted you are to him and the more you walk with him, the more others are going to look at you and go, "That's strange."
2._ Jesus changes our people._ Look at this. Some of you are going to go, "This seems harsh." To another, Jesus approaches and says, "Follow me," but he says, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." It seems reasonable to me. Verse 60: "And Jesus said to him, 'Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.'"
When I read that, at first glance, I read that and am like, "Okay, that raises questions for me." The man's request seems reasonable. We don't know much about the man, like I said before. Perhaps the man's father is already dead, and he needs to go and participate in the burial. Perhaps the man's father is near death. We don't know if he's alive or if he has already passed away.
We don't know what is driving the man. Most likely, he has an inheritance coming to him, and he's thinking, "I want to go and collect what is coming to me before I saddle up and follow you." According to Jewish traditions and family obligations, he may feel an obligation to his family first and foremost. Jesus' reply strikes us a little bit as rude and unsympathetic, doesn't it?
Let me just read it to you again. He says, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead." I'm like, "Whoa." "But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." It seems harsh and unsympathetic until we understand really what Jesus is saying. In each reply, there is a sense of urgency in Jesus. He's like, "You can't waver here." There is an urgency. "You have to make a decision whether or not you're going to follow me."
What Jesus is saying here… The idea is he is speaking figuratively. He's saying to the man… He tells him a better way of understanding this is, "Let the spiritually dead bury their own physically dead." He's inviting this man into another family. He's showing this man where life is found. He's showing this man where a greater priority is, in the spiritual world. He's helping him understand, "It's not just physical death you should fear. I'm calling you into a relationship with the family of God. I'm telling you there's an even greater priority than your biological family."
He's inviting him to find life. Notice what he says. "Leave the [spiritually] dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." What is the assignment? "But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." The idea here is, "There is urgency here that you know me, that you proclaim he kingdom, that more could come to know me and become a part of the family, the kingdom of God.
It's not just physical death you need to fear. It's not the possessions that you need that you seek when your father dies. There is a greater priority. There is a family I'm calling you into, and you need to be ready to come into that family and be used to go proclaim so that other people can come into this family. You want to love your family? You want to care for your father? You want to care for your family? Know me. Be about the business of inviting your biological family into a greater family, God's family."
I want to just take the time, and I want to unpack a little bit. Throughout the book of Luke and the rest of the Gospels, Jesus is going to say some things about family that challenge our understanding, that wreck our paradigm. You have to understand that Jesus lived in a culture where family loyalty reigned supreme. One's relationship with one's family was the highest relational priority.
We come along, and we see Jesus say things, and we're going, "Whoa. What do you mean by that?" For example, in Luke 8:19-21, he says, "Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd." Understand that his biological mother and brothers are coming to him, but it's so busy that they can't get to him. People are crowding around him. He was told, "Hey, your mom and your brothers are standing outside desiring to see you."
What does Jesus say in verse 21? He says, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." In Luke 8, Jesus redefines the meaning of family. Do you see this? When we think of family, we only think in terms of biological family. Jesus is saying there is another family. He redefines family as those who do the will of God.
We come to another passage in Luke 14:26. Jesus says something that really causes us to stumble. He says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Do you struggle with that? Is Jesus really calling us to hate our biological family? Of course not.
The idea is this. "In comparison to, your relationship with me should be so great that it makes all other relationships seem secondary." A great way of understanding this how is you heard Todd explain this text in the past. It's as if my devotion to my wife, Rebecca, should be so great that every other woman, every other friend out there that I have should feel like, "His love and devotion to Rebecca is so great that it's almost like he hates other women."
Of course, I don't hate other women, but I am devoted to her. There is only one who gets that relational priority, and it's my wife. I don't treat other women the same way. Jesus is saying, "If you want to follow me, it needs to be your greatest relational priority such that your family seems secondary." Hang with me. He's even going to say in Luke 12:51-53,
"Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
What is Jesus saying right there? It seems like Jesus hates the family. Alert James Dobson, right? What Jesus is saying is, "Listen. If you want to follow me, there is inevitably going to come a time when there is going to be a conflict of interest, and you need to be prepared for that." That wasn't just true in his day. It's true in our day. Perhaps it's true of many of you.
It's certainly true of my friend Abner, who is on staff here. He is a former Muslim who came to trust in Jesus Christ. His father swore at that moment, "You are dead to me. We are no longer related to one another." He will not speak to his son because Abner has said, "Dad, I love you, but you have to understand something. I know who Jesus is. He's my greatest priority, and I will follow him." It has brought a sword to his home.
Jesus is saying, "If you want to follow me, you're going to be a part of a different family. Your family is going to change. It is not that Jesus is undermining the value of family biologically. Paul makes it clear to us in 1 Timothy, "Look, if you don't care for your own family, you've denied your faith. You're worse than an unbeliever." That's what Paul says in 1 Timothy in talking about how we should care for our biological families.
We should care about our biological families. We know that here in North Dallas. We know we should care about that. What we lack is an understanding of the church family and the priority of the church family. You have to understand that Jesus is not undermining the value of family. He's trying to restore family to what it was meant to be all along, a small collective of individuals who submit to one another, who love each other, serve one another, who grow in their faith, who serve God, who are part of a larger family, a faith community.
If you want to follow Jesus, know that you're entering into a family. Entering into this family, you must accept the Lord's offer of grace and forgiveness. You're not born into it. You're not born into this family simply because your parents went to church. You don't work your way into it. You certainly don't buy your way into it. It's not based on how much you give. It's not based on what you do or don't do. It's in whom you trust.
When you trust in Jesus Christ as your one and only Savior, when you acknowledge that this world is broken… "I'm broken. I'm not who I want to be. I'm not rightly related to God." When you receive his gift (his gift, not something you've earned), you become adopted. That's the language the Bible uses. You become adopted. You become a part of another family, a spiritual family.
God's family is made up of all types of people: young, old, white, black, tall, short, educated, uneducated, rich, poor… It doesn't matter. Everyone in the family of God is given a gift. First Peter 4:10 talks about how we are to use those gifts, employ those gifts in serving one another. Some are given the gift of serving. Some are given the gift of encouragement. Some teaching, exhortation, leadership, hospitality… The gifts go on and on and on.
Not everybody has all of the gifts, but we're part of a family, and we're to bring our gifts to serve and care for one another, not just use those gifts for ourselves and our own best interests but to serve the family of God. You've heard so many times before of the one-anothers of Scripture. Throughout the New Testament, there are over 50 of them.
We are to be devoted to one another, serve one another, be kind to one another, forgive one another, pray for one another. I could go on and on and on. We're part of a family now, a spiritual community of believers, adopted by God into his family. The reason why I spend so much time on this is I hear so many times, so many of us have this unbiblical view of the church. We have a wrong ecclesiology, study of the church, a misunderstanding of what it means to be a part of this family.
For one, the most common mistake we make is when we think of church as buildings. We think of programs. We think of physical structures. Watermark is not 7540 LBJ Freeway. If the government shut us down tomorrow and took all of our property, we are not gone. It is not a building. It is not HDTVs and large auditoriums and coffee shops and leather couches. That's not the church. The church is the people of God, the family of God. When you trust the Lord, you become a part of that family.
Secondly, people make this terrible mistake of having a privatized faith. I hear this so often, especially in North Dallas, especially with this entrepreneurial, materially wealthy, successful environment. We have a privatized faith. We focus on what we want, our needs, and we evaluate everything else with a consumer mindset. It's what our preferences are. It's what our tastes are. We don't want to be held accountable by the larger church.
We don't want to be a member. We don't want to live in community. We resist the urge of that kind of accountability. Some of us even pride ourselves on talking about a "Jesus and me" kind of faith. "I love Jesus, but I don't like the church." I hear people say that with a pride, with an arrogance, like it's super-spiritual. I'm just sitting there. I'm just going to tell you that it's an unbiblical view. From Jesus' point of view, you cannot follow him, you cannot follow Jesus if you don't want anything to do with his family. It's just inconsistent. It's a wrong thinking.
When I first started dating my wife, we started dating in college. I was pretty young. The more time I spent with her, the more serious we were getting. I was starting to understand early on, "This girl loves her family. She especially has a lot of respect for her dad. She's a daddy's girl." I knew that if I wanted to continue my relationship with Rebecca, there was going to be a day when I was going to meet her mom and dad and sister.
That day arrives. Early on in my relationship with Rebecca, I was thinking, "Hey, I think this is the one. This one is different. It's not like I'm going to meet her dad and never see him again. This is the girl I want to pursue." The day arrives. Sure enough, I'm starting to feel a little bit of the anxiety. I know how important her dad is to her and her mom and her sister.
This is the chance. I could do was hear my dad talking about, "Son, when you meet a man, you shake his hand. You look him in the eye. 'Yes, sir.'" All of these things. I'm going over it. I'm rehearsing. I have to be ready. Now, I want you to think for a moment. If the day arrives, the moment arrives… I'm about to meet Rebecca's mom and dad.
If you're married, you know the day I'm talking about. You know the anticipation. Now, how would it go over if you looked at your girlfriend or if I looked at Rebecca that day and went, "Hey Rebecca, do you know what? I've been thinking about this. I really don't care about your parents. Zero. I don't care. I don't care about your dad. I don't care what he thinks. I don't care what your mom thinks. I really have no desire to meet your sister. I really just want to spend time with you."
First, I would not be married today. Even if you're sitting there going, "Who would do that? Nobody would do that." Of course, nobody would do that. If I want to know Rebecca, if I want to spend the rest of my life with Rebecca, I have to know her family. I cannot know her apart from her family. Gang, just let me tell you something. If you want to know Jesus, if you want to follow Jesus, your view of the church has to change.
Your resistance, your resistance to community… You think that's for all of those crazy Watermark people. I've heard all of it. "Watermark is a cult. Blah, blah, blah." Trust me. I work here. I've heard. Understand that God is not just going to change your place. He's going to change your people. You're part of a family, and you're to use your gifts to further this family, to serve this family. It's not just you and Jesus. That's not the deal. He's inviting you into a family that needs to take priority in your life.
3._ Jesus changes your priorities._ Look at verses 61 and 62. "Yet another said, 'I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.' Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'" See, this third man approaches Jesus and proclaims his loyalty.
In Greek, they tell you that word order really matters, and it does. It's not really reflected in the English. I'm no Greek scholar. I certainly took some classes, which I long forgot, but you do remember this. In the Greek, he says, "First…" There is an issue of priority here. "First, there is something else I have to do before I follow you."
Again, I'm telling you there is urgency in every one of these. Jesus uses a farming metaphor to challenge the man's priorities. Like a farmer plowing his field, he must be fulling committed. It must be his first priority in order to be fit, it says, or useful to the kingdom of God. He's not to look back. He can't be divided.
"If you're going to follow me, you have to be fully committed. It has to come of primary importance to you. Nobody, when tilling the ground, when plowing the ground, is looking back. That does you no good. You cannot have a divided heart. You cannot have divided loyalties. If you want to follow me, let me just tell you something. It's going to require all of your energy, all of your attention, all of your focus. You cannot be like Lot's wife."
That was a picture of looking back. You cannot be like Israel in the wilderness, sitting there like, "Oh, if only we were in Egypt." That just leads to rebellion and death. Jesus is going, "Listen. Let me tell you something. First is not saying goodbye to your family. First is your relationship with me. You have to put your hand to the plow, and you can't look back. You have to look forward. I have to become your number one priority."
That's why Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first the kingdom of God…" What does that mean? It sounds real nebulous. It sounds real churchy. I don't like churchy language. What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God? I want to remove mystery. It doesn't mean you have to go to seminary. "What is seminary?" That's where people go to get a theological education.
It doesn't mean you quit your job and start working for a church. That's not what it means. It doesn't mean you have to sell your house and pick up your family and go to a foreign land and become a missionary. That's not what it means. It's not even about a priority in a day. It's not like, "Now I have to wake up at 5:00 and get less sleep and read my bible and all of these things I have to do." That's not what it means.
To seek first the kingdom of God means that we seek to know and honor him in everything we do. It's not a part of our lives; it's in everything we do. That's what Colossians 3 is talking about. In everything we do, we do it for the glory of God. We obey his commands. We confess our sins. We forgive each other. We give generously. We trust him with our future. We serve and become a part of this body. In everything we do…
I imagine like me, many of you have been glued to your TV over these past few weeks. Watching the Olympics has been amazing. Simone, the gymnast… I'm just watching that girl going, "Wow. What does it take to be able to do that? Who has that courage?" Did you see that picture where her feet are in the air, and her face was looking down at the balance beam? I'm thinking, "Who does that?" She made it look easy.
Did you see Katie Ledecky? Did you see that girl? Did you see those pictures? She was 11 seconds ahead of second place in swimming. That's like a Super Bowl of 50-0 in the first quarter, 11 seconds. She's not swimming against me. She's swimming against other Olympic athletes, and she made them look like they were junior high swimmers.
When you watch these Olympic athletes, it's amazing. I just sit there and go, "How in the world does somebody become so excellent at what they're doing?" Let me tell you this. It's not an hour of training in the morning. It's not that they think about it every once in a while. It's not just on Sundays. It's not just when they meet their friends at a coffee shop and talk about the Olympics.
Everything they do is contributed to and focused on winning the gold, everything. Their diet, their schedules, their routines, what they sacrifice. I remember Simone talking about, "I've never been to a high school dance. I've never even been. I've never been to a high school football game." My son heard that and went, "I'd be out."
That's what she was saying. "I had to give up a lot in order to become an Olympic athlete. I didn't just show up and win gold. My whole life was oriented around this." It was her number one priority. Paul uses that same language talking about the Olympics in a Greek context in 1 Corinthians 9.
He says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath…" One that is going to wilt. A gold medal that will be long forgotten. "…but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
Do you see what he's saying? He's looking at the same Olympic games, and he's looking at those athletes, and he's going, "This has to be my number one priority, to seek first the kingdom of God and make sure others know him and to do all I can so I am not disqualified and my preaching is not devalued."
If you want to follow Jesus, you have to understand that he's going to change your place. He's going to change your people. He's going to change your priorities. We talk often about the cost of following Christ. It struck me this week. Although we talk about the cost of following Jesus, the irony is that when we choose to follow him, we gain everything we really longed for in the first place. We gain everything we longed for in the first place.
One man said, "A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for one he has never seen, talks every day to someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right. He goes down in order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live. He forsakes in order to have. He gives away so he can keep. He sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which surpasses all knowledge."
If you want to follow Jesus, be ready. He's going to change your place. You're going to be an alien and stranger in this world. He's going to change your people, your relational priorities. It's going to be different. If you want to follow Jesus, understand that he's not just going to change your people and your place. He's going to change your priorities. The question you have to answer is, "Are you going to choose to follow him?"
Are you going to get in that boat? It's not a calm ride. I'll tell you that. When it gets rough, are you going to quit? Are you going to go, "This isn't what I signed up for. I don't like this anymore." If you don't want to follow him, I would ask you what's keeping you from following him. If you do, each of us has to ask ourselves, "What is my next step?"
If no one has ever looked at you and said, "You seem weird. There is something different about you." If that's not being said about you, you need to change your place. If you have yet to commit to the body, the family of believers… It doesn't have to be Watermark, the family, this local body of believers. It could be another one.
If you're not yet connected, if we're always chasing you down because you don't want to fill out the 4B Form because you're like, "I don't care about that. It's so legalistic. I don't want to be in a community group. I don't care about membership. It's just Jesus and me." I'm telling you, he changes your people. You have a wrong view of the church. Maybe you need to change your priorities such that everything is aligned, that when others look at you, they're like, "That's an Olympic athlete." Let's pray.
Father, thank you for the challenge that Luke 9 gives us today. I pray, Father, that you would help us to see you for who you really are. You are the Christ. Your Son is the Christ. He is the Son of God. I pray, Father, that you would help us to know your Son. By the power of your Spirit, I pray, Lord, that you would help us to follow you.
I pray, Lord, that we would acknowledge the ways in which we have fallen short, that we would receive your grace, your gift of forgiveness, that we would walk in faith. Lord, I pray that you would change our place, our people, and our priorities. We love you. In Christ's name, amen.
I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are thinking, "Blake, you don't understand. I've tried to follow him, and I've blown it. I don't know if I can be used anymore." I just want you to know that when you finish the story, the very same one who said, "You're the Christ, the Son of God," that same one later denies him three times.
After Jesus is raised, he goes and says, "Go tell Peter I'm alive." He goes to Peter specifically and says, "Peter, I'm going to use you." No matter where you've been or what you've done, you need to know that we serve a God of grace who is good, who loves you, who desires to use you, who wants to call you out of the dark, who wants you to be transparent, free from all of the junk of this world, and just available for him.
This is a place where it is safe to be real, to be honest, and to share what is really going on. If it's not a place like that, then I don't want to work here anymore. You really don't want to be a part of it. I'm calling you to be a part of the church, to be the church, to experience the grace, the forgiveness of the Lord. If you've never used your gifts, if you feel like, "I just don't even know how I can be used," we have a whole team that will help you discover your gifts so you can be deployed. You've all been given a gift to be used to serve the family.
If you're at that place where you're like, "I don't even know if I believe in the Bible or Jesus. I just have to explore this," we have a ministry called Great Questions. Every Monday night, people just come here. They come here Monday nights to just go into a room and just honestly go, "Let me tell you something. I don't believe you." We go, "Great. Let's talk about it." It's a safe place. No matter where you are, we call you. Come. Come. Listen. Know the God we serve. You guys have a great week of worship.