He said to another man, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Imagine that you have been made the general manager of your company's new branch. The good news is, you need to hire 70 workers with appropriate qualifications for each available position. The bad news? You've received 1,000 applications through which you must read and sort, and contact prospective candidates to set up interviews all in the span of one week! How are you going to accomplish this gargantuan feat? My guess is that you will choose particular key words or phrases in a candidate's resume, the lack of which would send up a red flag, and hastily move on to the next and the next and the next.
In the passage above, Jesus is the general manager and He is hiring. He is preparing to send 70 qualified followers into the towns and countryside to proclaim the good news of God's kingdom. The need is urgent and time is of the essence. Taken out of context, Jesus' rebuke of this man sounds harsh, callous and completely uncharacteristic of the Lord of Love. It is, however, the ultimate litmus test for one who has hesitated when Jesus says, "Follow me." He understands that this man, like so many of us, are enamored with the new, yet cling to the old, to the past, with much more tenacity than is healthy for us, and it prevents us from moving forward with our lives as God wants us to.
When we contrast the response of this man to Jesus with those of James, John (Mark 1:19-20) and Levi (Luke 5:27-28), his excuse seems out of place in the presence of the Master. Even so, in Jesus' command to him to "go and proclaim the kingdom of God", I think he was hired. How about you? Have you placed your application with the Lord? Have you been hired? If so, then rest assured that you hold the grandest job in all of creation!
Psalms 89:1-18; 89:19-52
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