READ Luke 9:51. Everything is ready. You are committed. No matter your fear or enthusiasm, there comes a point when you are going forward with Jesus. For the disciples, he is going to Jerusalem. “Resolutely” is the word used. As in New Years Resolution: “I resolve to go on a diet.” For us New Year’s resolutions have become a joke, but this is Jesus: can you imagine Him changing his mind? Not a chance. Jesus is resolved. You are invited to go forward with him all the way to Jersualem/the cross.
- Jesus takes his disciples behind the curtains ~ the crowds never knew a miracle took place as they ate loaves and fish that started with a few but never ran out. The disciples went behind the scenes to witness the miracle. You have an open invitation to deeper than the crowds.
- Peter speaks for all of us when he answers Jesus question about who he is by declaring Jesus is the Christ. We need to make that same declaration. It is not an easy calling, but it means he will suffer and die; all those who follow him must also pick up their cross.
- The disciples go to a mountain where the divine nature of Jesus is revealed as his appearance is changed. The real challenge is for us to be changed in response to Jesus.
- Down the mountain the disciples are faced with a real world situation. Living your faith in the real world is the challenge.
- Now that the disciples/we have wrestled with the nature and character of Jesus, we are confronted with who we are in response. The disciples fought among themselves about status, “who is the greatest.” Jesus once again, in his wonderfully patient way, shows them the only way to go forward with him is to be more like a child, humility.
Four responses to Jesus’ invitation to follow him unfold in today’s verses. Most sermons focus on the need to not make excuses to follow Jesus. That makes sense. Here’s the last one: READ Luke 9:61-62. I have a different way of saying it. Jesus resolves to go to Jerusalem. He meets people ready to get on the roller coaster. Each person has a different personality. Jesus says, “whether you are reluctant, enthusiastic, fearful ~ love to have you follow me.”
It is fun to study personalities…. When our children were young Sally found a book about personality types. The characters were the take charge Lion, the friendly Golden Retriever, the detailed oriented Beaver and the fun loving Otter. The Lion, Golden Retriever, Beaver and Otter became part of our family language as we would see the personalities come out… These verses describe personality types that meet Jesus. Look at the personalities of our elders! [I mean this in love].
- Jim is a good natured bull dozer that is wired to just keep moving forward.
- Larry is the brake man that looks for obstacles to make sure we chart the right course.
- Steve constantly asks good questions, wanting us to think things through completely and rightly.
- Morgan’s personality is black and white, just get going.
- My contribution is to listen to everyone, take the puzzle pieces before us, and put it all together.
- Connie’s gift is to evaluate the plans to make sure no piece is missing, everyone is heard.
The roller coaster is about to move. Once the roller coaster starts moving you are committed. Which of these folks do you most identity?
James and John come first. They are like hammers! READ Luke 9:52-56. “Boom” they say, “only brave fearless committed followers are permitted on this ride to Jerusalem so let’s destroy anyone that doesn’t agree with us.” “Welcome to the roller coaster,” Jesus says, “but you don’t get to decide who gets to go. Enjoy the ride James and John Hammer, I love your fearless bravery, I can use you, but I’m going to give others a chance to follow me too.”
Next in line is an enthusiastic disciple that is excited about the thrill of the ride, the adventure, the joy, the wind in his hair. I love enthusiastic Christians that are optimistic and full of joy and excited about being alive. But the danger is that they sometimes burn-out. Jesus addresses that problem. READ Luke 9:57-58.
“Love your enthusiasm” Jesus says. “I so much appreciate your unconditional commitment, your absolute conviction that you will follow me. I can use people that throw aside caution and just jump into the world with energy. A word of warning, though, once you get on this ride you cannot get off in the middle. There will be times when you enthusiasm will be tested, you will get tired with no place to lay down your head and stretched to the limit. Welcome to the ride my enthusiastic follower.”
Next in line is a reluctant disciple. READ Luke 9:59-60. Jesus invites this man to join the trip to Jerusalem. Many people are hesitant; they need an invitation. I can identify most with this disciple. A reluctance, hesitancy. I need permission. I want to see others do things before I do them. I finally got a smart phone this week now that I have people around me that can walk me through every step. I am hesitant. I have to be convinced it will be ok, and that I am valuable, that I have something to contribute. That’s my nature. The good news is that the Lord Jesus Christ created me with a basic personality and I do not need to change that part of me. Neither do you. Jesus put brakes on the hammer disciple, warned the enthusiastic disciple that the journey is long and there will be times his energy will be stretched to the limit, and now for the reluctant disciple he has to assure him the risk is worth it….
Jesus’ words to the reluctant disciple sound harsh: “Let the dead bury their own dead…” Harsh? Yes. But he is talking to a reluctant disciple, somebody whose personality will always hold back. Somebody like me can go a lifetime without ever taking the risk of getting on a roller coaster, missing out on the thrill of following Jesus. We reluctant people need encouragement. Jesus is not saying don’t go to funerals ~ stories are told of him going to funerals and taking care of business. What Jesus is saying ~ “you can always find other things to do, but there comes a time to throw caution to the wind and put your whole heart into following me.”
Next in line: a divided disciple. The person who says, “I want to take the roller coaster, I really do, but I don’t have time.” PRIORITIZE is Jesus answer. READ Luke 9:61-62. It’s as if the man is saying, “I will follow you, Lord; but first….” This is common. Look at these two simple words side by side: “Lord, but.”//// This is a contradiction.//// If he’s the Lord of your life, then don’t say “but” to him. If you are a scattered person by nature that can’t figure out how to get anything done in your day, get rid of the word “but”.
The divided follower is like a weekend warrior for Christ. He’s ready to serve the Lord but wants to tie up loose ends first. The request seems reasonable. All the divided disciple wants is to say goodbye to his parents, his friends. So why can’t he go home and say goodbye? The problem is that there will always be loose ends! How many couples plan a long trip ~ and the tension when one wants to throw a few things in the suitcase and go…the other overthinks the packing process and starts two weeks early. The answer is a balance. They need each other.
Saying goodbye is not wrong in itself. Jesus is talking to the person who doesn’t know how to prioritize, the person who is easily distracted. What’s wrong with going home to say good-by before he goes off to Jerusalem with Jesus? All car salesmen know the answer to that question./// If a potential buyer says, “I’m going to go home and talk it over with my wife,” the chances are he’ll never be seen again. Jesus knows a divided man is easily distracted.
Jesus answer is to be focused, once you put your hand to the plow, don’t look back. The saying about the plow applies to all followers of Jesus, but it is especially needed for the person who gets sidetracked easily. Plowing takes effort and concentration to keep the plow moving in a straight line. If you look to the left, the mule will turn to the left. Look to the right and the mule will wander to the right. If you look back, the mule may soon be plowing in circles! If you’re going to plow for Jesus, you can’t look back. Keep your eyes focused straight ahead.
Going forward with Jesus is the greatest decision you will ever make. The Lord Jesus Christ accepts people of all personalities.
- If you are like a hammer he will be patient with you as you learn to love others with a spirit of gentleness.
- If you have the enthusiasm of a 100 yard dash runner understand following Jesus is more like a marathon and you will get tired but you can make it.
- If you are a reluctant soul who naturally holds back taking the risk of a full commitment to Christ this is your chance to be front and center of the most amazing opportunity of all time. “Go and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom” Jesus says to the reluctant disciple. Be a part of something great.
- If you are divided learn to prioritize and stay focused, like the man on a plow that keeps the distant point in sight so the row is straight.