Sunday 26 June 2016

Bible Book:

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’” (v. 62)

Luke 9:51-62 Sunday 26 June 2016

Psalm: Psalm16


This passage comes at the end of along chapter. In the first few verses of the chapter Jesus sent outthe twelve disciples (Luke9:1-6). Herod, the ruler of Palestine, was getting ratherworried about all the things Jesus was doing and saying. It was hewho had beheaded John the Baptiser because he had challengedHerod's immoral behaviour (Luke9:7-9).

This is followed by the account of thefeeding of the 5,000 (Luke9:10-17). Verses 18-27 deal with the encounter betweenJesus and his disciples in which the question of Jesus' identitywas discussed and Peter said "You are the Messiah of God" (v. 20).This is followed by one of several references by Jesus in Luke'sGospel, to the fact that he will suffer and die and be raised onthe third day. This incident is followed by the Transfiguration (Luke9:28-36) and the healing of a boy who was suffering fromconvulsions (Luke 9:37-43).

Jesus then makes a further referenceto the fact that he will be handed over (verse 44). And in theverses immediately preceding the today's passage, Jesus rebuked hisdisciples for their argument about who was the greatest (Luke9:46-48).

Verses 51-62 mark a turning point inthe Gospel: Jesus set his face to Jerusalem, the place where hewould be crucified. Jerusalem is important for Luke. For not onlywould it the place of crucifixion; it would also be the place ofresurrection and ascension: the climax of the Gospel. Once he hadset his face to Jerusalem, he did not look back. The Samaritansreferred to in verses 52-53 were enemies of the Jews.

The remaining verses deal with themeaning of discipleship, ie following Jesus without excuse. Theexample of burying the father may be harsh (verse 59); Jesus wouldhave been aware of the obligations of children to their parentsregarding burial, but this man was making an excuse. The image ofthe plough means that when one is ploughing a field, you must lookahead; if you look back, the furrow will not be straight. Jesus,having set his face to Jerusalem, had put his hand to the plough,as it were. If he had looked back, he would not have fulfilled hismission.

Applying this in today's life, thepast is important but we cannot cling to it. Instead, we must lookahead. The Church cannot throw out all tradition at once, but itmust look forward; setting its face resolutely towards the goalwhich is to proclaim the good news of the gospel in a world wherejournalists and the media seem to specialise in proclaiming onlythe bad news. And this requires perseverance.

To Ponder

  • How can the Church strike a balance between building on thepast without only looking back?
  • How can followers of Christ, do the same: in their work andtheir lives as disciples?

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