Excuses, Excuses

Excuses, Excuses
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
February 7th, 2016
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Excuses, Excuses...
At some point in a professional football player’s life, they decide they wanted to play football for the rest of their lives.  And so they commit to doing whatever it takes to play the game.

At each level of the game, they listen to their coaches and are assigned positions.  From there, they commit to practicing and playing that position the best they can.  And everything they do revolves around football.

Can you imagine what would have happened to their career if at some point they had looked at one of their coaches and told them. I can’t wait to play football, but first let me do something else first.  Then I’ll come play for you.  Chances are, they would never play again.

This situation is very similar to what happens in our text today.  God has a call for each one of our lives, the question is:

Do we answer that call, or are we giving God excuses? 

Let’s look at our text and find out what to be on the lookout for in our own lives.

Luke 9:57-62
57 As they were traveling on the road someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go!”
58 Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” 
59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”
“Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.”
60 But He told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.”
61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.”
62 But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Now this scripture doesn’t start out with someone giving excuses, instead it begins with someone who is eager and willing to follow Jesus.  He comes to Jesus and says, “I will follow You wherever You go!”

And I think we can identify with this young man.  There is a good chance that all of us at some point in our lives, have been totally excited about Jesus.  We are motivated, we are pumped and we are ready to do whatever He wants us to do.

But listen to how Jesus responds to this young man in vs. 57. “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” 

When I read this I hear two things.

First, Jesus is saying that it’s not easy to follow Him.

And second, I think Jesus is saying that we must understand our mission field is not in our home.

I think most of us know that following Jesus is not always easy, so I want to focus on this second part for just a second.

Here is the thing, I doubt any of you really think that your mission field is literally in your own home.  But "home" can mean different things to us.  

For some of us, this verse will literally mean that we need to get out of our house, and start talking people.  We cannot spread the good news if we hide in our homes.

For others, our "home" may mean our comfort zone.  You don’t mind moving wherever God calls you, as long as He doesn’t ask you to work with kids or visit sick people in the hospital or volunteer at church.
What Jesus is saying is that our mission field is going to take us places and challenge us to go where we haven’t gone before.  That means we cannot remain in our home or our comfort zones AND follow Jesus at the same time.

So many people want to follow Jesus, from their comfortable couch but are not willing to do anything more than just write a check, or pray for those doing the heavy lifting.  But if we truly want to follow Jesus we will have to get up and get out.

Now, to be clear, Jesus is not rejecting this person but is simply being clear about the cost of following Him.

Next let’s look at how people respond when He does give them a call on their life.

In verse 59
59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”
“Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.”
60 But He told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.”

At first glance this may seem a bit cold and heartless, but here is the thing: It is not likely that this man’s father had just died.  If his father had just died, this man wouldn’t have been there with Jesus in the first  place, instead he would have been with family mourning.

So, more than likely, this man’s father was probably just nearing the end of his life and, essentially what this man is saying to Jesus is “My father is getting old and only has a few years left, let me spend that time with him and then…I will follow you”

Now this particular excuse can take many forms in our lives. Some of us might use this excuse almost verbatim…”I will be happy to follow You, but first, let me spend the last few years with my aging parents.”

Or this Excuse might sound like this, “I will be happy to follow you, but first, let me get my kids out of the house.  Then I will have time to serve you.”

As a side note, many parents will consider raising their kids as Jesus’ call on their life.  But typically speaking it is not.  To raise your kids up in a Christian household is a command (we should do that regardless of our call) but it is not your call.  When we try to make it our call, we are trying to make our call be in our home.  And Jesus tells us just a few verses earlier, that our call is not at home.

Or this excuse might sound like this…

“I will follow you… I want to follow you…but first, I just gotta get a few things in my life in order. Life is just too messy, too hectic to follow you. But as soon as it calms down…I’m am on it…”

Here is Jesus’ response to these excuses…

“Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.”

Do you know what happens if we wait for a dead person to bury a dead person, eventually, there will be 3 dead people waiting to be buried.

If you are waiting on something to get finished first, before you answer God’s call, then chances are high that you will be waiting all your life, and will never answer Jesus’ call.  Because when that one thing gets done, there will be something else waiting to take its place.

The second excuse is found in vs.61

Another also said… “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.”

At first glance, this request seems innocent enough. When we play this out in our minds, it probably looks something like this…The guy runs home, packs a bag, has one last nice dinner with his family, says goodbye and is waiting for Jesus at the bus stop first thing in the morning.

But I don’t think this is the heart of this excuse…Here is what I do think is the heart of this excuse. I think he is saying, “Jesus, I will follow you, just let me go hang out with my buddies (my old sinful crowd) just one more time before I completely commit to you…Let me just go back and hang on to my past just one more night, before I completely give it up…I’m just not quite ready to say goodbye to that life just yet.”

When we put it in this context, I believe it is easy to see how we have all said this at some point in our lives.

But this is Jesus’ response…
“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

This in and of itself doesn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense to us because, I’m not sure that there are too many of us, who have actually plowed a field with an ox and plow

But imagine for a moment, that you are driving down the road at 70 mph.  What would happen if you turned around while driving? You would veer off the road!

And so what this verse tells us is that if we cannot keep focused on Jesus and leave our old life behind…that we are not fit for the call because, when we look back to our old life we will veer off his path and we are going to plow a very crooked line.  

When we plow crooked lines, we do not clearly spread the good news, we get off track, and our message becomes very messy and confusing.  Then those on the outside looking in, will see that we still desire the old life and are not committed wholeheartedly to serving Christ.  And this message is very confusing to them.

So, what Jesus is saying is, that if you’re going to commit to following him…then commit! There is no going back one last time, there is no “let me get my life straightened out first,” there is no let me go do something else first and then I’ll follow you.  There is only, “Yes, Lord I will follow you, wherever it takes me.”

BTW - We should not, wait for our lives to get in order before we answer His call, but instead we will find order in our lives when we answer his call

My question for us today is:

Have you accepted his call on your life…Or are you giving Him Excuses?


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