As they were walking along someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you no matter where you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head.” He said to another person, “Come, be my disciple.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” Jesus replied, “Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead. Your duty is to go and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62
One Sunday morning with our 12th grade Sunday School class, the topic was following Christ and was based on John 1 (the calling of Phillip and Nathaniel) and Luke 9 (Jesus letting his potential followers know that a hard path awaited them rather than one paved by their own priorities). I explained that the tools for agriculture in that day were mule and plow, not machinery. The question then posed was, “If you were plowing, why couldn’t you turn your head to see where you had been or wanted to go?”
“Crooked rows,” one student answered immediately. “You’d get crooked rows when you looked back.”
Wow. I grew up on a farm and a row was that wasn’t straight wasn’t right. But in Christ’s meaning, the issue wasn’t pride but priority. Same with the follower who presumed four-star accommodations along the way or the one with a funeral to attend…Jesus was letting us know that the Kingdom will not be built according to our priorities but His.
Jesus didn’t want “crooked rows” in His Kingdom. He wanted his plowers to plow for all they were worth…not to be distracted by “what might have been” had they stayed home. Following Him meant obedience and dedication, saying a firm “no” to competing interests.
How often do we look back from the plow? I think that is why there are so many miserable Christians who feel they missed something (a verse or prayer) that would cure their pain or feel that God has led them on a wild goose chase after the abundant life He promised but is always just out of reach.
“Crooked rows” prevail in the landscape of my ministry…but Abba is more interested in my learning how to keep my eye on the prize than re-doing the past.