The Heart to Prioritize the Gospel
July 21, 2019 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Topic: Discipleship Verse: Luke 9:59–9:60
The Heart of Discipleship
“The Heart to Prioritize the Gospel”
Theme: The glory of the Redeemer is of greater value than any earthly treasure.
I. The Obligation of Discipleship – 9:59a
A. Recognize the Prerogative of Christ – “And He said to another …”
- We recognize that the agenda of God to use us for His glory is completely foreign to us – our inclination is never to serve anyone but ourselves.
- To be engaged in seeking the glory of God by following Jesus Christ is an experience that is “unnatural” and outside of anything that could be chosen by sinners.
- Hence, involvement in such a lofty and grand purpose is something that only God Himself could initiate.
- Thus, the agenda is His, not ours and He is to be seen as the designer, initiator, and enabler in who will be disciples, and what discipleship should be.
- Thus, Jesus is the One who not only is to be followed in discipleship, but chooses who He will call to follow Him – cp. John 15:16
- We saw in the previous section that people boldly profess to be willing to allow Jesus Christ to be their Master, but often completely fail to understand what that means.
- After Jesus rebuffs such an approach, He turns and focuses on another person who was part of the crowd of people who were amazed by Jesus’ power and grace.
- He likely heard the exchange between Jesus and the scribe and was caught wide-eyed when Jesus turned “… and said to another …”
- When Jesus initiates a relationship with someone, the rejection of such “drawing” grace is the most reprehensible and egregious slight that a sinner could possibly perpetrate against God – cp, Matthew 23:37-38; Romans 2:4-8; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
- Such refusal to believe in light of the initiating grace of God will result in greater culpability and wrath in judgment – cp. Luke 10:13-16.
B. Respond to the Prompting by Christ – “… follow Me.”
- Thus, when Jesus provides a clear command to “follow Me,” one ought to immediately come to attention and surrender everything to “follow” Him.,
- Again, the word that Jesus uses here for “follow” [ἀκολουθέω] – suggests to permanently accompany someone, to become a devotee to another’s mission, to enter an obedient relationship with someone who will direct you.
- The call to follow Jesus is the identical call to believe, to be saved, to be reconciled to God, to be redeemed; it is not some post-facto decision that a saved person has to make.
- The idea that a person can be saved without a willingness to submit themselves to the commands of Christ is foolhardy – anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as Savior will also believe that Jesus Christ is their Master and Lord.
- Thus, the obligation of a disciple is to do everything that He has commanded – cp. Matthew 28:20; John 14:21.
- In what ways is Jesus calling you to change your life to follow Him?
- Have you experienced the “intrusive” influence of Jesus in your life in the past? Think of a way that you were changed because of Jesus …
- What is the biggest obstacle to you allowing Jesus to dictate what you do with your life?
II. The Objection to Discipleship – 9:59b
A. The Demonstration of Angst – “But he said …”
- This man understood what Jesus was asking him to do – and he struggled with the idea of giving everything up to the mastery of Jesus.
- Interestingly, the angst that this man possessed at the command of Jesus is seen in use of the adversative “but …”
- He responded to Jesus, he didn’t merely ignore Him.
- However, his response was either deflective or defiant by means of delaying.
B. The Desire for Advantages - “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”
- The man requested the freedom to “first … go and bury my father.”
- At first impression, this request seems reasonable – in fact, it is a biblical duty for a son to tend to the needs of a parent in death.
- The expectation is so fundamental that the neglect to do so is “worse than an unbeliever” – cp. 1 Timothy 5:8
- In the Old Testament, the only people who were exempted from the responsibility to care for the funeral arrangement of a parent were the priests and those under the Nazarite vow – cp. Leviticus 21:10-11; Numbers 6:6-7
- The problem with the man’s request was that his father was not dead yet; if he were, the man wouldn’t be part of the crowd of people following Jesus down the road to Jerusalem.
- Since the Jews didn’t embalm their deceased, burial was something that happened as quickly as possible after the actual death – often the very same day as their deaths – cp. Acts 5:6, 10; and Lazarus had to have buried the same day as his death – John 11:1, 6, 17
- What he was actually telling Jesus is that he didn’t want to abandon the benefits of remaining in the good graces of his father, which might cost him his inheritance.
- Essentially, he is saying that once the will is read, and he gets everything his father had to leave to him, then he would be able to follow Jesus.
- He might possibly even have rationalized that such a delay might ultimately help the cause since Jesus had just mentioned that He didn’t have anything – even a place to lay His head.
- Yet, from Jesus’ response to him, Jesus isn’t interested in future resources but in present devotion.
- Unlike true disciples who are willing to leave everything to follow Jesus, this man counted to cost as too great and thus used an excuse to reject Jesus’ command to give up everything and follow Him – cp. Luke 8:14.
- Why is it so hard to make Jesus the priority that He ought to be?
- What are some ways that you could determine whether material possessions are more important to you than Jesus?
- What is the difference between “having things” and being “materialistic?”
III. The Objectives of Discipleship – 9:60
A. The Abandoning of Selfish Ambitions – “But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead’”
- Jesus immediately confronts this man’s excuse with what sounds like a harsh rebuke – “But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead.’”
- This isn’t harsh, but it is direct – Jesus is clarifying the divergent priorities that this man possessed from God.
- It does not instruct Christians to avoid participation in funerals; rather, it calls attention to the temporal priorities that people who are separated from God – those who are “dead” – possess, such as prioritizing an inheritance over following Jesus.
- In a paraphrase, Jesus states “Let those who are spiritually dead pursue the benefits of an inheritance doled out to those who avoided upsetting a benefactor.”
- Those who live for secular priorities wait for people to die so that they can secure for themselves what those who lived for secular priorities had to leave behind when they died.
- Jesus confronts the man with his selfish ambition – an ambition that would prevent him from eternal life itself – cp. Luke 9:23-25.
B. The Announcing of the Savior’s Accomplishments – “… but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
- The priority of a person who has abandoned everything in order to gain a relationship with Jesus Christ will have as a priority the fame of Christ.
- Thus, Jesus commands this man to choose Him rather than his riches – “but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
- Jesus had already promised that if anyone would seek Him and His glory in the kingdom of God, God would take care of all of their temporal needs – cp. Matthew 6:31-33.
- This is essentially a preview of the Great Commission that Jesus would command after His resurrection – that the occupation of every believer is to do all that they can to intentionally help another follow Christ more.
- This word “proclaim” [διαγγέλλω] – means to make something known far and wide; to spread the news about something; to certify.
- In order to fulfill what Jesus calls upon this man to do, he must deliver the “good news” of the “Kingdom of God:”
- Proclaim the Instruction of the Kingdom of God – “repent and believe” – essentially “make disciples of all nations …”
- Proclaim the Identity in the Kingdom – “… baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, …”
- Proclaim the Imperatives of the Kingdom – “… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
- Gospel living means personally applying these things to your own life as well as helping others do so as well as we “proclaim the kingdom of God” – “everywhere!” – in our homes, at our jobs, in our communities, in our church, in small groups, in classrooms, in kitchens, parks, pools, coffee shops, gun ranges, health clubs, golf courses, retirement homes, nurseries, or wherever we find ourselves – “everywhere.”
- What are some priorities that believers possess of which unbelievers have no idea?
- What are unbelievers preoccupied with – should those same things preoccupy believers?
- What treasures ought to distract believers – when will we collect them? Can that satisfy you?