The Heart of Full Commitment
July 28, 2019 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Topic: Commitment Verse: Luke 9:61–9:62
The Heart of Discipleship
“The Heart of Full Commitment”
Theme: A true disciple of Jesus Christ will not allow other relationships to compete with Jesus.
I. The Desire for Full Commitment to Christ – 9:61a
A. The Impulse to Follow Christ – “Another also said, …”
- Through a series of exchanges, Jesus hones our understanding of His expectations of those who follow Him.
- It is easy to assert, or profess, that we are “followers of Jesus,” without contest or anyone to dispute – we can develop a personalized and arbitrary standard for what that means.
- However, the only assessment of a disciple that matters is the one that the Master provides.
- We are in a battle here today for the souls of men – whereas many “church-goers” believe that church is for self-affirmation or merely the encouragement of people to be better versions of themselves.
- Yet, this is not the agenda that is displayed in Scriptures where impulsive, fad-following people are rejected completely by Christ.
- In our text today, like many professing Christians today, another disciple asserts his faithfulness and devotion to Jesus, “Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord.’”
- Such a testimony can result from an aspiration – that is, a recognition of the “right thing to do” and without consideration of what such actual following would mean.
B. The Intention to Follow Christ – ‘I will follow You, Lord.’”
- This disciple may have heard the previous exchanges between Jesus and his predecessors – the first who volunteered to follow Jesus anywhere who didn’t understand that he couldn’t advance his own stature, that discipleship was about the Master, not about making one’s life better.
- He may have heard the man Jesus had just commanded to follow Him – the one who decided that it wasn’t worth losing his inheritance,
- Now this unnamed disciple volunteers, desiring to avoid the same mistakes that the others had made.
- It seems that this man truly desired to be “all in,” but like most of us, we may not comprehend what that means.
- This man didn’t realize that following Christ was going to mean the willingness to lose his family.
- What are some ways that one might discern between impulses of ambition and the leading of God’s Spirit?
- Think of your own desire to follow Christ – what causes your desire to be honorable?
- What is necessary for one’s intentions to follow Christ to be authentic?
II. The Difficulty in Full Commitment to Christ – 9:61b
A. The Hesitation in Response – “… but first …”
- The same indication that there is a hesitation in this man’s commitment is seen as the man said: “But, first permit me to …”
- The word “first” [πρῶτος] – conveys something that is first in a sequence – identifying it as a matter of primary importance.
- It describes something that serves as a prerequisite to something else.
- What is there in your life that serves as a matter that would keep you from absolute devotion to Christ – personal habits, relationships with friends or family, romantic relationships, intellectual pride, autonomy, or perhaps is your comfort: “I’ll follow you Lord, but of greatest priority to me is that you allow me to remain in my comfort zone.”
B. The Hindrance of Relationships - “… permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”
- Essentially, he declares: “If it were up to me, I will follow You, Lord, but I need to check with my family first.”
- Example of introducing my wife to my family.
- We might be tempted to say that this was a good example of “respecting one’s parents” and family loyalty, but Jesus’ response indicates that this was not a commendable respect for the man’s family, but a fear of what those at home would think or say – cp. 1 Kings 19:19-21.
- Jesus, knowing what is in the hearts of men, knows that if this man were to be permitted to go back to gain the approval of his family would cause him to overcome the desire that the man had to follow Christ.
- This man’s request revealed that his family ties were too strong for him to break away from them.
- The fear of family loss, or disapproval, can compromise a person from becoming a true follower of Jesus Christ – cp, Luke 14:26
- A man is commanded to leave father and mother and cleave to one’s wife – a demonstration that the marital relationship supersedes all other temporal, horizontal, earthly relationships.
- Yet, one’s relationship with Jesus Christ must outstrip even one’s relationship with one’s spouse.
- Some years ago, my family had the opportunity to be involved in saving the life of a man who collapsed in a park where we were having family portraits made. Having three nurses in the family, we watched as this man’s life was literally snatched from the flames. Upon his recovery, he began attending church and showed great interest in the things of Christ. However, his spouse wanted little or nothing to do with it. In the end, the man chose his wife and perhaps to his own eternal peril.
- When a person is going to follow Jesus Christ, there must be nothing that stands in the way of one’s obedience to the command to follow Christ.
- Have you ever vacillated in your desire to follow Christ? … what contributed to your instability?
- What are the most common hindrances to your devotion to Christ?
- Is there anyone who is “toxic” to your ability to be wholly devoted to the Lord?
III. The Demand for Full Commitment to Christ – 9:62
A. The Expectation of Devotion – “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow …’”
- Jesus isn’t someone who accepts an “also ran” placement in a person’s life.
- The expectation of Jesus Christ is that when a person professes to be a disciple and will follow Him, that they are agreeing to serve Him in whatever ways Jesus commands.
- This “proverb” is ancient – dating back to 700’s BC and Greek literature – emphasizing complete dedication to the task at hand.
- A person cannot plow a straight furrow without fixing one’s eyes on a focal point; if a person is constantly “looking back,” they won’t be able to perform acceptably.
- In the same way, a person who is going to follow Christ must focus on the priorities of the Kingdom of God and seek to move consistently toward those priorities without looking back at the priorities of this world.
B. The Evidence of Duplicity – “… and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
- This man’s problem was that he seemed to recognize the value of the Kingdom of God but was guilty of “looking back” at some of the things of value in this world – cp. Genesis 19:26; Luke 17:32.
- Jesus knew that it is impossible to follow Him with a divided heart – Luke 16:13
- As a result, Jesus was warning this man that if he were going to be able to be included in the kingdom of God, he would have to let go of any competing value – otherwise, he “is [not] fit for the kingdom of God.”
- Jesus demands that this man be willing to completely deny himself and anything else in order to follow Christ faithfully and fully – anything less would bar the man from the Kingdom of God!
- Over the past several weeks, we have noticed that “The Heart of Discipleship” includes gaining:
- … The Heart of the Redeemer that prioritizes the eternal glory of Christ through the salvation of others;
- … The Heart to Follow Christ regardless of personal cost;
- … The Heart to Prioritize the Gospel – that is seeing the ability to bring glory to Jesus is of greater value than any earthly treasure; and,
- … The Heart of Full Commitment – seeing the ability to follow Jesus as more important than any other human relationship.
- In your opinion, is it appropriate for Jesus to demand your full devotion? Why or why not?
- Are there any Christians for whom Jesus has no expectations of faithful service?
- How does the unwillingness to follow and obey Christ demonstrate that a person is not truly saved?