Bread –Excuses

October 22, 2012


Readings for Monday, October 22, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 7:1-8; Luke 9:51-62; Psalms 9,15,25

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Jesus says “Follow Me” and what is your response? In today’s reading from Luke, we see a bunch of excuses for delay in responding to this call, making one wonder if the people whom Jesus calls will ever in fact respond.

In Luke 9:57, someone tells Jesus boldly that he will follow Jesus “wherever you go.” Jesus responds that He has nowhere to lay his head. Here, Jesus has not even said “Follow Me,” but the person is volunteering to do it. Essentially, Jesus’ response to that offer suggests that the person has not counted the cost of following Him, of really following Him. Are we really ready to follow Jesus when we offer to do so? Have we thought about what that means about setting aside our agenda, our needs, our pride, our timing, our results, and even, perhaps, our comfy bed? How is this example an excuse for failing to follow Jesus? I think it is an excuse because we use our failure to recognize how hard something is as our reason to quit doing it. In other words, we set ourselves up for the necessity to make excuses by failing to count the cost of discipleship in the first place. When we say that we have no time to pray because we have a meeting, what we are also saying is that we have no time to pray because we did not realize the load it would place on our schedule and our agenda, and now that we have figured that out we are not willing to pay the price. When we say that a particular person is unlovable, what we are also saying is that we did not realize that loving was such a difficult endeavor, that we said “we can do it” without realizing that we cannot do it (without help). “Well I didn’t know before I said …” Jesus says, “I am telling you so that you will know.”

In Luke 9:59, Jesus says “Follow Me” to a man, who then says essentially that he will once he has buried his father. Now burying your father is an important matter, as well as earning a livelihood, paying the bills, making that critical meeting, closing that new sale to a new customer, making that phone call you have been putting off, etc. Life presents us with a barrage of doings, all of which are important or which will become important if we ignore them. Our world is filled with busyness, which of course gives us our usual excuse for not following Jesus when He calls – “Mr. Jesus, I will, but I first need to do ….” This excuse is useful for avoiding the key question of salvation, of whether you believe and trust in Jesus, the risen Lord, enough that you will confess your sins, turn toward Him, ask Him for more help, and accept His gift of forgiveness and everlasting life. This excuse is also useful for avoiding Jesus’ calls to follow Him into prayer and relationship with Him; to follow Him into establishing loving relationships with family, friends, and strangers; to follow Him into worship; to follow Him into obedience, growth, and production of good fruit. The excuse of “I have something else I also need to do first” is useful for all kinds of things, none of which are a positive response to Jesus’ call to follow Him.

In Luke 9:61, we see the same excuse played out in a different context, this time focusing on maintaining over relationships over the relationship with Jesus. Here, the person who says he will follow Jesus says, however, that he must first say “Goodbye” to his friends and family. If Luke 9:59 represents the excuses of things over Jesus (I have to go to this meeting first; then we can have prayer time), then Luke 9:61 represents the excuses of people over Jesus (let me first say “Goodbye”). This set of excuses from following Jesus shows itself in a variety of ways, but perhaps the most insidious one is “If I do ____________, what will people think?” For example, “I can’t follow Jesus by talking about him right now to my pagan friend, because he will think that I am being pushy” is no different than saying to Jesus, “I will follow you after I tell my family goodbye.” It is putting the sensitivities of others above God.

Three types of excuses. “God, I can’t follow You today because I didn’t realize that Your demand on my life would cost me my new car.” (the excuse of “I didn’t know what I was getting into”). “God, I can’t follow You today because I have something else I have do first.” (the excuse of “I have something more important to me to do right now”). “God, I can’t follow You today, because following You might disturb a personal relationship I have with someone else.” (the excuse of “my relationship with others is more important than my relationship with You.”).

Jesus will call you today to something. Maybe it will be to belief and salvation. Maybe it will be to closer relationship with Him. Maybe it will be to participate in a miracle. Maybe it will be to enjoyment of life. Maybe it will be to forgiveness. Maybe it will be to love of neighbor. Maybe it will be to peace.

Will you respond in faith, or will you find an excuse?

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*Today’s readings designate Ecclesiasticus, sometimes called the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach. This is not a book contained In the canonical Old Testament, but instead belongs to that body of work called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books. These books are accepted by some Christian denominations as useful, but are rejected by other denominations. I have not included this reading today because of these controversies. However, if you want to read it, the reference for today is Ecclus. 4:20-5:7.

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© 2012 GBF

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One Response to “Bread –Excuses”

  1. KathyKremer Says:

    I misunderstood the phrase, “let me bury my father” in the past. I figured that the father was already dead and all that remained was the funeral. But I learned later that the man meant, “I must wait until my father dies and is buried before I can follow you, because my father would not like it.” People in that society were under strict authority of their parents, much more than in America today, and if a son (especially the eldest, heir) didn’t follow the father’s wishes he could be disinherited. So the cost of following Jesus against the father’s wishes could be the loss of everything he hoped to inherit someday. This strengthens the point that one should count the cost before deciding to follow Jesus, but also one should remember that Jesus promised if we left houses, land, and family that we would have a multiplied return in heaven as our reward.


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