Luke 9: 57-62

The Cost of Following Jesus


57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”


Many of us struggle with worry. We think about what might happen, what could happen, and what we hope will happen. That has its own set of problems that we will discuss tomorrow. But today, let’s talk about those of us who worry about the past. We go over and over past conversations or our reactions to something that happened, and we beat ourselves up about how we could have reacted better. We think about what we should have said or what could have been.  I call this “shoulda-woulda-coulda” process. We think about how we should have, would have or could have done something different. It’s easy to do and sometimes can take over our thoughts. Often times I will wake up in the night thinking about how I might have handled something differently. I think God speaks to me in the dead of night sometimes and I try to listen. But while it is helpful to recognize our mistakes, and better yet, to learn from those instances, it is not helpful at all to dwell there. It causes anxiety over something that has already passed. We can’t shoulda-woulda-coulda anything into changing!

God doesn’t want us looking back at what once was. We should appreciate our past and the experience we have had, but continually looking back gets us off track. In this scripture passage, Jesus is trying to explain the cost of discipleship to his followers. It may seem that he doesn’t care about burying the dead or saying farewells to family, but I don’t think that is the point. Jesus loved his followers and their families. Jesus was explaining that being a disciple is costly. Sometimes it means leaving situations or people that you love. It means dying to self and earthly desires. Once a farmer puts his “hand to the plow," he can’t look back or his path will be crooked. We simply have to stay focused on the way forward. And that way is paved by Jesus. 

Are you someone who shoulda-woulda-coulda’s yourself to death? Stop it! Put your hand to the plow and don’t look back. Appreciate where you have come from and how you got here, but focus on the path ahead.


God, I commit my way to you. I am ready to follow your call, no matter the direction. Guide me with your Spirit and give me courage to follow you closely. May I continue to grow in my trust and faith in you, oh Lord. You are my rock and my redeemer. Thank you for loving me so. Amen.