Pay Attention to Your Reaction
At the end chapter 9, Luke records four different reactions by potential Jesus followers. First, James and John want to call down fire from heaven when they see that they, nor Jesus, are welcomed by Samaritans. They were being rejected. The Sons of Thunder reacted by wanting to live up to their name and bring destruction from the sky (see Luke 9:51-56).
Second, a very zealous man was told by Jesus to think twice before following Him. Being with Jesus wasn’t about comfort and ease and “the good life” (see Luke 9:57-58).
Third, a man’s reaction to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him was a request to have time to bury his dad (see Luke 9:59-60).
Finally, a man reacts by wanting to say goodbye to his family (see Luke 9:61-62).
I find it interesting that the ones who knew better and the ones who had the worst reaction of all are the ones who are well known as Jesus’ disciples – James and John.
Jesus’ response to the other three were harsh, but not rejections.
We tend to read the response of Jesus to the final three interactions in Luke 9 as “do or die” scenarios.
“Unless you are willing to give up your house and comfort, you’re out.”
“Unless you are willing to let someone else bury your parents, tough.”
“Unless you have the faith that your family will be taken care of and will get over you leaving them, stay home.”
But in each of these, Jesus doesn’t tell them to leave. Jesus never tells them to go away from Him and get over themselves. In fact, if anyone needs to get over themselves here it is James and John. And we know they continued to be Jesus’ disciples.
So why did Jesus lead James and John through Samaria if he knew they would reject Him?
Why did Jesus tell the comfortable man that He had no place to lay His head?
Why did Jesus tell the fatherless to let someone else bury his dad?
Why did Jesus tell the man to ignore his family?
To lead them to pay attention to their hearts. To pay attention to how they react. To show them (and us) how unique the kingdom of God is and what it is like. To show them (and us) how far our hearts are from where they need to be. To cause them (and us) to examine our hearts and seek help to get us from where we are to where we need to be.
Jesus didn’t use a “three strikes and you’re out” philosophy with these men. If that were the case, James and John would have walked to the dugout early. No, Jesus didn’t tell these men they were “out” because of their reactions. He said what He said and did what He did to show the intense nature of the kingdom of God. His goal, I believe, was to reveal to them where their hearts were – compelling them to lean into where He was leading them to go.
Any people you want to destroy? Why?
Guilty of not wanting to follow Jesus because of the fear of what you will lose? Why?
Fearful of following Jesus because of what you will miss? Why?
Want to check with your family first before you follow Jesus fully? Why?
Pay attention to your reactions.
Pay attention to how you respond. Pay attention to your emotional and spiritual radar. Jesus will lead you into circumstances to expose your heart. Jesus will speak severe words to you. Lean into them. Pay attention to your reaction. Seek help from others and Him to take you from where you are, to where and who He is leading you to be.