I’ve read Luke 9:62 many times before. There Jesus says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” I had often thought of Lot’s wife who turns back to her home and is turned into a pillar of salt. She was being delivered from judgment and all she could do was look back to her home.
But as we’ve finished the book of Exodus this week, I couldn’t help but read this verse in Luke and think of the Israelites as a whole. They were delivered from slavery and almost immediately they turn their hearts back to Egypt and to other gods. God is angered by these actions. We read this week in Exodus 34 that our God is a jealous God. He wants us for himself alone. God wants us to only worship him. Yet we look back again and again. We look back to false gods and idols. We look back imagining that an old life was better than it truly was. We rewrite history like the Israelites who wished they could return to Egypt where they felt life was better.
In Luke, Jesus pushes his disciples to not turn back from following him. There is a radical break in the way the disciples and Jesus relate to possessions and treasure–don’t look back to those. Do not return to seeing the world the way the culture does and they way you used to. To follow Jesus in many ways is to leave behind the things of the world.
As always, Jesus never pushes us and challenges us to do what he will not do himself. Earlier in chapter nine it says of Jesus, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus knew what waited for him there. Jesus set his face to the city where he would be crucified, and he didn’t look back. Repeatedly Jesus says to his disciples that he came for that very purpose. Jesus did not look back even though his purpose was to die for those who hated him.
This Jesus is the one who tells us, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” He calls us to come and follow him. We are to firmly fix our eyes on Jesus, and let the things of earth fade away, never looking back.
This is a hard task, greater than our efforts could accomplish, but thanks be to God that he gives us the strength and works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil 2:13).