To explain this away, I have often just responded that Jesus demands all or nothing. You’re either ‘in’ or you’re ‘out’! If you can’t give him your best, then He wants nothing at all. Recently I was caused to reconsider this long held idea and replace it with one which is certainly more reasonable, but yet one that is certainly more applicable to our times.
Had the circumstances been such that the man’s father had died and that there was a burial to be done, we are only talking hours, not days or weeks. The customs of the times (and the climatic conditions) demanded that the dead be buried immediately, usually the same day. A relevant example of this would be the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. When Ananias fell dead, he was buried even before his wife was aware of his death.
Some commentaries explain that the problem was not that the man’s father had just died and that Jesus was forbidding this man his last moments of grief. Rather that the man’s father was simply aged and the son was wanting to stay close by until such a time as the father was deceased AND THEN he would be ready to follow Jesus. The Amplified Bible states the man’s request as follows, “Lord, let me first go and bury [care for till death] my father.
Many today are telling the same thing to the Lord. While the Lord calls them to a new level of commitment, the reply far too often is that they are waiting for a life-change moment to open up the opportunity. While (perhaps) we would not use the same reason as this man, we would use the same premise:
Wait until I graduate.
Wait until I get a new job.
Wait until I get my raise.
Wait until the kids are grown.
Wait until I retire.
People spend their entire lives going from one transition moment to the next: all the while promising the Lord that at the NEXT one, they will make that big commitment. Sadly, these events come and go and we seldom do what we promised we would do.
God’s call seldom comes at a convenient time. God’s conviction never comes at a good moment in our lives. God seldom chooses those pivotal times of our lives to ask for a higher level of service. Rather He speaks on any given Sunday, through ordinary men and women in regular church services and s\times of prayer. Sadly, far too often our reply is, “let me finish this project…”, or “once I have this or that matter taken care of…”.
With haste, respond to God’s voice. In the Old Testament while the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness, they were obligated to move when the pillar of cloud and fire moved. Day or night, dinner time or nap time, when God said move it was time to move. The voice of God is not convenient. The call of God to pray or the call of God to leave house and home for the sake of missions cannot be put off for a more convenient time.
When Jesus says “GO”, we must go. When Jesus says “GIVE”, we must give. Whatever He asks, whether at a time of convenience or not, let us simply say “YES”!