“And He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’ But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.’ Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say goodbye to those at home.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:59-62
Is there anything wrong with burying your father or saying goodbye to those at home? Of course not. Then why did Jesus say what He said to these seemingly sincere people? One uses the phrase, “permit me first,” and the other says, “first permit me,” yet both preface their requests by calling Jesus, “Lord.” They call Him, “Lord,” but want to set their own terms in following Him.
Jesus is calling you and me to put the kingdom of God first, not ourselves, and not our families. If these two had left everything for the kingdom, it’s very possible Jesus would have given them the assignment of going home first, like He did to the demoniac who was delivered in the chapter before. (Luke 8:39) But Jesus telling you to go home is very different from you telling Jesus that you’re going home before following Him.
I think that family is one of the main idols of the evangelical church in America today. People run their lives around their children, their grandchildren, or their extended family, and just assume that God’s okay with that. Listen to the words of Jesus, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37) If family is first you won’t even be able to serve them in a right way because they are in the middle instead of Jesus. This is unhealthy and will end up leading the family you love subtly away from Jesus instead of to Him.
Jesus gave everything for us and He’s asking us to give everything back to Him. When we do, there is a freedom from self that brings a great rest into our lives. Let’s set our hands to the plow called the kingdom of God and trust God with everything else, including our families.