Jesus has now set His face to go to Jerusalem (v. 51). This will be His final journey, and in that city He will meet opposition, betrayal, trial, death and, ultimately, resurrection. The next ten chapters of Luke’s gospel (10–19) are full of statements about “going”, “following”, and being “along the road”.
These chapters record more than just Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Certainly, “the road” (v. 57) refers to the road Jesus walked on, but it is also a metaphor for Christian discipleship. That’s why, as He walks along the road, Jesus is continually teaching about discipleship. Indeed, followers of Jesus were initially called followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2).
The most direct route from Galilee to Judea is through Samaria. For centuries, Jews and Samaritans had despised each other and so, not surprisingly, a Samaritan town rejects Jesus. Jesus rebukes the disciples for wanting to bring judgment on them. They haven’t yet understood that Jesus is going to Jerusalem to die on a cross that He might save people from their sins, not judge them for their sins (vv. 51–56).
The work of proclaiming the kingdom requires single-minded devotion and, as He has already told the disciples, a life of self-denial. This is illustrated in three dramatic encounters that Jesus has “along the road” (v. 57). First, an enthusiastic follower expresses his wish to follow Jesus anywhere and everywhere. I wonder if he really understood where Jesus was going; none of the Twelve seemed to. The next two men want to first fulfil family obligations before following Jesus. In each case Jesus reminds them, and us, of the uncompromising character of discipleship. He is not laying down new commands, such as “don’t own a house” (v. 58). He is not overturning the command to honour one’s parents. Jesus himself instructs us to care of our families (Matthew 15:4–6). Jesus is dramatically emphasising that following Him is the priority and that will sometimes involve costly choices (vv. 60–62).
Many Christians throughout history have given up homes, careers, comfort and even, for a time, family in order to serve the kingdom. God may not call on all of us to make such sacrifices, but He does call all of us to be willing—He demands our total commitment.
Our Master, the Lord Jesus, had nowhere to lay His head (v. 58). What do you think that means for us practically?
Can you think of times when there might be tension between doing the work of the kingdom and fulfilling one’s family responsibilities?