Look at these two different verses, one from the Christian scriptures, and the one it echoes from the Hebrew scriptures.
Luke 9:56-62 (TLV)
56 Then they moved on to another village. 57 As they were traveling on the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 But Yeshua said to him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 He said to another, “Follow Me.” But that one said, “First let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Yeshua said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Then another also said, “I will follow You, Master, but first let me say goodbye to those in my home.” 62 But Yeshua said to him, “No one who has put his hand to the plow and looked back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
While all of this passage is interesting, this post is concerned with verses 61-62.
Now look at the parallel –
1 Kings 19:19-21 (HCSB)
19 Elijah left there and found Elisha son of Shaphat as he was plowing. Twelve teams of oxen were in front of him, and he was with the twelfth team. Elijah walked by him and threw his mantle over him. 20 Elisha left the oxen, ran to follow Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you.” “Go on back,” he replied, “for what have I done to you?” 21 So he turned back from following him, took the team of oxen, and slaughtered them. With the oxen’s wooden yoke and plow, he cooked the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he left, followed Elijah, and served him.
In the Hebrew scriptures (1 Kings 19:19-21) the prophet-to-be Elisha is allowed to go back and finish up his business. Yet in the Christian scriptures (Luke 9:56-62), the unnamed follower-to-be is denied this.
Is it because he wasn’t chosen? In the case of Elisha, God told Elijah that he was to be selected as his follower, moreover, as his successor. He is not just a follower, but is going to be an equal to Elijah in status and power.
Yet the follower of Yeshua (The Hebrew name of Jesus) was not chosen. He chose to follow, instead of being chosen. There is a difference, and it is important. He was at risk of turning away, of being distracted from his healthy choice, if he went to his family – his old way of living. He had to follow immediately or he would be in danger of being distracted from the path that leads to life.
This feels like an echo of the Parable of the Sower. Here is the Condensed Gospel version of Jesus’ explanation of it –
The parable of the sower explained
Jesus said “Do you not understand this parable? Then how are you going to be able to understand any of them? The seed is the word of God. The sower is the one who shares it with others. The people along the path are those who have heard the message about the kingdom and don’t understand it. Satan has snatched away the words that were sown in their hearts so they would not believe and be saved.”
As for the seed sown on rocky ground, this represents the people who hear the word and immediately receive it joyfully. However, because they are not rooted in their faith, they believe for a little while but stumble when troubles come because of the word.
Regarding the seed sown among thorns, these are the people who hear the word but are distracted and paralyzed by worry and greed, and the word is not able to take root in them and produce any fruit.
But the seed sown on good ground represents the people who hear the word with honest and open hearts. They understand it, welcome it, and through endurance are able to bear much fruit, even up to 100 times what was sown.”
MT 13:18-24, MK 4:13-20, LK 8:11-15
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