The Point of No Return
October 17, 2022
No Turning Back
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. -Luke 9:51
When did the passion of the Christ begin in earnest? One might suggest that it started in eternity or at His birth or even later, intensifying in His baptismal identification with sinful man as the sinless Savior. However, if we are talking about that segment of His life where all of time begins to crescendo into an explosive event of redemption, it might be at this moment of turning. He set His face toward Jerusalem and all those who would be His disciples began to follow Him there. It was a point of no return.
There was no turning back for Jesus. The time had come. He knew what He had to do and He knew where He had to do it. Even though it meant suffering the likes of which no man had ever known, He would face it. He would follow the Father’s plan. They had planned it together and agreed from eternity that this would be the way.
It was the way of the cross.
“Jesus walked this lonesome valley;
He had to walk it by Himself.
Oh, nobody else could walk it for Him.
He had to walk it by himself.”
In the most profound sense, He was alone, even though others followed Him there. Though He taught us all to follow in that costly way of the cross, He led the way alone. There comes a point of no return in our lives where we must choose to stand along with Jesus whatever the cost.
“You must go and stand your trial;
You have to stand it by yourself.
Oh, nobody else can stand it for you.
You have to stand it by yourself.”
We know we are never alone in the most profound spiritual sense. God is always with us. As we follow Him steadfastly and with resolve, we are His yokefellows. Yet, we come as individuals and we make the choice in the same lonely place of our individual hearts as He did. We will go it whether or not our friends come along. We will do so with or without the support of our families or the favorable treatment of history.
Let us set our faces toward Jerusalem.
And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. -Luke 9:58
A certain man wanted to follow Jesus as have many through the centuries and into our time. Perhaps he thought it would be an adventure – and following Jesus is.
Perhaps he thought discipleship would bring a new dimension of meaning to his life – and it does.
Perhaps he longed for the camaraderie and acceptance that was so evident among the disciples of Jesus as it often is today in authentic Christian communities.
He may have been attracted by the laughter and awe of the other followers as Jesus taught them with such vivid realism.
But he was failing to consider one very important point: to follow Jesus would mean leaving all that he had ever counted on for security.
Follow Me ... But
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. -Luke 9:59
“I want to follow you, but...”
Was it an excuse, a delaying tactic, or a simple statement of ignorance? Have you never interjected, “but first” into your commitments with God? How often we have come to the Master with non-negotiable conditions.
Let the Dead Bury the Dead
Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. -Luke 9:60
Jesus’ answer to the man who cried, “but first” demonstrates the profound contrast between life and death. Discipleship is about dying to the old that we might live to the new.
“And another said, ‘Lord, I will follow Thee, but …” – Luke 9:61a
Erstwhile followers of the Master make a series of irrelevant statements in this great movement of scripture. They are irrelevant because they are merely excuses, postponements of discipleship, weasel-ways of saying “no” without having to actually commit to the word.
In the world of promoting where ones lifeblood is getting people to show up somewhere for something, there is an adage: A “no” is a “no;” a “maybe” s a “no;” and a “yes” is a “no” half the time. Nothing is as reliable as a rock-solid commitment and even that may falter. Humanity is infected with a disease for which David Schwartz coined the phrase, “excusitis.”
Moses had them: “ I am unworthy; I am unlearned; I am unable; I am unbelievable.”
But then he got to his bottom line, “Send someone else.” In other words, “I am unwilling.”
Here is the question: Are you willing to follow Jesus anywhere and in any way – NOW? If not now, when? Will it be as the old despot told the Apostle Paul, at a more convenient season? Are we “almost persuaded?”
Jesus has no time for nonsense. He calls to us through the waves of time, “Follow me.” And He means for us to drop everything – every excuse, every fear, every reservation, every other aspiration of our lives and follow. Half-hearted commitment is no commitment at all. Every reason Moses gave for not doing what God was calling him to do was basically true, but God’s power made them irrelevant.
No Looking Back
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. -Luke 9:62
All the man wanted to do was say, “goodbye.” At least that is what he said, but Jesus knew what was in his heart and that he was not truly ready to say, “goodbye.” Otherwise, he would have and would not have just talked about it. He was looking back with the longing gaze of one who was not truly leaving.
There would be no turning back. There is no turning back, There is no longing look back.
The following is forward, wherever it leads.