I read an interesting tidbit of imformation today concerning the The Australian coat of arms.
It pictures two animals, an emu, which is a large bird similar to an ostrich, and the kangaroo.
What was interesting is that these animals were chosen not because they are only native to that country.
But because they both share one certain characteristic.
That is, both the emu and the kangaroo can move only forward, not back.
The emu’s three-toed foot causes it to fall if it tries to go backwards.
And the kangaroo is preventing from going backwards because of its large tail.
This got me to thinking about following Jesus.
And if we are truly dedicated to following Him we should try to be more like the emu and the kangaroo.
Always moving forward, never backwards.
In Luke chapter 9, we see a situation play out where Jesus is encouraging some to follow Him.
And beginning in verse 59, Jesus says to one man very simply, “Follow me.”
“But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Now, at first glance it would seem that Jesus is calling on the man to just let his father lay without burial.
But let us consider a couple of things here.
First, the man’s father may not even be dead yet.
And in a sense, this man may be telling Jesus that he needs to go home and take care of thing until his father dies.
If that is the case, it is quite possible that when the man gets home, one thing will lead to another.
And after taking his focus off of Jesus for a while, he will most likely forget all about following Jesus.
But let us also consider the possibility that his father is dead and in need of burial.
Still, the man’s focus will be not on Jesus, but on the task.
Not to mention that he may be next in line with the responsibility of taking care of the family home.
In which case, other matters will take the place of responsibility to Jesus.
Either way, I am sure Jesus was well aware of whether this man would return to follow Him or not.
Jesus’ response to this man may seem strange to us.
After all, how can the dead bury anyone.
But it is not so strange when we consider that those who do not follow Christ are still dead in their sins.
As Paul tells the Christians in Colossians 2:13:
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.
Then we read another exchange with a different man in verses 61-62:
“Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”
“Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Is Jesus telling this man to just forget about his family?
In a sense, we can answer this question yes and no.
But without knowing the situation at this man’s home (which I am sure Jesus did know) we can’t be for sure.
But think about this, family can be a powerful deterent from following Jesus.
Supose this man went home and his wife said, “You have to fix the roof on the barn before you leave.”
Then, as before, one thing leads to another.
And the next thing you know, following Jesus fades into the background of everything else that demands our attention.
I have seen a similar situation in Lisa’s and my own family.
Not that anyone tried to drag us away from Christ.
But by putting things of the world ahead of Him.
And expecting us to do the same.
Sometimes I dont think we realize the powerful influence that family members have on us outside of God.
Jesus’ solution to this man is to not look back.
I used to do some soybean plowing on the farm.
And I have to say, as long as I looked front and center, I didn’t do near as much damage to the crop as I did when I looked back.
But to look forward meant that you have to trust that everything is lining up perfectly behind you.
Without that trust, you will be looking back a lot.
Let us all strive to look and trust in Jesus, and not look back.
As Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”