“No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, it fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
When I was a young boy I relished the opportunities to spend a night at my cousins who lived on a farm. My uncle LG’s wife died in her twenties, leaving him to raise a son and daughter. Work was the norm as everyone was up and doing their chores as the sun began to make its appearance. Janice cooked a big breakfast complete with homemade buttermilk biscuits while Edward was out feeding the livestock and slopping the hogs. When the morning chores were done, it was time to clean up and get ready for school. After school, there were still plenty of work to be done. I have fond memories of cousin Edward hitching up their mule to an old wooden handled plow. Mules are stubborn animals, but Edward did a marvelous job of making that contrary old mule plow a straight furrow. The children took a lot pride in their work, but more than anything, they wanted to please their father. Today, that type of farming is history, and unfortunately, so are many of the Edwards and Janice’s.
Jesus had something to say about plowing. Luke 9:51 records that Jesus had set His eyes towards Jerusalem for the time of the Passover Feast was at hand, and for Jesus there was no turning back. As He and his disciples journeyed, they encountered three men who wanted to become disciples also, but each of them had personal reasons (excuses) that caused them to be disqualified. The one thing all three had in common was clear, they loved the world more than they loved Him. As we read the account found in Luke 9, we find that each of them had managed to get the plow ahead of the mule. Their question to Jesus was not how they could be saved, their question centered on how they could become His disciples.
In verse 62 Jesus makes an astounding statement concerning their desire to become a disciple, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God!” Wow! Has anyone ever been guilty of looking back? Unfortunately, we have all been guilty at one time or another, so where does that leave us? Are we fit for the Kingdom, or has our looking back disqualified us? Let’s look at three points that will help bring clarity to the words of Jesus.
# 1 It appears that these men were not saved. They were Jews and they were of the Covenant, but the prevailing covenant at the time Jesus spoke these words was the Mosaic Law. The Law could not save anyone, nor was it meant to. That was the very reason that Jesus was going to Jerusalem, to offer Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. NOTE: The disciples (Judas Iscariot the exception) were saved because they had placed their faith in Jesus, believing Him to be he Son of God (Matt. 16:15). Even so, not even the disciples were born again. Not until Christ Jesus bore our sins on the Cross, and His Heavenly Father raised Him from the dead could anyone be born again.
# 2 They still had a love affair with the world. Edward plowed a straight furrow because he fixed his eyes on an object at the end of the field and refused to look back. Lot’s wife looked back and the price was the loss of her life. Many Christians spend most of their lives looking back. They receive Jesus and they love Jesus, but they also love the things of the world. The bible makes it clear that we are in the world, but we are not of the world. When we look back our minds become captive of the very things that Jesus died to free us of. Our minds become contaminated and conformed to the world’s system. Looking back causes us to become double minded, and the cost of double mindedness can be far more than we are willing to pay. Dear Reader, beware the temptation of looking back because the pleasures of this world are temporary. Nothing in this world can compare with the eternal rewards of God’s Kingdom.
# 3 Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and to give us a New Covenant. He did both! The Old Covenant required the blood of animals to hide our sins; the New Covenant required the blood of Jesus to once and for all remove our sins. The Old Covenant required works while the New Covenant of Grace requires that we place our faith in what Jesus accomplished on the Cross. Jesus said, “Neither do you put new wine into old wineskins” (Matt. 9:17). It was His way of saying that the Old Covenant written in stone was not to be mixed with the New Covenant written on the hearts of men by the Holy Spirit. At times we are all guilty of mixing the two, but the New Covenant is greater than the Old, for where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. When we do falter and look back, the power of grace keeps us in right standing with God. Praise Him now for abundant Grace, for His blood has justified the New Testament believer forever. Jesus has made us to be His disciples, eternally justified, and forever fit for the Kingdom of God.