Fifth Sunday after Trinity 30.6.13 Luke 9.51-end

23 06 2013

No Place for Excuses

Jesus isn’t at all happy in this passage; but he is not as cross as his followers.  There is tension here and the words are harsh. There seems to be no place for the half-hearted in Jesus mission.

Luke 9.51-end

When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to another village.

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ 58And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 59To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ 60But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ 61Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ 62Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’


To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. Focusing on Jerusalem changes everything. Why?
  2. Do you think the person mentioned in verse 57 follows or gives up?
  3. Why is looking back such an offence against the kingdom of God?

Heart Questions

  1. What do make of Jesus’ tone of voice in these verses?
  2. What’s going on in James’ and John’s minds and hearts  in v 54?
  3. How do you feel about Jesus by the end of this passage?

Hand Questions

  1. How does this passage challenge your sense of mission?
  2. What does it mean to follow one who had nowhere to lay his head?
  3. Can you share a story about how following Jesus has made a demand on you that you have found really difficult?


These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.