Contemplating Jesus

DON’T LOOK BACK

Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

 

When Jesus walked upon the sea shore of Galilee and called some fishermen to follow him, Peter, Andrew, James and Johns’ lives were changed forever.  This was because they immediately acted upon Jesus’ invitation.  The gospel of Matthew  (4:18-22)  reported that they dropped their nets, dropped their old way of doing things, to enter an extraordinary life of learning, witnessing and living in the Spirit of God, and eventually laying the foundation for Jesus’ world heritage.  Such a life purpose could have been easily missed in that split second if they had kept to their day’s agenda.  Jesus confronted the problem of not being ready to drop everything in two incidents.  One was when a disciple responded that he had to first bury his father.  Jesus retorted, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury the dead,” (Matthew 8:21/22).   In other words, take the opportunity when it comes and let others step in and care for the details needed to be left behind.  The second incident was in Luke 9: 59-62 when a person asked to first go and say good-bye to the people at home.   Jesus’ response to this was “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

There is little doubt that these two people were genuine in their desire to do exactly what Jesus required, but they had just one thing of their own to do first.  Jesus clearly states that an opportunity for radical new life with him disallows the chance to pack one’s bags.   His is a journey where all needs are met through faith alone. 

Two other stories spring to mind to expand upon his message.  There’s Lot, to which Jesus also called attention in Luke  17:32.  Lot’s family were instructed by angels to flee their home before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. “Do not look back….or else you will be consumed.” (Genesis 19: 15-26).   When on their way to safety, Lot’s wife, who was behind him, looked back and was changed into a pillar of salt.   Similarly, in the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus, the legendary musician, poet and prophet — whose efforts to retrieve his deceased wife from Hades were successful –was also instructed to not look back.   When he and his wife set foot in the upper world, like Lot, Orpheus was ahead of his wife who looked back, only to be returned to Hades forever.    

For those who don’t look back, Jesus assures responsibilities.  When he made Peter the rock for his Church and gave him “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” Jesus also assured him that “the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18).

Going through Hades after his death, Jesus did not look back on his way to his resurrection. Moving forward is part of his call to fully and spontaneously follow him, to be an active participant in the life he guides and desires for our futures.

“Those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.”   (Mark 8:35).   

This entry was posted in The Life. Bookmark the permalink.