Disciples rather have a tough time of it in the Gospel reading this week. James and John get a rebuke. We might heartily concur with Jesus’ rebuke of them, but be careful there. Jesus seems to be saying that we must lose our prejudices, passions, and proclivities to violence. Jesus demands that we sacrifice everything this week, including our cherished sense of indignation. Three others are offered or volunteer to follow Jesus, but family and obligations get in the way. No one who puts his hand to plow and looks back is worthy says Jesus.
This would be unbearable, and many find it to be unbearable, except that we are talking to Jesus here. He did not look back. Even when Moses and Elijah come and speak with him on the mountain of transfiguration, they speak of his road out – the future, not the past. Jesus has not looked back, but only ahead to the cross, where he has set his face to Jerusalem. He was going there to give up all.
Luke recasts all sacrifice today. It is connected to His sacrifice. Whether we speak of lambs on Jewish altars or the far more mundane sacrifices which are asked of us in this life, they all are connected to the sacrifice of Jesus. The traffic flows from Him to us, rendering our sacrifices holy and our lives pleasing to God. But Jesus does not just claim the parts of our lives which we willingly give him. He claims it all. Having given all, he is Lord of all. It is good to have Him as our Master. Hold nothing back.