ESV - 62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
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Jesus spoke the words cited in the question as part of a series of responses in Luke 9:57-62 that He gave to people who told Him that they wanted to follow Him, but who were either possibly or apparently not fully aware of the sacrifices that discipleship required, or else who indicated by their words that there were other things on which they placed a higher immediate priority than discipleship. One man told Jesus that he would follow Him wherever He went, but Jesus responded by saying that, unlike even animals such as birds and foxes, which had nests or dens to live in, following Him would mean living an itinerant existence (as He did) that would require giving up the comforts of home. Jesus told another man to follow Him, but the man wanted to wait until his father had died before he did so. Jesus told him that such excuses were valid only for those who were spiritually dead, and not for those who wanted to receive the spiritual, abundant, eternal life that following Jesus and his teachings would impart, which had a higher importance and priority than any earthly concerns. A third man (the one referenced in the question) wanted to say good-bye to those at home before he started following Jesus. Jesus used a figure of speech borrowed from agriculture in response. A person plowing a field with a horse or mule in Jesus' day had to keep his entire attention focused forward in order to assure that the animal that was pulling the plow was plowing in a straight line. If the plowman let his attention be distracted by turning around and looking backward, the animal would go off course and the furrow that it was plowing would be crooked. Jesus was saying that a person who was worthy to be His disciple had to place the same priority on the forward-going spiritual mission that Jesus called him to perform, and could not let himself be distracted or diverted by thoughts of what he was leaving behind, or had left behind, in his former life.
No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. This answer to the request of the man in Lk. 9:61 seems harsh, but it was not, for Jesus knew that if he returned home he would likely submit to the unbelieving relatives who would weep, reproach, ridicule, and tempt him to give up such an idea.
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