To Say Goodbye is Hard

But to say Hello to Jesus – He demands we say goodbye to all others

Yes it is true – To say goodbye is hard

As the pandemic continues to wage on once more, I feel a deep fear among people , gripping them to despair even of life itself and sucking out joy and true life. What is the answer to this fear?

Well it is more of Jesus ! Jesus … Jesus the answer is always Jesus.

‘In this world you will have tribulation’ is what Jesus spoke ‘but take heart I have overcome the world!’

Now the world gripped in the throes of the 4th wave of the covid pandemic- I sense the fear once again growing – causing people to fear- making plans- seeking security- to calm their fears once again.

Luke 14:33 ‘so anyone who does not renounce everything he has cannot be my disciple’

Many times goodbyes are hard- especially saying goodbye to things which we have especially grown to trust in and depend upon. There are many many fears in this life. What will we do to make a living – how will our children survive- worries over physical health- and financial difficulties and over the evil that is in our world today. Social security, taxes, war, covid. And as normal people we try to somehow minimize the risk- and somehow try to insulate ourselves from our (worst) fears- hoping that they will not come to pass. Is this not normal? There are many things in this life- which give us a real sense of security and help us feel better about our future and calm those inner fears. Things like social security, and retirement, 401k plans, and insurance has become a commonplace and given and accepted part of society. And now with covid 19, things like vaccines, give us a real feeling of security in a sea of fear.

(Understand as a physician I am 100% completely in favor of vaccines and the covid 19 vaccine having received Pfizer and contemplating a booster soon – I hope that everyone who is able receives vaccination for it is effective and safe for the majority of people. I am especially saddened that Christians are so against vaccinations for this has not always been the case. One only has to read of historical accounts of Johnathan Edwards- who was a pastor and theological giant in the 18th century- who trying to help society at large and burdened by a smallpox pandemic decided to undergo inoculation- the precursor of our modern vaccination – sadly he succumbed to actual smallpox illness and passed several weeks later.. but this is not 18th century- the science is much improved – and mRNA vaccine technology is safe, and his attitude of ‘trying to help society at large ‘ as a christian is a Christ like attitude for sure and complete antithetical to many Christians who are opposed to vaccination. I will not even mention- maybe for a later time- the conspiracy theories that covid 19 vaccines are akin to receiving the mark of the beast. I am reminded of a passage in scripture ‘my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’ hosea 4:6 here the point being that the mark of the beast in the book of revelations is not and cannot be a vaccine taken to prevent a pandemic- study this and you will find it to be so. )

But to the topic at hand.

That is why from a modern and western viewpoint many of the things which Jesus said are not only difficult to understand- but even cause an internal revolt in our souls when we hear them for what they truly are.

In Luke 9- Jesus has just alluded to this— that there is a ‘real’ cost to being his disciples—- that of saying ‘goodbye’ to other things, maybe even good things to follow Him alone. It is not the giving up of ‘bad things’ or ‘sin’ which is so hard to stomach- as a disciple to Christ- but the saying ‘goodbye’ to the good things that we cling to – in order to have ‘one thing’ only- that we cling to- Jesus Himself.

57 ¶ As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 And 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.

Jesus teaches us that we cannot put our security or trust in the physical things that we possess- the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head- and He expects His followers to have this same attitude.

This is radical! This is not usual, or common!

if one truly aligns with the attitude and philosophy of Jesus here- it is against the whole grain and tide of modern western society. But Jesus goes further still.

59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.

This man was saying in essence , ‘my father is old- let me just delay a bit maybe weeks or months or many a few years and when he is dead and buried then I will follow you completely Lord. But now I must attend to him— he is family and family does come first – right?’

But what Jesus says – is even offensive – to this man and offensive to the modern western sentiment. In essence what He is saying is ‘no- if you have chosen to follow me- as the center of your life- everything changes- you must make me Lord of your life – and forsake every other agenda- my kingdom must come and it must come through my disciples- if you are not radical about my kingdom coming- even if you let good things (and taking care of an elderly father is a very good thing) come in the way of the Best thing- you are not fit to be my disciple.’ Whoa- Jesus – this is radical. But it is this which is offensive to Christianity. Jesus demands that seemingly good things in our life – give way and bow down and submit to the Best thing- Jesus as Lord. This is radical but it is true Christianity.

61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”

62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

There was one who wanted to follow Jesus but first wanted to say goodbye to his family at home. But Jesus rebuked him too- saying that the one who follows him – must not look back on his old life- as if he can go and spend time (a prolonged time) saying goodbye before he then takes up his new life with Jesus and starts to be his disciple and follow Him. No, Jesus demands of His disciples immediate following, instant obedience- and a radical farewell to the old way of life.

And in Luke 14- Jesus again takes up this topic- so it must be a really important one.

33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

And then there is this word seen in Luke 14:33: ‘to renounce’ all.

In the Greek which is the original language of the New Testament this word is αποτάσσω – to express a formal farewell- or to renounce interest in something ie to give it up.

And Jesus says , in order to bring to a point ,in a nutshell, what it means to be Jesus disciple – is this – to renounce all else- to say farewell to everything else- and take up the mission of Jesus to a lost world.

Jesus says ‘give up your good things for the BEST thing!’

Poor sinner- Renounce all that you have been putting your hope in- your trust in- and solely put your trust in Christ Jesus – do you know Jesus? He is the unique one of a kind Son of God- who died for you and paid the price for your sins with His own blood- and He demands all those who follow Him to renounce everything else- even good things- for the Best thing- Himself !

But what of those things that we fear? Do they just disappear? No.. they don’t magically disappear, but the Lord trains those who follow Him to look to Him alone for their security – and He says ‘I take care of those who are mine!’

Matthew 6:33 ‘seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.’

So fear not- Christ follower- look to Jesus alone- throw off all those good things and pursue the BEST thing!

Saying Goodbye- to good things can be sweet- when it means that we are saying Hello to the BEST thing- Jesus!

So farewell- adou world! Give me Jesus ! He is the sweetest thing that my soul has ever tasted! Do you know my Jesus ? Saying farewell is only sweet- when one knows the sweetest thing that there is- to say goodbye to the world – and turn and then embrace Jesus! Oh there is nothing more sweet than this!!

Jesus now stands in front of you asking ‘will you renounce it all for me?’

He stands waiting for an answer. How will your respond? Is there anything which you are pursuing in place of Jesus- maybe it is selfish ambition- maybe a longing or drive to succeed in a career or business. Maybe it is a desire to meet spouse and raise a family. Maybe a desire to be well known for something. Many things are pursued in this life , that are even good things, but which Jesus demands that they be renounced- in order to pursue the BEST thing- He stands waiting to hear how you will respond! Will you renounce all to follow Him?

All of us- even His most faithful children have ties – soul ties some strong some weaker – but He demands that we turn to Him and internally investigate these things before His Face saying ‘search me and try me Lord and see if there be anything in me!’

He is requiring of us to say ‘only you Lord be praise!’ And He is today leading us to death again- to die to fame or recognition or applause- and to be satisfied in Him being exalted ! As the weeping woman in Luke 7:47 who worshiped Jesus while weeping over the forgiveness of her sins- and wetting his feet in adoration and drying them with her hair let us too be taken aback that Jesus has been so so gracious to us- and have graciously forgiven our sins and let us too not be demanding Him to fulfill anything for us- but let us adore Him as the Lord who has given us life and reigns supreme over all ! Let us align with John the Baptist who said ‘I must decrease snd He must increase!’ May this Lamb receive the reward of His suffering even and especially in the hard days of the pandemic- that He alone be our Hope and our very great reward.

May we be able to agree with the psalmist David in this ‘the lines have fallen upon me in pleasant places, indeed I have a blessed inheritance!’