DayBreaks for 11/25/11 – The Actions of a Disciple
So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away. 20 Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!” Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.” 21 So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant. – 1 Kings 19:19-21
This past week I was given new insight to this story by Kyle Idelman’s Not a Fan. I’d read and heard the story before, but never in this context. The great prophet Elijah (considered by the Jews themselves to be the greatest of the prophets), was told that he should select Elisha to be his disciple and successor as prophet in Israel. When Elijah finds him, Elisha is out plowing his fields with 12 yoke of oxen. This is a sign of Elisha’s great wealth. By far the vast majority of people in his time were too poor to own an ox, or if they had an ox, they had AN OX – just one. Not Elisha. Elisha as 12 yoke (at least 24!) of oxen. When Elisha receives the invitation to follow after Elijah and be his disciple, he doesn’t try to keep his business going on the side or negotiate the terms of his discipleship. Instead, Elisha slaughters all 24 oxen, puts all his plows together and burns them. The people of the community were invited to come and he barbecued the oxen and fed all his neighbors. He was making a very clear statement that he would not be looking backwards with longing. He was committing himself to give God his full attention – no holds barred, nothing held back. Elisha understood a truth that we try to avoid: that God desperately wants us, but he won’t share us.
But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62
Jesus, the very Son of God, has said to us, “Follow me!” Will we be placing limits on our discipleship? Or will we destroy and get rid of everything in our lives, IMMEDIATELY, to follow?
PRAYER: It is hard to let go of our wants, of our very selves, so that we can follow you without looking back. Give us the courage to burn our plows so there is nothing to entice us backwards! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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