59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62
Have you ever tried to drive your car forward by looking in the rear view mirror? It should be simple because you can see where you have been and the road just goes straight on from there. Right?
Not too many farmers plow anymore, but those that do will tell you, that you need to fix your eye on a spot at the end of the field and drive to it. This will give you the long straight furrow that you need on the first pass. If you spend your time looking over your shoulder there is no way you will get it right.
Jesus is calling folks to follow Him and they keep giving Him excuses instead. Jesus uses the metaphor of the plowman to show how anyone who wants to follow Him must look forward rather than to their past. He declares in Vs 62 that no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom.
This can be misread to read that they will not enter the kingdom. But rather it means being fit for use by God, for His work.
When we look back there are at least two ways for us to become ineffective. First if we look back at our successes we are tempted to rest on our laurels. We may think, why work so hard when I have done so much already. The other way the enemy attacks us is to remind us of our failures. If we look back at them, we may become discouraged and just give up.
Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13-14 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. If we want to stay effective for Christ we must forget the past and press on toward our ultimate goal.