The Orthodox Pages


























Question 92.

Dear Father
I saw this verse in one of your church printouts for 22/11/14 and wanted you to please explain it to me in simpler terms.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the Plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.
Thanking you on advance.

Answer to Question 92.

Dear Mary,
Thanks for the question.
To understand the verse we must see in what content the Lord said these words. The reading we heard on that Saturday referred to various people who said they wanted to follow him. To the first Jesus said that foxes have holes and birds have nests, in other words the animals have their own kind of home, but he doesn't have a home where he can go home to every night and lay his head to sleep. If you want to follow me do you have the strength to abandon everything to follow me and sleep wherever the road will take us. To the next person Jesus said follow me. Probably Jesus saw in him someone with a strong spiritual character, but the disciple wasn't quite ready to follow him immediately. He first wanted to go home to bury his father. This could mean that his father had just recently died and he was on his way for the funeral or that he wanted to return home until his father died and then when he had no more family responsibilities he would return. But Jesus said to him let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. Here Jesus is speaking of two kinds of deaths the first having a spiritual meaning and the second actual death. The spiritual dead are those who have no desire to progress spiritually. They are like the dead because true life is to be with God. So because they are dead let them bury those who physically die, but you because you are spiritual and alive, go and do God's work by preaching the kingdom of God.
Another person said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. The problem with this person is that when he returns home he will fall into temptation. His family will plead with him to not abandon them and to stay with them. He will be torn emotionally and among the tears and emotional blackmail he will probably be persuaded. After these examples Jesus said: No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Ploughing a field in them days was similar to how many farmers in poor countries still plough their fields; the plough is driven by animals, usually cows or horses and the actual direction of the plough is guided by the farmer holding the plough from behind. To go in a direct line the person has to keep his eyes on the plough and any distraction like looking back will result in the groove in the ground becoming wonky. In spiritual terms the persons following Christ must always look ahead with total commitment and with their whole heart and like the plough they must progress spiritually in a straight line. The spiritual life is difficult requiring that we abandon the ways and spirit of this world; so if we have began this difficult road and then at some time we look back desiring the life and pleasures of the world we had before then our heart is no longer with Christ and so we are not worthy of the kingdom of God.

With love in Christ

Fr. Christopher