Elisha has met Elijah. He’s been given an invitation and the cloak has been offered to him. Now he has to decide if he’s going to accept it or reject it. What happens from here is all up to Elisha. But there was no way he could pretend he didn’t know about it.
1 Kings 19:20a “Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah.”
It looks like Elijah didn’t decide right away. If he had, he would have been walking with Elijah. But the Bible says, “Elisha… ran after Elijah,” trying to catch up to him. After putting his cloak around Elisha, Elijah moved on while Elisha stayed back thinking about it.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28-33)
Elisha had to decide if he was willing to give up everything to follow Elijah. “My future seems pretty secure. So why do I feel like everything he’s offering to me is worth more than everything I already have? What is it that’s been missing from my life? Why does he make me feel so complete, so perfectly satisfied for the first time in my life?
It didn’t take Elisha very long to decide what to do with the invitation he had just received. Jesus found us. He called us. He’s placed His cloak around us. The cloak fits, but will I wear it? We either have to wear it and follow Him or give it back and stay home. We each have to make a decision and then act on it.
1 Kings 19:20b “”’Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,’ he said, ’and then I will come with you.’ ‘Go back’, Elijah replied, ‘What have I done to you?’”
This Hebrew sentence structure is a little awkward to translate into English, but Elijah is actually saying, “Go back home and say good-bye. That’s the right thing to do.” The Lord’s not trying to separate us from or turn us against our families. But we can’t use family as an excuse for not following Him. We’ve got to decide for ourselves whether we will or will not follow Jesus regardless what the rest of our family may choose to do. It may have taken Elisha a little time to decide, but once he made up his mind, there was no stopping him, no turning back.
1 Kings 19:21a “So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate.”
Before Elisha met Elijah, he was plowing a field with his twelve pair of oxen. After he decided to follow Elijah, he slaughtered the oxen, burned the plow and ate the meat. That’s a perfect example of total consecration, complete surrender. Elijah completely got rid of, in fact he totally destroyed, everything his old life stood for. He couldn’t go back to his old life even if he wanted to because it wasn’t there anymore.
“Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ… I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
If we don’t like church and we don’t like Christians, we don’t want to fully surrender, because we’re afraid we’re going to have to give up too many of the things we still love to do, we’re never going to be His disciple. If we’re still in love with our old life, if we’re still content with who we are and satisfied with what we have, if someone has to make us give up the things we still love, we’re never going to be His disciple.
Elijah didn’t tell him he had to do that. No one made him do it. Elisha slaughtered the oxen and burned the plow because he didn’t want them anymore. He didn’t need them anymore. That part of his life was over. That part of him was dead now. He traded it all in for a new life, a fresh start, a new outlook on life and a new future.
Sadly, unlike Elisha, many people are coming to church and saying, “Yes, I’ll follow you Jesus. But do you mind if I go home and pack a bag? I want to be a Christian; I want to follow you but I want to bring some of those old things with me. Is that OK with you, Jesus? The problem with trying to drag those old treasures behind us is that, after a while, the bag gets so heavy we can’t keep up.
Jesus and His other disciples get so far ahead of us that, before you know it, we’re lost again. Our bag of old pleasures, old habits, old desires and old attitudes became too heavy to drag along. We expected Jesus to walk with us. We thought we could set the pace. But we soon learned that it doesn’t work that way. If we want to be one of His disciples, we have to keep up with Him. Here’s another important element of discipleship.
1 Kings 19:21b “Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.”
When Elisha decided to follow Elijah, he became Elijah’s attendant, Elijah’s servant. Often Christians make the mistake of thinking that once we decide to follow Jesus, He becomes our attendant, our personal servant, someone whose job it is to take care of our needs and serve us night and day; to make sure we always have something to eat, a nice place to live and keep us safe and healthy.
In all of the times the Apostle Paul wrote letters from a Roman jail cell, he never once referred to himself as a prisoner or a slave of Rome. He always referred to himself as a prisoner and a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Fulfilling Christ’s desire and carrying out His commands was the whole reason Paul was alive. He said, “For to me, living means living for Christ and dying (for Christ) is even better.” (Philippians 1:2 NLT)
“Though I am free, and belong to no one, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (I Corinthians 9:19)
That’s probably why the apostle Paul reached so many people for Christ and started all those churches. Maybe it wasn’t his preaching or his personality. It certainly wasn’t because of his good looks because history records Paul as being a strange and unattractive man. Maybe it wasn’t because of the miracles, maybe it was because Paul lived to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and he made himself a servant to everyone else in order to win them for Christ. I wonder what would happen if we all decided to do that? Lord willing, I hope you’ll join me here again next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s word with pastor Buj.