The Plow of Elisha - What are you willing to do in committing to becoming a disciple?
[Darris McNeely] In this Beyond Today series on "To Be A Disciple", becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ, we've been talking about commitment. Last time, I misspelled the word so I want to make sure I get it corrected here right now, but we're still talking about commitment.
Last time we talked about Jesus making a statement to someone who came and saying that they would follow Him wherever He would go, and He made the comment in Luke chapter 9 that if we don't put our hand to the plow and keep it there, if we look back, He said we're not fit for the kingdom of God. The disciples understood exactly what Jesus meant when He said that. They would have instantly referenced a story from the Old Testament, the story of Elisha following the prophet Elijah, in 1 Kings chapter 19. And it's there I want to take us, and read the story of Elisha following Elijah – beginning in verse 19 and through verse 21.
Elijah was a great Old Testament prophet, and prior to his death, he was told by God to begin to train, mentor, disciple someone else – in this case, Elisha. And Elijah went and he found Elisha, and we are told here in 1 Kings 19 – chapter 19 and beginning in verse 19 – "He found Elisha, the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelve. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him" (1 Kings 19:19-21 1 Kings 19:19-21  So he departed there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle on him.
 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray you, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you. And he said to him, Go back again: for what have I done to you?
 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave to the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered to him.
American King James Version×). The mantle was his cloak and his coat and is a symbol of his authority as a prophet of God. Elisha, however, was plowing out in the field when Elijah found him. And so, when he gave the summons, "Elisha left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, 'Please, let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.'" Similar to what some had said to Jesus back in Luke chapter 9. "And he said to him –" Elijah did – "'Go back again, for what have I done to you?'" In other words, he was basically telling him, "Look, you better take this opportunity. Come with me now, and follow me, and burn all your bridges. Make this new commitment." Which he did. Elisha turned back, in verse 21, "and he took a yoke of oxen and he slaughtered them and he boiled their flesh, using the oxen's equipment, gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant."
Elisha became the servant of Elijah and he stayed with him until the end of Elijah's life. But by taking the oxen, taking the plow that he had, cutting up the plows, and slaughtering the oxen, and using the plows to build a fire and cook and eat the meat of the oxen, Elisha was basically burning his bridges with his past life. He now had a new calling, had a new vocation, and that was to be a disciple of Elijah – which, when you read through the rest of the account, Elisha accomplished. There's a lot of lessons from that.
But that's where Jesus got the example in Luke chapter 9, which we covered in an earlier Daily about this concept of discipling, when He told His disciples who wanted to follow Him to put your hand to the plow. They would've known about the plow of Elisha – where, when Elisha began to follow Elijah, he burned his plows, he killed his oxen, and he then had a new life to go forward.
That is what it takes to make a lifelong commitment to the life, and teachings, and service of Jesus Christ of Nazareth – to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. To follow, to let Him mentor us, we have to be like those in the Old Testament – this case, of Elisha with Elijah, and others, who were willing to forsake their previous life and follow God, follow His teachings, wherever they would go – in this case, with Elijah.
And that's really what it takes when it comes to the commitment to be a disciple. And so it's important to analyze this matter of commitment in any part of our life – the commitment that we have to work, to a husband, to a wife, to another personal relationship of friends that we might have, and certainly in a calling and a commitment to God, and to His way of life, and to His truth.
When we are able and willing to put our hands to the plow, and to do like Elisha did – to basically sever what it takes and to make that commitment to follow God – then we are ready to be His disciple. Then we are ready to begin to learn what it means to be a disciple.
That's BT Daily. Join us next time.