What Does it Mean to Put your Hand on the Plow and Look Back? (Luke 9:62)

Christ has a stern and strong warning to those people who put their hands on the plow and look back. He said in Luke 9:62:

“No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

What did Christ mean by this statement? After all, our salvation might as well depend on upon this statement of Jesus/Yeshua. He said that if we are guilty of looking back after putting our hands on the plow, we will not be fit for the kingdom of God.

What Does it Mean to Put your Hand on the Plow and Look Back-.jpg

Source: Wikimedia Commons

What does putting your hands on the plow mean?

Putting your hands on the plow is a proverbial expression that signifies undertaking a new business. In this case, putting our hands on the plow means that we have decided that we are going to commit our lives to God. We believe that God will save us when we repent of our sins, get baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands.

Jesus lived in an agricultural age where His audience is very well familiar with what Christ exactly means. For a plowman to be successful in His work, he must concentrate on the job he started. He knows that the only way is forward and not being distracted by the things left behind.

In case the plowman starts to look back, his plow line would become crooked. If that happens, the field he is plowing will not yield a full harvest.

Why would he become unfit for the kingdom of God?

We are commanded to bear much fruit. When we keep on looking back, we won’t be able to plow our field properly and because of that, we will not have plenty of harvests.

God called us out of this world and once we responded to that call, we must never try to go back to the world. However, because of the many pleasures this world could offer – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – we tend to look back and be regretful of our calling.

When this happens, we are preventing ourselves from bearing much fruit. When God calls us to His church, we are expected to give our whole heart. We are called to love God with all our hearts, soul, and mind. Looking back prevents us from doing this.

Worst of all, we might even let go of the plow and go back to our old sinful ways. A man who did not finish the job God has given him will not be fit for God’s kingdom. How can God entrust the rulership in His Kingdom if we haven’t done our part?

The story of Elijah and Elisha

recite-x4wptpWhen Christ made this statement, His audience knew that Jesus was referring to the story of Elijah and Elisha.

God commanded Elijah to anoint Elisha as a prophet who will be his successor. Elijah found Elisha “plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before Him” (I Kings 19:19). Elisha immediately let go of his physical plow and to hold the spiritual plow that God has called him to do.

Elisha’s response was incredible. He “took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant” (verse 21).

In an agricultural society, it is unthinkable to kill your only source of income. Elisha is ready to forsake everything just to answer the call of God! He made it clear to everyone that he doesn’t intend to go back to his “old life.”

This is the type of commitment God expects from us, Christians. We must be ready to let go of everything if we are to obey God’s will for us. The good news is when we put our complete trust in God, He will never forsake us nor leave us. We can have the assurance that God will supply all our needs.

Are you still looking back?

If we are still looking back at our old ways, we must reconsider our priorities in life. If we regret answering God’s calling, then we might be in danger of being counted as unfit for the kingdom of God.

We must fully be CONVINCED that the best way to live this life is doing God’s will and purpose. Yes, this world may entertain or give us pleasure, but these pleasures are only temporary. God is the only Source of TRUE blessings – blessings that will last forever.

So let us not exchange our spiritual calling to something temporary and physical. Therefore, let us do our best in “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead!” (Philippians 3:13).

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8 thoughts on “What Does it Mean to Put your Hand on the Plow and Look Back? (Luke 9:62)

  1. I have always been looking for a thorough explanation about this verse and this morning this Scripture suddenly came to mind hence the search for a real spirit filled explanation and I found it.


    • Hi Margaret,

      I’m happy to know that this blog has helped you understand the deeper meaning of putting our hands on the plow. 🙂

      Let me know of other topics you might want me to cover in the future.

      Kind regards,


  2. It occured to me that Lot’s wife was turned to a pillar of salt for doing just that…would you say her act of looking back is a parallel warning from God?
    Thanks for your great insight.


  3. I have found this a very useful article and I have read it several times. I struggle with regret for a wasted opportunity and need to keep referring to this verse. Thank you.


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