Posted on Wed, Sep 21, 2016
September 4, 2015
16th Sunday after Pentecost
Luke 14:25-33 – “How Much does that Cross Weigh?”
The Cost of Discipleship
25 Now large crowds were travelling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
I think my mother was a prophet … I remember the first time I told her that I wanted to be a missionary when I grew up. She essentially told me to really think about “counting the cost of that decision!” I would make much more money if I became a doctor or lawyer! I can’t say she was a big fan of my decision about becoming a missionary. Frankly, at the time, I was too naïve or too much of an idealist to even think about choosing a career based on estimated income, and I am very thankful for that. My income was just enough to pay off student loans, and my life was as rewarding and more adventurous than I could have imagined.
We really should begin today’s message from Jesus with the proclamation, “For those who have ears to hear!” Jesus is speaking to all the people who have been following him, not just to the ones who have already been called his disciples and know a little something about what it means to ‘follow Jesus’ (so far).
The substance of today’s text is a continuation of Jesus comments around the banqueting table, as a People of God, as an act of faith, we are commanded to be a welcoming people, a forgiving people, a people of compassion and justice. This is not something to be taken lightly and Jesus especially makes this clear to the leaders of the faith. Remember how this message begins with the healing of the man with dropsy, or edema, on the Sabbath? Remember how Jesus ‘challenges’ the Pharisees by asking them if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath? And since they had no answer, Jesus healed the man; THEREFORE BY BEING HEALED BY JESUS, HE WAS RECREATED INTO A MAN MADE ‘CLEAN’ TO WORSHIP AND PRAY IN THE SYNAGOGUE; whereas before he wasn't welcome because a law the Pharisees gave authority in Leviticus that forbade him from being in any place of prayer or worship, or even close to a Pharisee, priest, Levite or scribe. Then, Jesus scolds a Pharisee for only inviting those that can repay him for the invitation, when he should have been inviting all those the religious leaders would consider, “unclean, unworthy, and excluded by the law,” therefore never to be welcomed to one of the religious leaders banquets. Being welcoming, forgiving and accepting is a major aspect of living your faith, that is why Jesus actually ‘scolds’ this leader of the faith.
All throughout the Old Testament, we hear story after story about God’s people loosing their way and being distracted by power, status, wealth, ego and a false sense of security; for example, because they believe that just because they are called the People of God and live in the Promised Land, they will never be judged or considered slaves… they lost their identity as people freed from slavery, and are now called to be faithful People of God by having eyes to see, and ears to hear the needs and cries of the poor, the alien, the orphan and the widow. For too long, they have been obsessed with the laws and traditions that would SEPARATE them from the poor and lost, rather than being a redeemed people strengthened to be God’s people full of compassion and a zeal for justice. THEREFORE, THEY HAD CHAINED THEMSELVES TO THE LAW OF MOSES, NOT THE LAW OF LOVE, AND THEREFORE THEY HAD RETURNED TO BECOMING SLAVES AGAIN.
We need to remember that Jesus is God incarnate, the word of Jesus supersedes the Law because in Jesus’ words and warnings, God has called them out on their self centered, myopic, and insular way of looking at their faith.
Before we get lost in all the radical, uncompromising and even fearsome words of today’s text we need to remember the words found in Deuteronomy 4:39:
39So acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
Jesus is not being strict or legalistic; He is reminding the Pharisees that they are called by God to be servants of God, not enforcers of law and code!
So, when Jesus talking about those wishing to be disciples, those who wish to walk in the discipline of Jesus, He is stressing to them that from now on their help, hope, trust, faith, strength, guidance will come from … Jesus.
Think about the story about the rich young ruler who, asked Jesus, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 19Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20You know the commandments: “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.” ’ 21He replied, ‘I have kept all these since my youth.’ 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money* to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ 23But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. 24Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’
This is the context for today’s text, not the emphasis on ‘hating mother and father,” and even “life itself!”
Jesus is talking all about those attachments that draw us away from the benefits of a life of faith!
We live lives that are so full of distractions, demands, false hopes and many false promises. When I think of the people that I see as “Blessed,” they are the ones with a quiet, humble yet very personal faith clearly set on Jesus and the promises Jesus gives us. Paul Kilty is one of those people; he is one of my Bible Study students at Hawaii Kai Retirement Community. He can’t move or speak very well, but his is man with a faith that has carried him through his life, and brings him peace and joy everyday in his very aged body. After Bible Study, he is the one that said today’s Gospel text reminded him of the story about the rich young ruler, and how he was more attached to his wealth than have eyes to see or ears to hear about the riches offered through faith.
Before I wake up, my mind is already filled with thoughts about all there is to do for the day, who is sick; who is looking for work, shelter, food, or medicine; who is in the hospital or hospice; what events are coming up and what reports or articles do I need to write; what shall I plan for confirmation, the youth this Fall, OYEA events throughout the year? My mind races until I stop my mind with a prayer and concentrating on my breath.
Then, I step outside with my dog Brewski into the morning air and the smell of dew covered grass… it is so refreshing and fills my heart with a feeling of gratitude. I am suddenly refocused because this is how my heart and faith need to be. All these things demanding my attention, and the curse of instant communication distract me from the truth that God and the Gospel of Joy is always near! If I am lucky, a verse or two will enter my mind like; “be still and know that I am God” brings me back into my proper relationship with the world. I am not the center of the world; I am only a recipient of the goodness God has filled within our world. I am only a vessel of that love, and a proclaimer of that good news. That is who I am.
As I walk along, the morning grass, the flowers and the smell of life on the mountain brings me back to a feeling of connectedness with all the live God has created around me. This feeling helps me to be connected to all the love that there is and all that has been. As I walk along, I will notice the occasional little flowers that is sprouting out of the broken concrete. The flower is a message from God that faith can even live within the temporary creations of human kind. Life can be hard as concrete… but even concrete cracks, breaks and gives way to returning to sand. Concrete is human-made and therefore transient, impermanent, always fading away… but that flower (blind and cynical people may call them weeds), is a special message to eyes that can see, ears that can hear and hearts that can believe. God is that flower breaking through the crack in the concrete, and God is alive, right before my eyes.
It is imperative that we do not allow our minds to be distracted by all things that may block us from seeing, hearing, and feeling God’s presence that is meant for our spiritual growth. God’s presence and faithfulness gives us life, and hope that is more powerful than despair and death itself.
Don't be distracted by the apparent strictness of Jesus’ words… be thankful that Jesus is clear on the importance of walking in the discipline, the joy, the zeal for justice, and the true meaning given to us as people called by Jesus to follow. “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace” 1 Corinthians 14:33
No messages have been posted.
You must first create an account to post.