Time after Pentecost Luke 14:25-33 September 4, 2022


“Christ, you know I love you.  Did you see I waved?  I believe in you and God so tell me that I’m saved.”  These lyrics are sung by the crowd in the folk-opera “Jesus Christ Superstar”.  They are in my heart today because so many think that is all there is to being a disciple of Jesus.  But in our gospel for today Jesus lays it on the line, there is a whole lot more to being a disciple than saying I am your hero.

Jesus has been preaching, teaching, healing, raising people from the dead and feeding the 5,000.  He has become a super-star doing all the right things to impress people.  So, Jesus finds it necessary to tell them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sister, yes, and even life itself cannot be my disciple.”  Whatever is Jesus saying?  Is he asking me to hate my family, my spouse, my children, my parents, even life itself?  I don’t think so.  Many times in Jesus’ day, a teacher would overstate a position to catch your attention.  What Jesus is saying for me is “I must be number one in your life.  All other commitments must come second, or you cannot be my disciple.”

I have a close friend who felt called by God to do parish ministry.  He went to college, graduated from seminary and had been called to his first church.  His mother opposed his career choice, so when he went home to share his excitement over being called by a church as its pastor, his mother responded, “We are not very interested in church around here.”  While it was painful to hear this message, the young pastor continued to serve knowing God through the church had called him to become a pastor.

Jesus strongly encourages commitment to family, but commitment to Jesus must be first in your life.

Martin Luther King once said, Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear.  To be a Christian one must take up his cross, with all its difficulties and agonizing and tension-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its mark upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which only comes through suffering.” The loves of my life must be rightly ordered.  Nothing can be before Jesus.

It is great to be excited about Jesus and celebrate what he has done on the Cross for us to know just how much God loves us, but true discipleship weighs the cost of following Jesus.

If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, you need to realize that it will cost you your life and normal human attitudes.

We live in a world where we are told you work hard, and you will be rewarded.  You carefully save your money, and you can make a down-payment on the home you have always wanted.  But in the world of being a disciple of Jesus you realize while that is good stewardship, you own nothing, all of it is a gift from God.

The amount of brain power you have to figure out life’s challenges is a gift to you from God.  Your very parents are a gift to you to help you grow up, how to walk, how to talk, the manners you have when you eat a meal or thank people for what they have done for you.  I will never forget meeting my father for the first time since I was a teenager when in the San Diego airport.  I will never forget identifying him by his walk.  There was this old man walking my way who walked just the way I walked. 

After hearing his voice, I realized it was my voice, just older.  It really blew me away later when I compared my telephone message that people hear when I am not able to answer and compared it to his. 

All of this is to say no one brings themselves up by their bootstraps.  Parents, teachers, mentors, brothers and sisters guided them from being a child to being an adult.

Once we recognize none of us is self-made, we can be humbler and realize everything you have, your talents, your abilities, life itself, is a gift to you from a good and gracious God.

My mother and stepdad made sacrifices to make it possible me to go to college.  When Ann’s father discovered Ann had committed herself to me to one day be my spouse, he picked up where my parents left off and helped me grow into mature adulthood.

All that I know about being a parish pastor is being taught to me by the churches I have served.

I am deeply impressed at the sacrifices a mother makes to carry a child full-term.  I am told the pain of bearing a child is greater than any man can bear.

If you have been married any amount of time, there are sacrifices needed by both married partners.  You are there for each other for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health as long as they both shall live.  In a healthy relationship spouses make sacrifices for each other the rest of their lives.

And guess what happens when you realize all you have is a good gift from God.  When you realize all you have has been given to you or shown you the way.  When you realize that Jesus is the head of your household and your life, life takes on a quality and joy that you never dreamt possible.

But the minute you think you are in charge, and all your stuff are your possessions, the chance for joy and realizing the fullness of life will evaporate.

Yes, Jesus lays it on the line.  Allow him to be number one in your life.  Realize all that you have is a good gift from God and your own is nothing, your life will take on the quality you would have never dreamt possible.  Amen.


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