Our God is great; listen to His words and understand!
Luke 14:25-35 is the parable about the cost of being a disciple. Most of chapter 14 is about the “Kingdom of God on earth” and “life as a follower of Jesus”
A large crowd continued to follow Jesus to Jerusalem. Some believe Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to conquer the Roman Government and reestablish God’s blessings on the Jewish people. They expected a leader that would defeat the Roman government. The folks in the crowd had seen Jesus perform many miracles. They had seen Jesus challenge and confront the synagogue leaders and their hypocrisy. You and I know why Jesus is headed there, don’t we? We remember his entry into Jerusalem each Palm Sunday and His crucifixion later that week.
Jesus turned to the large crowd and said to them, “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. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
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? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
Do you suppose that these words got the crowd’s attention when Jesus said: “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters cannot be my disciple. Jesus was speaking in a way called “hyperbole”. Jesus is exaggerating in order to “shock the crowd” and get their attention. There are other instances when Jesus’ used hyperbole. You may remember when Jesus said in Matthew 5, verse 30: And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your hands than for your whole body to go to hell. We can all agree that Jesus did not intend for anyone to interpret this literally.
So, in today’s reading, Jesus does not want anyone to hate their family. But Jesus is saying, you need to do some radical re-ordering of your priorities.
In Luke 14, verse 33, Jesus says: “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” Does Jesus want you to give up everything you own? No, Jesus was using hyperbole to get your attention. Jesus is saying if you don’t do some radical surgery to how you think about the possessions that God has given you, it may ruin your life. We have all seen arguments about money and land and “stuff” that cause some troubles in families?
God loves us. He sent His Son Jesus to help us understand how to live in the Kingdom of God on earth. We put God last, or not first.
As our Hebrew brothers and sisters, who had been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years as they prepared to enter the Promised Land, God told them, in Deuteronomy 30, verse 19 and 20: “Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life”
And Jesus is saying the very same to us today. Jesus says: You cannot become my disciple unless you do the right thing instead of the easy thing. Jesus will call us to say “Yes” when our sinful human nature wants to say “No.” And Jesus will call us to say “No” when our sinful desires wants us to say “Yes.” Following Jesus can be painful. Following Jesus can be costly. But I would preach to you today, that doing the “easy thing” and avoiding the cost of discipleship, is more costly, and more painful. Jesus wants only the best abundant life for us. Putting money and possessions higher in your priority list than loving God and neighbor will ruin your life.
Jesus calls you and I to be the salt of the earth. Jesus calls you and I to “see” our money as a gift from God to feed the poor. Jesus calls you and I to “see” the poor as members of our family. Jesus calls you and I to be the salt of the earth.
In verse 34, Jesus says: “Salt is good for seasoning. but if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” I say to you that Jesus said that because he loves us.
Mother Teresa said: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve.”
The price of discipleship is costly. The price of not being a disciple with the right set of priorities is much more costly. God loves us and wants only the best. God wants us to choose the ways of living that lead to abundant life.
Our condolences go to Kathy and Wayne Jordan after her mother, Deloris Wilson, went to be with Jesus in Heaven. Deloris was a great lady who kept two things first in her life: her Lord Jesus Christ and her great family.
Barbara Krause will celebrate her birthday on September 13th. And Robert Hall has a birthday party on September 17th.
The German Hymnfest will be held Sunday, September 22TH, at Hilda UMC.