September 4, 2016
Jesus seems to be getting annoyed with the crowds
that have been following him.
He was comforting to the 5000 or so in Chapter 6,
telling them that the meek were blessed.
He was feeding another large group in chapter 9.
But then in chapter 12, the crowds got an earful
when he told them that he didn’t come to bring peace,
but he came to bring division,
then he called them hypocrites.
Now there’s a crowd following him again and he tells them
That they should hate their whole family
or they shouldn’t bother chasing after him.
It’s almost as if he’s trying to get rid of them.
Or at least weed out the idly interested ones from the committed ones.
But he’s telling them the truth: There is a cost to being a disciple.
Now, we Lutherans love talk about free grace
and the unconditional love of God
and that is absolutely true we are forgiven and loved
just because God does that. It’s God’s way.
But once we know that and start to live in gratitude
to the one who has saved us, there are costs
which Lutherans don’t really spend a lot of time talking about.
Jesus says to the crowds,
Let me tell you about these costs now, because
I don’t want a bunch of half way followers who
chicken out when the going gets tough,
I want all of you.
So he tells them about the costs.
There’s this church on the way from Austin to Dallas
And it used to have this big sign on the front of it,
that you could see from the freeway
“30 minute worship, guaranteed!”
Now there’s nothing wrong with a 30 minute worship service.
It’s no worse than a 60 minute worship guaranteed.
But having a advertisement like that is kind of promising that your
relationship with Jesus will only take 30 minutes out of your life.
Or 60 minutes or two hours or whatever.
You can get this whole discipleship thing over and
done with in little or no time.
This won’t hurt a bit, you can just pop in and pop out
All God wants from you is to 30 minutes and a little money.
I can give the minimum effort and still get all the benefits.
It sounds good I guess, it’s sold quite a few people
since the sanctuary is pretty large.
But this is basically false advertising based on Jesus statements
to the crowds here. He’s saying to them, there will be a cost.
And it’s not just going to be 30 minutes of your weekend
and a few dollars out of your bank account.
Often in Christianity, we forget about our own sacrifices.
We focus on Jesus sacrifice, on his cross.
We say things like “he paid it all for me”
“The price for my sins was paid.”
It’s as if because Jesus was crucified,
all we’re asked to do is to be comfortable.
But Jesus tells us that as followers,
we will be picking up our own crosses.
There will be a cost.
And that cost might be pretty high.
“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"
Now, no church between Austin and Dallas
has a big sign with this on it.
That is not good advertising.
Now why would Jesus tell people this anyway?
Families are good, fathers and brothers
and sisters and children are seen by some as
the pinnacle of commitment and Christian life.
Now I don’t like it when we preachers say that
Jesus really didn’t mean what he said.
But I really do think that Jesus is using hyperbole
he’s exaggerating to prove a point here.
I don’t know that he wants us to actually hate
our father and mother,
wife and children and brother and sister.
Jesus has said many other places to love one another.
Even to love our enemies.
And I’m sure family is included in that.
Sometimes they’re the ones we need to learn to love.
So I don’t think that Jesus is telling us to hate anyone actively:
to stop talking to them, or talk about them behind their backs,
sign them up for embarrassing magazine subscriptions,
or egg their houses.
But Jesus is saying that being a disciple
sometimes does costs us our relationship with our families.
the path that God leads us on sometimes puts us at odds with
the people we love the most.
Sometimes as a disciple, we are asked to put God’s will
before the will of our families.
Jesus is telling us to be ready for that choice.
In Jesus time, family was everything.
Blood lines, kinship, country, common lineage, descendants,
Blood lines, kinship, country, common lineage, descendants,
were the most important thing.
Things were basically black and white.
You were part of our clan or race or you weren’t.
But Jesus was in the process of creating a family that was not based
on race, or nationality, or religion, or blood line.
Jesus was creating a family that is based on the love of God
which reaches across these lines and knows no boundaries.
Things were no longer black and white when you followed Jesus
into this new family.
The divisions were being blurred
The loyalties that Jesus
outlined were to the larger family,
the commitments of Jesus
followers were to the
least among them,
to the poorest, to the outcast,
to the most rejected ones,
which often meant
taking up for the one
outside your own family or clan
or even against your own family or clan.
And that could lead to a division with
father, mother, sister, brother, or child, cousin, or everyone you know.
That could lead to losing your identity,
your security, “all of your possessions”, as Jesus puts it.
And if the people in the crowds couldn’t handle that,
then they should just stop following.
Unlike most salesmen, Jesus is just telling us all the possible costs up front.
In Jesus time, making a choice for God’s family
over and against your own family, or country,
or race could be immediately costly.
And today, that risk is still there.
As Christians we are asked to recognize the humanity
and rights of those different from us, whoever we are.
To be compassionate to those of other races,
other countries, other backgrounds and religions.
We’re asked to stand up for the rights of immigrants, refugees,
the poor, the hungry, the underfed, the underrepresented.
At the least this could lead to those uncomfortable discussions
at Thanksgiving. At the most it could cost us even more.
Jesus wants us to consider that and be ready for that.
Following Jesus is not just a hobby or a project.
This call of Jesus is a way of life. And it costs.
It costs us our time, our commitment,
our status, our pride, our comfort, our security, our possessions.
But using Jesus math, the more we give,
the more we receive in treasures that can’t be counted.
As followers of Jesus, we know we are part of One Human Family.
We are not divided by race or
country or denomination or even religion.
All that God has created is meant to be joined together.
Jesus was crucified by those who depended
on people being separated and divided.
Jesus went to the cross to reconcile all people.
Let us take up our own crosses and follow him.