8 September 2019
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned 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.’
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? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.
So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
The table talk has ended.
The host was glad to see him go.
As we heard last Sunday,
Jesus had schooled
The leader of the Pharisees and his invited friends
In a stinging lecture
Around his Sabbath day dinner table.
Their hubris had taken a hit.
Their selfish lack of charity
Revealed for all the world to see
Which master they truly served:
It wasn’t the Lord.
As Willie Nelson is known to sing,
Jesus was “On the Road Again.”
More than mere movement of geography,
Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem has symbolic meaning.
God’s redemptive plan had been set in motion.
Every step Jesus took
Was God’s plan for humankind being revealed.
Jesus moved south:
Teaching, preaching, preparing his disciples for his imminent absence.
Jesus moved south:
Healing, restoring, casting out demons, unbinding those bound by Satan.
Every step brings Jesus nearer to the cross,
Nearer to his suffering,
Nearer to redemption and forgiveness of sins,
Nearer to God’s surprising gift that lay three days beyond the grave.
Jesus moved south and the crowds grew larger:
Some curious to see the latest flavor of traveling evangelist,
Others hopeful their messianic expectations were being fulfilled with revolutionary uprising
and Rome would be kicked out by civil insurrection,
Still others gathering just to see what the fuss was all about.
Everyone loves a parade.
The intersection of the crowds expectation
and Jesus’ divine fulfillment of God’s greater plan
Is coming to a violent collision.
The masses who hope for an easy pass to heaven
are about to get a bucket of ice water thrown in the face.
The word “Hate” usually isn’t considered
one of the fruits of the Spirit.
“Hate” isn’t a word we usually associate with Jesus,
Yet, here it is, in all it’s Lukan glory.
“Hate” is the ice water no one saw coming.
Hate, or Miseó (μισέω), from the Greek,
Is about to separate the crowd
Like grain separated from the chaff.
“You want to follow me?” Jesus asks,
Transcending geography, culture, and time.
“You want to follow me?” Jesus asks us today,
Demanding our undivided attention.
Hate father and mother;
Hate spouse and children;
Hate brothers and sisters;
Hate your own life; and
While he was at it, he could have added
Hate flag and country, too.
The first of three conditions of discipleship is hate.
Don’t know about you,
But Jesus preaching hate
Doesn’t sit very well with me.
We’re talking family here.
We’re talking patriotism here.
Jesus, the God who creates life, hating life itself?
Take a deep breath.
There must be more to the story.
Miseó, as used here,
Is not the opposite of love.
Language scholars tell us
The word Luke uses here
Is a comparative,
Exposing contrasts to make a point,
To renounce one choice in favor of another.
(Strong’s Concordance, as found at: https://biblehub.com/greek/3404.htm)
Jesus is calling all would-be and experienced disciples
To make a moral choice,
Elevating commitment to him
Over and above commitment to everything which we hold dear;
Even our own life.
Instead of country first,
Instead of family first,
Jesus’ first condition of discipleship is:
Like the allies terms of surrender,
Jesus is uncompromising.
Can Washington or Albany
Forgive your sins or save your soul?
Family can and should be
the most loving, caring, social support one can have.
But I have yet to meet a parent, spouse, sibling, or child
That redeems us from judgment
or saves us into eternal life.
“Jesus First” is the Lord’s enlistment poster.
So, Jesus just lost half the crowd.
He’s about to lose half of what’s left
When his second condition for discipleship is deeply considered.
“Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me
cannot be my disciple.” (14:27)
Expecting death by crucifixion,
Jesus knew how the machinery of capital punishment
made mincemeat of all those sucked into its path.
Luke, writing from an after-the-fact, historical point of view,
Intentionally keeps the burner on high,
For his reality, and that of the first century Church,
Jesus’ condition for all disciples
Was, and remains to this day,
Be prepared to give up your life.
Live prepared to die.
Deny my self-interest
To advance the Lord’s interest.
Deny my self-preservation
To pick up my cross, and
Be crucified right there
alongside with Jesus.
Martyrdom is what love looks like
In a Jesus first economy.
The Apostle Paul wrote
to the fledgling, persecuted church in Rome,
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The Lord of resurrection
Does not allow death to win.
The temptation is to grow tired,
Lose faith, and
set down the cross of Jesus.
The temptation is to walk away,
Fearful of death,
Uncertain of eternal life.
“It’s just too hard,”
“Jesus demands too much,”
we’ve heard many complain.
“I’m not certain that even I have it in me,” I sometimes wonder
In a momentary crisis of faith.
Consider the cost.
Am I ready to die for the one who died for me?
Only a fool would fail to consider the cost of discipleship.
Consider the cost.
Think of the risks, consequences, and benefits.
Family will laugh and friends will pretend like they never knew us.
That’s okay by me;
I’d rather hang out with Jesus followers anyways.
When I love God and love neighbors,
Neighbors become my extended family.
Consider the cost.
Reflect on the power of God’s love
That binds us to Christ,
That is just as uncompromising,
That never lets us go.
Is it worth the risk?
It is for me.
One half of the remaining quarter
Probably meant there weren’t many willing candidates for discipleship left in the crowd following Jesus.
Jesus is salting the crowd really good.
One last thing, Jesus tells us.
It’s kind of like his third condition of discipleship is an afterthought.
“None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
Here we are headed into the season of
stewardship, pledge cards, and fund drives.
“Isn’t that convenient, Pastor Todd?” you may sarcastically ask.
Jesus isn’t asking for ten percent;
Jesus wants it all.
There goes the rest of the crowd,
Leaving the remaining few
standing alone before our Lord,
Hat in hand,
Weighing the cost of following Jesus.
This radical renunciation of money, possessions, and things
Caused the rich young ruler to walk away from Jesus.
At the same time,
Such a strict condition of discipleship isn’t made of Zacchaeus.
Jesus didn’t demand he give everything away.
Zacchaeus, exposed of his sin,
Was convicted to volunteer to Jesus
One half of his possessions to be given to the poor, and
To repay fourfold to anyone who he defrauded. (19:8)
Jesus wants it all,
But it isn’t all about money.
It’s about our heart;
Where our allegiance lies.
Soon to come in a future Gospel passage,
(Quite possibly next week!)
Jesus concludes his story about a dishonest manager by teaching,
“No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Is Jesus worth the cost?
He is for me.
Beloved members, friends, guests and visitors of our Rush United Methodist family
Do not fear the conditions of discipleship.
We can calculate the cost and make the sacrifice,
Because not one of us,
Has the sufficient strength of faith or purity of heart to be worthy of our King.
We can pay the price,
Because we are in this journey of faith together.
We are Christ’s Body;
The embodiment of God’s love.
We are strength and support for one another.
Have no fear.
Together, God can get every last one of Christ’s disciples
Through the eye of any old needle.
We can do this,
Because redemption and salvation
Have already been won.
Victory and life have been won
By Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Count the cost.
Jesus to die for.
Jesus without any reservations.
Is Jesus worth the cost?
He is for me.
Join me, will you?
Let’s travel this journey together.
One thought on ““Counting the Costs””
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot