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9-8-19 Sermon

13th Sunday after Pentecost  Luke 14:25-35

 

We seem to be buried by an avalanche of forms. The paper work for Medical procedures, insurance, or purchasing a home uses up several trees (even in our paperless society!). Even mundane activities require the signing of disclaimers. That being the case, do you read all of those forms before you sign them?

 

Do you read all the jargon before downloading a new app?

 

In the Gospel today, Jesus encourages his followers to read all of the paperwork before they sign on the dotted line to be a disciple. Here’s the dilemma: what do you do if you want to be a follower of Jesus, but know that you can’t meet the demands?

 

Jesus tells the members of the crowd about a person who wants to build a tower but isn’t sure if you have the funds to do so. Large crowds were following Jesus. Some people were simply curious. Others were fair weather followers. A few truly wanted to become Jesus’ disciples. Jesus’ words caused everyone to consider the cost of Christianity. That’s the reason Jesus talks about “disassociation yourself from your family.”

 

It is in this context that Jesus is warning about the consequences of becoming one of His disciples. Jesus warns that Christians will be pressured to abandon their faith in Him. Society as a whole, members of our own families, even our own thoughts betray us. Society threatens physical violence, legal, and financial ruin. Our families threaten to remove emotional support. Our own thoughts even deceive us. For many it’s just easier to leave Jesus behind.

The enemies of Christianity are on the attack causing many hardships we experience in life-- sickness, accidents, financial setbacks. People often think they are the crosses we must bear. But Jesus isn’t referring to the consequences of our sin, as the cross—He’s speaking specifically about the cost of being a Christian. Anyone who confesses CHRIST to the world will be hated, because the world hates CHRIST.

Many of the early believers suffered mocking and flogging, chains and imprisonment, even death. Followers of CHRIST may lose all earthly belongings and even life itself for the sake of CHRIST.

False teachers—then and now, tell us to have faith in ourselves… think positive thoughts…you can take control of your own salvation by your outlook on life… and to this the Lord will one day say, “Don’t be foolish! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that the will use all its resources against us – even our own families – even our own desire to survive. So ties to anyone or anything contrary to CHRIST, means our very souls will be in jeopardy. And what’s truly alarming is that none of us have the ability to surrender all we have and who we are, in order to be faithful. It’s just something we can’t do alone. We do not have the power in ourselves to deny our family and follow CHRIST.

Thanks be to God, we have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, who was tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus is our high priest who experienced the same attacks that we do and triumphed over them.

Did Jesus’ family to attack Him? Most certainly! In the Gospel of Mark 3:21: Then [Jesus] went home, and the crowd gathered again…and when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

 

Later on Jesus said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Faithfulness and commitment come at a high cost. But we must always remember Jesus death was not just persecution for being faithful; His death was the sacrifice that made us part of God’s family.

The cross we earned as a consequence to our own sin, Jesus took for us. Jesus is triumphant over sin, death, and the devil. His triumph is offered to all people through faith. By faith, we are adopted into God’s family, promised by Jesus before He ascended to heaven: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. I will never leave you nor forsake you” –not now or eternally. Evil has no conscience. It will attack us through family and friends – even our very own bodies betray us. Yet we need not fear, for the Holy Spirit sustains faith in us in spite of the world’s persecution.

It's only by the grace of God that we can be faithful to Him. It is by the grace of God and His promise that He will be with us here on earth, and in time, we will be with Him forever in eternity.