Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
From Rev. Kelly Bedard
1. Negative family ties: a
pre-occupation with either pleasing or rebelling from relatives
2. The sole pursuit of possessions
and power for personal gain and security
1. Positive family ties: a willingness
to serve and even die for God and His cause(s)
2. Continually on the journey of
radically inclusive love
1. Sounds like a pretty daunting task. Anyone who thinks
they are up to this challenge is probably cruising for a fall. It would be
appropriate to pray for one's self. Here is a portion of a Covenant Prayer in
the Wesleyan Tradition (United Methodist Hymnal, #607):
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low by thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me having nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
2. On one hand, our text [Luke 4:15-24] repeats the
necessity of putting Jesus first--before everything else in our lives. Following
Jesus is extremely demanding. On the other hand, "street people" are
invited to and come into the banquet with great ease. The only
"demand" was to come and eat and enjoy the feast that had been
prepared. (Brian Stoffregen)
3. "Hate" is a Semitic expression meaning
"to turn away from, to detach oneself from," rather than our
animosity-laden understanding. In Genesis, we read in one verse that Jacob loved
Rachel more than Leah (29:30), but in the next verse it literally says that Leah
was hated ("unloved" in NRSV, see also v. 33). Leah was not hated like
we usually use the word, but Jacob simply loved her less than he loved Rachel.
Jacob didn't have an intense dislike for Leah. In fact, he had seven children
with her after these verses! (There must have been something he liked about
her!) Note that Matthew 10:37 interprets Jesus' saying: "Whoever loves
father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or
daughter more than me is not worthy of me." The parallel sayings in the
Gospel of Thomas use "hate." (Stoffregen)
4. Some family systems theory thinking may be appropriate
to this section. One's identity can be so wrapped up in pleasing (or rebelling
against) the family that the person has no real self-identity. With such a
person, his or her identity is determined by one's family (or friends or even
one's enemies). It could be that Jesus doesn't want disciples who are people who
just go along with the crowd, but Jesus seeks disciples who are committed
individuals--those who are aware of the costs of following him--and choose to
follow anyway. (Stoffregen)
5. The language of cross bearing has been corrupted by
overuse. Bearing a cross has nothing to do with chronic illness, painful
physical conditions, or trying family relationships. It is instead what we do
voluntarily as a consequence of our commitment to Jesus Christ. Cross bearing
requires deliberate sacrifice and exposure to risk and ridicule in order to
follow Jesus. This commitment is not just a way of life, however. It is a
commitment to a person. A disciple follows another person and learns a new way
of life. (Culpepper)
6. ...when we can finally admit that "I can't,"
then we are open to God's "I can." (Stoffregen)
7. The marks of disciples have nothing to do with a
legalistic, law-oriented approach to Christian faith. The purpose is not to
create super Christians or any kind of spiritual elite. No one earns salvation
or gains any special favor from God by practicing the marks. They are simply
habits of the soul that open us to the wonder and mystery of God's active
presence in our lives. They keep us focused; they fix our attention on the
things of God. (Foss)
8. Christianity is the easiest religion [justification] in
the world and at the same time the most difficult one [sanctification]. (William
9. Consider the double meaning of "family ties":
1) positively, the mutual support and edification of Christian community; and 2)
10. Conditions for discipleship: 1) leaving behind family
ties; 2) carrying the cross; 3) giving up all earthly possessions. (Victor
11. Half-hearted commitment won't do, so thank God that
He's whole-heartedly committed to us!
The terrorist attacks upon New York and Washington have Americans in a war-like mood. Not since Pearl Harbor have Americans been so willing to go to war to stamp out an enemy. Our leaders have cautioned that it will be a long and difficult war. In the same way, Jesus had such large crowds following him that it was necessary for him to level with his would-be followers. The 3 years of Jesus' ministry have been divided into chapters: The Year Of Popularity, The Year Of Misunderstanding And The Year Of Rejection. That's why we ask the question today:
I. Are You Ready For Rejection, Even By Family?
A. The time was coming when brother would betray brother
and turn him into the authorities-Mk. 13:12-13, Matt. 10:21-22, Lk. 21:12-19
B. Cross carrying is the future of all who follow Jesus.
1. "A cross" isn't the suffering that all mankind can endure, but is what you must endure BECAUSE you are a Christian- Matt. 10:37-39
2. Taking up the cross means following Jesus' agenda instead of your own-Matt. 16:24ff., Mk. 8:34ff.
Transition: Even while the millions of tons of rubble are being cleared from the World Trade Center, talk has begun about rebuilding the towers. We are to view our Christian lives as being "under construction."
II. Are You Ready To Follow It Through As In A Building Project?
A. You have to determine how much it will cost you to be
1. As in Prov. 19:2
2. As in Lk. 9:57-58
B. Ridicule and await if you fail to count the cost
1. Text, v. 29-30
2. Matt. 7:24-27
III Are You Preparing As For A War?
A. Do you have the resources?
1. As in Rom. 5:3-5
2. As in Eph. 6:13ff
B. Are you willing to go the distance?
1. As in I Tim. 1:18-19
2. As in 1 Tim. 6:12
3. As in 2 Tim. 4:7
Richard Lenski wrote:
"Discipleship is no small thing. Jesus magnifies it when he describes it as undertaking to build no less than a grand tower-not merely an ordinary house or shed. He magnifies it again when he describes it as a great war campaign, fighting a king with an army that is twice the size of our own. The psychology involved is altogether true: an appeal to do great things.
To build a Christ-like life is like erecting a mighty tower
(positive), also like conquering an enemy who is twice our strength (negative).
Such things certainly cannot be done by blindly and rashly rushing in. As to the
tower, any sensible man would first calmly sit down and calculate
the cost lest he become a joke to everybody, unable to lay more than a
foundation, a lasting monument to his folly."
"The great point to be noted is that Jesus does not say that the man should not build the tower. Jesus wants us to be disciples, the man ought to build the grand tower. But no man can do this by his own natural ability. He could never get beyond the foundation, the mere outward profession of faith, mere outward attachment to Jesus. Where, then, is the money to come from to build this tower? Grace furnishes us all that discipleship needs, grace alone."
Ministry Health Sermon Starters
Copyright 2001 Ministry Health, LLC
All Rights Reserved
Go to Main Page
Main Site: http://ministryhealth.net/
FrontPage and Microsoft Internet Explorer are registered trademarks of
This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:33 PM