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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Series C

From Rev. Kelly Bedard

"Theological Terrorism?"
Luke 14:25-33

A. Domestication

    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

B. Discipleship

    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

 

Notes

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.
                                                          (Wesley White)

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 Arndt) 

9. Consider the double meaning of "family ties": 1) positively, the mutual support and edification of Christian community; and 2) self-/nuclear-family absorption.

10. Conditions for discipleship: 1) leaving behind family ties; 2) carrying the cross; 3) giving up all earthly possessions. (Victor Prange)

11. Half-hearted commitment won't do, so thank God that He's whole-heartedly committed to us!

 

From Rev. Wayne Dobratz

“So You Want To Be A Disciple Of Jesus?”
Lk. 14:25-33

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:

So You Want To Be A Disciple Of Jesus?

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 Christ's disciple
    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."

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:33 PM