Summary: Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost September 9th, 2001 Luke 14: 25-33 Heavenly Father empower each of us to be a true follower of Christ by submitting all to his service. Amen. Title: “Being a follower of Christ is more than a career.”
Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost September 9th, 2001 Luke 14: 25-33
Heavenly Father empower each of us to be a true follower of Christ by submitting all to his service. Amen.
Title: “Being a follower of Christ is more than a career.”
As Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem he teaches about three basic conditions for being a disciple, all involving total commitment to him.
In chapter fourteen, up to verse twenty-five, Jesus has been at the home of a leading Pharisee engaged in dinner conversation where he taught about attitudes and behavior expected of a Kingdom member. Verse twenty-five, reminds the reader that Jesus is still traveling to Jerusalem. He is being followed by a crowd of Galileans who seem to be enthusiastically supporting him. Apparently aware that not all in the crowd are serious about making a true commitment to him, perhaps finding him interesting or a diversion from the routine of their lives, Jesus teaches them about the complete commitment necessary to truly follow him. While he, no doubt, would not want to discourage anyone from doing so, he does not want anyone to be under any false impressions regarding the cost. He gives three conditions in verses twenty-six, twenty-seven and thirty-three, attaching two parables to the second one to illustrate and emphasize his point verses twenty-eight to thirty and thirty-one to thirty-three. These conditions, mentioned elsewhere in Luke, can only be described as radical, involving total renunciation of family, self, and possessions.
In verse twenty-five, Now large were traveling with Jesus: Jesus retained the enthusiastic support of many fellow Galileans right up to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and, no doubt, beyond. Here, Luke is reminding the reader, after a pause for dinner in chapter fourteen verses one to twenty-four, that Jesus is indeed still progressing toward his goal.
In verse twenty-six, Whoever comes to me and does not hate: Of course, there is no room for psychological or emotional hatred in Christ’s message. He is not advocating active, cultivated, deliberate hatred for one’s parents, family or even enemies for that matter. Hebrew has no word for “prefer” or “love less.” To indicate preference Hebrew would say “love one and hate the other.” The Hebrew word for “hate” also means “abandon, leave aside, quit, relinquish.” This nuance seems to be present here. A good translation would be “renounce.” Renunciation is not to be confused with denunciation. In other places Jesus spoke of Christians being denounced, defamed, even destroyed. “To renounce” is to voluntarily give something or someone up, to voluntarily let go. This could be something good, as here, in the case of family love, bonds and association, or something bad, like sin- which one would also denounce or condemn. Jesus requires that a follower “renounce” family ties, put them second to him, give him first the time, attention, etc. one would ordinarily devote to family, even to one’s own life. The crowds who are following him are challenged to make a decision. Jesus is more than merely interesting, entertaining, something to do to relieve monotony. Jesus has said as much at the beginning of his Jerusalem journey, especially when he told a man to let others bury his father and another man to forego saying farewell to his family. Repeating the same point here emphasizes how important it is. Matthew chapter ten, verse thirty-seven, has the same saying indicating that it comes from “Q,” although Luke’s version expands it considerably.
In verse twenty-seven, Whoever does not carry his own cross: In chapter nine, verse twenty-three, Luke had already stated this principle when, after the first prediction of his passion and death, Jesus laid down the conditions for discipleship. As the disciples are to imitate what Jesus did regarding his own family they are to imitate him regarding the cross. Jesus has not, in fact, died on the cross at this point. If Jesus actually used the word “cross” it would be as a metaphor for a great burden, an ignominious death or both. Because “cross” later became such a central metaphor for Jesus and what he did- all his suffering vicariously for us- it is likely that the early church and or Luke want(s) us to read into it all that the Church understands by it, namely, the entire sacrificial attitude and behavior of Jesus. Followers are required to bear their burdens with the same sacrificial attitude as did Jesus.
In verses twenty-eight to thirty: The point of the Parable of the Tower builder is given clearly: “sit down and estimate or calculate the cost.” We must be careful that we do not press the analogy too hard. Jesus does not mean that we are to assess whether we, on our own power and with our own resources, can finish the job of discipleship. He is saying that the attitude of a builder applies to the attitude of a disciple. A disciple must go into his or her commitment with the resolve to finish. One should realize at the beginning that the cost is high, total in fact. There is to be no backing out, changing of one’s mind when the going gets rough. Although one does not finish the work, course, project, whatever metaphor one chooses to use, alone or on one’s one, still a firm commitment, never again called into question, is required to be an authentic follower and not merely an interested observer.