Summary: Jesus is not interested in gathering a bunch of hangers-on... his desire is that those who follow him be totally devoted to him and willing to reconfigure their family values, self-interests and their hold on stuff.
Title: Jesus Isn’t Looking for Groupies
Text: Luke 14:25-33
Thesis: When we decide to be a follower of Christ we must reconfigure our family values, our need to look out for #1 and our hold on stuff.
CBS News reported that an estimated 87,000 people attended Glen Beck’s “Restoring Honor” Rally on August 28th. Aerial photos showed the crowd stretched from the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument. Glen Beck is a talk-radio host and Fox News commentator. Rally organizers were thinking big when they applied for a permit for up to 300,000 to attend. Beck himself estimated there were at least 100,000 in attendance. The National Park Service declined to offer a “guestimate” of the attendance. They have stopped counting crowds since 1997 when they were accused of underestimating the size of the Million Man March in 1995. (Alex Sundby, Glen Beck Rally Attracts Estimated 87,000, cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20014993-503544.html)
Can you imagine being able to gather 87,000 people for the occasion of hearing you talk? Can you imagine what kind of buzz Glen Beck and Sarah Palin must have felt with 87,000 people hanging on their every word and cheering madly? And what if 300,000 people had actually shown up? I wonder at what number Glen Beck would have said, “Okay folks, there are just too many of you. Some of you need to go home.”
In our story today the bible says that large crowds were traveling with Jesus when he turned to the crowd and said in essence, “There are just too many of you. Some of you need to go home.”
And then he told them why they needed to go home. “Some of you,” he said, “love your families more than you love me.” Jesus recognized that for some, the tension of family was too great to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
I. Christ must be the first love of the devoted follower of Christ.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life, cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26
Jesus was a popular personality. He drew large crowds of people and he was accompanied by a sizeable entourage as well. Apparently it occurred to Jesus that some of these people might not be all that serious about being his followers.
There were apparently a significant number of people who were devoted followers of Jesus Christ in the crowd. There were also people who may seriously checking Jesus out and in the process of devoting their lives to being his followers. But there were also a significant number of people who were just curious. They were hangers-on. They didn’t want to miss out on the action if Jesus was going to do something spectacular like heal someone. Neither was Jesus living under the illusion that everyone in the crowd was even friendly toward him. So Jesus decided it was time to weed-out the groupies from those who were seriously interested in following him.
Navy SEALs are the Navy’s elite special operations force. They are trained to do a variety of missions that we think of as being unconventional warfare. Seal training is one of the most rigorous training programs for special operations in the world… some even say it is brutal. It takes 30 months of training. They are pushed to the limit both physically and mentally in order to “weed out” those who may not be able to successfully complete a demanding mission. Statistically, the drop-out rate for a typical Navy SEAL class is between 70 and 80 percent. Statistically around 25 or every 100 recruits who wish to be Navy SEALs succeed. I was particularly interested in the way they use the term “weed out” to describe separating the wannabes from the men who can be Navy SEALs.
It may be a bit crass to assume that Jesus was actually trying to weed out the wannabe followers from those who would be true followers. Interestingly, Jesus raised the issue of a person’s loyalty for family as a potential tension with a person’s loyalty for Christ. Implicit in his comment is the likelihood that some will drop out if they have to love Jesus more than they love their family.
Jesus said, “If anyone comes after me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26
There is an old joke about how on one occasion a popular professional baseball team manager was being interviewed by Dr. Robert Shuller on his Hour of Power television program. When asked about his three highest priorities he purportedly answered, “For me it is baseball, family and God… and in that order.”