Summary: The cost of discipleship
Story: C.T. Studd (Charles Thomas Studd) (1860-1931).
C. T. Studd was the son of a wealthy Englishman, Edward Studd.
He was an excellent cricket player and at the age of nineteen was captain of the team at Eton.
He attended Cambridge University from 1880 to 1883.
It was while at Cambridge that he became a national hero. Cambridge University challenged the all mighty Australian Cricket team to a match and CT Studd together with his brother put together the match winning innings.
And he became a household name. He would equate today to someone like Michael Owen - who has shot to stardom following England’s 5-1 thrashing of the German team in football last week.
He was converted at Cambridge to Christ through the preaching of D. L. Moody.
Although he had fame and fortune at his feet, shortly afterwards Studd and six other students dedicated their lives and wealth to the Jesus Christ. As a result they offered themselves to Hudson Taylor for work in China. They later became well known as "The Cambridge Seven".
They sailed to China in 1885 and Studd continued to work for several years before ill health forced him and his wife to return to England, where they turned over their property to the China Inland Mission.
In December 1912, he left his family at home and went to Africa for two years in evangelistic work.
He returned home for a short time and then went back to Africa for five more years.
His wife did not join him until 1928, one year before she died. And Studd himself died in Malaga, Africa, in 1931.
His motto was: "If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."
C.T. Studd was a real disciple of Jesus Christ and discipleship is the subject of this morning’s Gospel reading - Luke 14:25-33:
Christ wants dedicated men and women who are his disciples.
1. Strong images
He uses strong images.
In Luke 14 verse 26 Jesus said:
"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--he cannot be my disciple.
And in the following verse Jesus went on to say
“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has, cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:27)
Jesus is using hyperbole here.
He is not telling us to literally hate our parents, our wives and children and our own lives - because elsewhere (Mt. 5:44) Jesus tells us to even love our enemies.
In Hebrew thought, there is no seperate word to ’prefer less’. So Jesus would have to use the Hebrew word transliterated as ’sane’which is translated into the Greek and English as ’hate’.
Actually the Hebrew word ’sane’covers the whole range of negative emotions from
’intense hatred of the enemies of God’ simply to
’something to be avoided’.
(See Gen 29:31,33, Deut 21:15).
The Hebrew word ’Sane’ also means “abandon, leave aside, quit, relinquish” and it is this nuance that seems to be present here.
So what Jesus is saying in Lk 14:26:
"If anyone comes to me and does not relinquish his ties to his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.”
Nor is Jesus telling us to literally take up a Cross.
Rather what he is saying is that our dedication in following him must make our love for our family and ourselves seem in comparison like hate.
Story: Indeed, in the first century AD that was the very option that Jews would have had to make when they become Christians.
And among the more Orthodox, they would have a burial service for the person, signifying that they were now dead to their family for renouncing their faith and becoming Christians.
It cost them everything – sometimes even their own lives.
Their family and circle of friends turned on them and rejected them.
Indeed for some Christians today converting from Islam to Christianity has a similar effect today.
For example, it is a capital offence in Muslim Afganistan and Saudi Arabia to convert from Islam to Christianity.
Discipleship is not for the faint hearted
Jesus is looking for disciples – with all the attendant features related to discipleship.
It is interesting that the Church was only given one commission by Jesus:
"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Mt. 28:19-20)
I would like to focus on the word: “Disciple” this morning.
1.1 What does the word DISCIPLE mean?
The word "Disciple" is derived from the Latin ’discipulus’ meaning a pupil or learner.