Summary: A disciple is not simply one who merely changes moral behavior in regards to the teachings of Jesus Christ, but in response to God’s work in him or her seeks a fundamental shift toward the ethics of Jesus Christ in every way.

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Sept 5, 2010

The Cost and Benefits of Discipleship

Grace mercy and peace from God the father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

The text for this sermon is Luke 14:25-27, 33 Let’s read it again.

The Cost of Discipleship

25Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Doesn’t Matthew 11:30 say For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

What’s going on here? This cross business doesn’t sound so easy.

Matthew 10:34-39 states the same concept.

34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 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. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

In all three synoptic gospels - Matthew (10:22), Mark(13:13), and Luke (21:17) -- Jesus says that all men will hate you because of me. He tells us to stand firm to the end and we will be saved.

In John 16:2 Jesus says a time is coming when anyone who kills you

will think he is offering a service to God. We have seen this in history, we

have seen it in our lifetimes.

Where is that easy yoke?

To the original hearers, the words of Jesus certainly came very clear over time. We know what happened to Judas Iscariot.(Math 27:5) and James the brother of John. (Acts 12:2) Their deaths are recorded in scripture. With the exception of John, according to tradition, the other ten were all martyred. Matthias, Judas Iscariot’s replacement, was stoned and beheaded.

History records the intermittent persecution and martyring of more disciples. Starting with Stephen in Acts 7 and continuing with subsequent generations of disciples martyred by various enemies of Christ up to the present time. There is also a disturbing history of Christians killing each other in fights over perceived heresy, reformation or power struggles. We must also, regrettably, admit that there were many forced conversions to Christianity by the sword. Many of the crosses that we are asked to carry are made of human ---- but not humane ---- construction.

From AD 33 to 1900 there were an estimated 14 Million martyred. During the 20th century alone there were an estimated 26 million martyrs. The current estimated rate of martyrdom is 159,000 per year - down from 330,000 per year during the cold war. As the Christian Church grows there are more Christians to kill, and more reasons on the part of persecutors to do so, Ironically the church is growing the fastest in areas where it is persecuted most.

(Monday Morning Reality Check, Global Evangelization Movement), (John Mark Ministries)

Lets get back to Jesus words from a more contemporary translation. You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me. So then, you cannot be my disciple unless you (are willing to) give away everything you own. CEV

Jesus is saying that He must come first in our lives. He is asking us to tear ourselves away from all other commitments and follow Him. We are not automatically required to give away everything we own --he is talking about attachments and priorities. He is asking that we be willing to give up every thing and everyone to follow him when he asks. We must be willing to abandon parents, families, golf clubs or mustang convertibles -- all of our stuff --- if necessary.

There are cultures, religions and social systems where one would be required to choose between family and Christ or Between community and Christ. It could happen to us -- a family member or spouse --possibly of another faith -- might issue an ultimatum to abandon Christ or be shunned if you receive Christ. We must love Jesus more than security, more than family, more than life itself. We are asked to put Jesus first in our lives, our commitments and our attachments.

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