Summary: Jesus quotes Micah’s prophecy to warn his followers of the cost of discipleship, and its reward.
The Prince of Peace Brings a Sword
The biggest fear of most Basic Trainees is that an injury will force them to restart training. After my worship service (as a Basic Training Chaplain) one morning I spoke to a soldier on crutches as my three-year-old wound her way around my legs. Later that day Alexandra related the story to her grandmother. "Daddy talked to the soldier girl and she was crying."
"Why was she crying, Honey?" Grandma asked.
"She doesn’t want to be a disciple," Alexandra replied.
When Grandma shared this account with me I was momentarily puzzled. As I replayed the conversation in my mind, however, it dawned on me, "She doesn’t want to be recycled!"
Unfortunately, for many of us what Alexandra said is more true than we would like to admit. "Disciple" seems to imply a level of difficulty which is above and beyond the call of duty. Like the soldier on crutches, we expect a certain level of discomfort in life but when it comes to facing genuine hardship we feel like the one in charge is asking a little too much. After all haven’t we been saved? If hardship is still to be part of life, then what have we been saved from? There is an implied expectation that for God’s people life should be easier than those in the world.
Yet in the passage we read today Jesus turns that notion on its head, quoting a prophecy from Micah He speaks of a life of loneliness and difficulty for those who would be His followers
Proposition: The theme here is something that the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "The Cost of Discipleship"
Bonhoeffer learned how steep the cost could be in a Nazi concentration camp where he forfeited his very life. The SS Doctor who witnessed his execution said, "I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God." (http://www.thesumners.com/bonhoeffer/)
Interrogative: But what is to be expected for us? How much does this free gift of salvation cost, and with what premium must we pay?
Transition: Jesus mentions three dimensions of the cost of following him, and then concludes with the benefit that can be expected for those who choose to follow. I’d like to look at the costs and benefits together this morning. The first thing that Jesus notes is that following him will bring...
vv. 35-36 "For I have come to turn ’a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’"
Here is the prophetic quote in our passage this morning and it is a strange one. Jesus reaches back to the prophecy of Micah to a passage speaking about a time when the people have fallen away from the Lord, a time of apostasy, and the care that the faithful must take at that time, that they must not trust in those they should be able to trust in. Jesus zeroes in on the part of the Passage that says even families are divided in such a time.
Now this isn’t the kind of passage you would expect the Messiah to be claiming fulfillment of. You’d expect passages like we read last week about the Messiah performing miracles, you’d expect passages about Messiah establishing God’s kingdom, but you don’t expect this.