Summary: A sermon for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 18
15th Sunday after Pentecost
"Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, "If any one 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. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ’This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:25-33, RSV.
Grace and Peace to you fro our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
One day, a young disciple of Christ desirous of wanting to become all that God had for him visited the home of an elderly Christian. He had heard that this old man had never lost his first love for Christ in all the years he had known Him.
The old Christian was sitting on the porch with his dog stretched out before him taking in a beautiful sunset. The young man posed this question:
"Why is it, brother, that most Christians zealously chase after God during the first year or two after their conversion, but then fall into a complacent ritual of church twice a week and end up not looking any different than their neighbors who aren’t even Christians?
I have heard you are not like that. I’ve been told that you have fervently sought after God throughout your years as a Christian. People see something in you that they don’t see in most people who became Christians. What makes you different?"
The old man smiled and replied, "Let me tell you a story: One day I was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog. Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across in front of us. Well, my dog jumped up, and took off after that big rabbit. He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion.
Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking. What a sight it was, as the pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks, up stony embankments and through thickets and thorns!
Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, discouraged by the course and frustrated by the chase. Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit."
"In that story, young man, is the answer to your question."
The young man sat in confused silence. Finally, he said, "Brother, I don’t understand. What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the quest for God?"
"You fail to understand," answered the well-seasoned old man, "because you failed to ask the obvious question.
Why didn’t the other dogs continue on the chase?
And the answer to that question is that they had not Seen the rabbit.
Unless you see the prey, the chase is just too difficult. You will lack the passion and determination necessary to keep up the chase." (1)
Have you seen the Lord? Are you willing to count the cost to follow the Lord by keeping your eye on the prize. Not the prize of heaven, but the prize of the one who will get you there Jesus Christ.
Jesus is talking about counting the cost to be his disciple.
Jesus is saying that it is not easy to be a disciple of his.
In our gospel lesson, Jesus is trying to tell us the price we must pay to be his disciple. He says, "If any one 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".
That is a harsh statement. Does Jesus really mean we should hate our families, we should hate ourselves?
Jesus is trying to drive home a point that to follow Him, to be a disciple of His one must put everything else second in life.
Jesus is saying we need to put at arms length, to put in second place everything in our lives except him. He comes first. He comes first before family, he comes first before our relatives, he comes first before our own lives. As we let the impact of that statement filter into our hearts, we see that Jesus is calling us to a radical kind of life. A life that is lived which sets those who believe in Him apart from the rest of society.