Summary: A Sermon for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 8
6th Sun after Pentecost A
"The Rough Road"
38* and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
39* He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
40* "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.
41* He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
42* And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."RSV
I am combining two verses from last week’s text with the verses from this week’s text for my sermon this week!
In this section, Jesus is speaking about the "rough road" of a Christian’s live. The road which is filled with the reality of living in a sinful and less than perfect world. Jesus is speaking about what has come to be called, " a theology of the cross"!! This theology says that through the brokenness of this world, through "crosses" live will be redeemed and renewed. Jesus is reminding the disciples and us that live is not easy. Living on this earth is very difficult. You and I will have "crosses" to bear. Life will not be easy. Living as a Christian, as a believer, in this world with the power of Satan to harness, to tempt, to drive one away from Christ means of life that is difficult, a "rough road."
Sometimes, I think, Satan works extra hard to drive those away who are the most faithful to Christ. It seems that Satan is alive and well especially in the church. Jesus knew that. He knew life would be difficult for His followers especially after He ascended into heaven. Jesus speaks about this difficult live over and over again in the gospels.
In this text, in Matthew 16:24-28 He says, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Again in Mark 8: 34 Jesus says, "And he called to him the multitude with his disciples and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." And in Luke 9:23-27 and again in Luke 14:25-27, he says the same thing. This theme of a "rough road" is repeated again and again in the gospels.
Not only does this theme of cross bearing appear again and again, but the idea of division, of a sword appears all over the gospels, as in this text for today and in Matt. 10: 21 it says,"Brother will deliver up brother to death,and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death;" and again in Mark 13:12, it says,"And brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child and children will rise against parents and have them put to death;" and we find similar text in Luke as well as John. Also in the Old Testament we find such texts as in Micah 7:1-7 and we could go on and on.
Do you see, do you get the point!!! Jesus is saying life will not be easy as you follow me. Don’t look for a life of roses, don’t look for the easy way, but the narrow road. Carry your cross, be ready to speak against even your father, your children, your parents and also be ready for them, your father, your children, your parents to speak up against you because of your faith, your belief in Me.
Not only did Jesus tell His disciples about the kind of life they would live for Him, but on Good Friday, He demonstrated that life by dying on a cross, by experiencing death, by facing pain, by being humiliated as He died a death of a criminal. This was not an easy life, this was a rough road for Jesus.
Now, we need to pause for a moment and ask a question. WHAT KIND OF PERSON WAS JESUS??? Was He a good person, or a bad person?? In Hebrews 4:15 it says: "For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning." Christ is like us, but different in that He was perfect, without sinning as it says. Further in Hebrews 2:17,"Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. "In Romans 5:19 it says,"For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous." Jesus was the righteous, obedient, sinless son of God, but at the same time He had to suffer.