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Priorities of Discipleship - Brief sermon

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Lord may we hear your will and ways, catch a glimpse of what you want for us during this service and respond as willing disciples… in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit - Amen

““Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For 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; 36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household..”

                       

Not come to bring peace, but a sword

            Are these really the words of Jesus Christ?

            Where are all the words about Love?

            What happened to the feel good messiah?

            How are we to understand these words from Jesus?

The reading today challenges us

Some might quickly hear them and immediately jump to the conclusion that Jesus is talking out of two sides of his mouth

Or some might question whether these are the thoughts of the writer of the gospel and his beliefs and not the “prince of peace”

           

Well I think that it is clear they are the word so Jesus and in fact we can find similar statements elsewhere in other gospel accounts

– for instance Luke 12 & 14

“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53they will be divided: 

father against son and son against father,

mother against daughter and daughter against mother,

mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law

and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)

and

26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

            Those are the words from the mouth of Jesus          

However, one might quickly react and think God doesn’t really want us to hate our family - what about the ten commandments and number 5 Honor your father and your mother”

So what is really going on here?

            Like anything in life, in order to understand something you need to dig deeper, you need to         look at the whole situation and let’s start with the context of the passage

This passage is part of an even larger section in which the general theme is challenging us to the missional work of the Gospel ans the responsibilities that go along with that

Earlier (last week’s reading) we saw Jesus commission the 12 apostles for their first mission work

Sending them out into the with a simple but directed message – proclaim that the kingdom of God is near and heal

Through-out Jesus’ teaching we see Him challenging us

      Revealing what the world has come to understand to be wrong

                  Pushing the limits - calling them to a purer - higher - more righteous understanding                        and stating God’s truth

Jesus doesn’t want quantity - He wants quality

And that is precisely what the passage today is about - “the cost of discipleship”

Now an important clarification needs to be made in regards to the word “hate”

            There is throughout the Bible a tendency to use the word “hate” when what is really meant           is a secondary form of love.

                        So when God says things like “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated,” the meaning is not that God literally hates Esau or his kin in the colloquial use of that word

            but rather that Jacob was preferred over Esau and that Esau, therefore, received love but a            love that was perhaps a bit less in intensity or scope.

In this passage Jesus is in fact not really saying anything new

            I mentioned the ten commandments earlier

                        And the first and most important is

I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me.

            And commandments two and three basically clear it up further

                        No idols of other gods and do not take the Lords name in vain

                                    God is saying “Me first”

Jesus, Himself restates this in Mark 12 this very same thing - which we have in our prayer book service

            Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with           all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”

 

The cost of discipleship is putting God first

NT Wright - New Testament scholar and Bishop of Durham is his book “what Paul really said” comes to this conclusion - simply put

            “Jesus is Lord….!”

                        Not Caesar

                                    Not other gods

                                                Not my house

                                                            Not my car

                                                                        Not my job

                                                                                    Not even my family

                                                                                                And Not my own life

                                                                                                            Jesus is Lord

The Cost of discipleship is making that claim - for all in you life

Make no mistake about it; some of the old sayings are sometimes the wisest -

            “you get what you pay for”

                        being a follower of Christ - costs

                                    it certainly challenged the crowd of followers

                                                and it challenges us today

My message for today is not to soften the “cost of discipleship” but to be true to it

Brothers and Sisters in Christ - if you found the gospel uncomfortable today

-          it is - and Jesus made no apologies for it

o       Jesus was not some slippery salesperson who promised one thing but delivered another – Jesus told it like it was – He was open and just with his disciples and called them to choose their priorities

But in just when we are feeling the challenges of Jesus to be possibly too strong – remember the other side of Jesus ministry – beyond clear prioritized living

            We have the grace of God – the sacrificial lamb that died for our sins

So consider this story

A few months ago I had the privilege of attending two Order of Niagara services

            In the first one I was sitting on the end of an aisle and during “the peace”;             Rev. Sue-Anne             Ward, who organizes many of these things at the Cathedral

                        Asked me if I would serve in administering one of elements - the Bread or the wine

                                    A person who I know somewhat - who after he received it said in clear                                           voice ….“Thank you Jesus”

                                                Most people say nothing - some say “Amen”

                                                            But I will never forgot the conviction in his voice and the                                                                words offered to the one who deserves it “thank you Jesus”

The cost of discipleship, if accepted, yes – calls us to clarity of our convictions and priorities to be God will first but also allows us to come to the Communion and say

“thank you Jesus”                   Amen

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