16th Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Bible Text: Luke 14:25-35


Sometimes, for many and various reasons, a man will hate his father and his mother.

With the proper amount of time for wounds to fester, with enough frustration and pain and antagonizing, a father and mother may even begin to hate the child back.

Once that happens – once you can despise your own child, all bets are off.

No one will be spared, no one is safe.

That kind of hate will devour husbands and wives and brothers and sisters.

Eventually, in a world of brokenness and loneliness, with no one else left to despise,

hate turns inward.

You look into it like a mirror, and once you see the damage you have done, you hate yourself too.

“Is this how to be Jesus’ disciple?”

It is not given to me to soften Jesus’ words or to take the edge off of His message.

So I won’t.

But consider for a moment that you understood me just now –

Just now when I spoke of softening words and taking the edge off of a message.

You know that means: its making something easier to hear, making it less offensive.

Those expressions are known as idioms.

You, an English-speaking person, know what they mean,

because they are English idioms.

With this talk of hate, Jesus is using an idiom as well.

Hebrew does not have a word form for we call the comparative or the superlative:

More than, less than, better than, worse than, et cetera.

To capture that sense, a first century Jew would use extreme words like hate.

To summarize a much longer Hebrew grammar lesson,

you can understand Jesus’ words this way:

If anyone comes to Me and does put Me and My Kingdom ahead of 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.

If you’ll excuse yet another idiom:

that message is a bit easier to swallow, but not by much;

Because that message requires you to count the cost of being Jesus’ disciple.

It means you have to do some calculations.

Before building a tower, a builder checks the books.

Before going to war, a King counts heads, bullets, and bandages.

They don’t want to start something they can’t finish.

To would-be and have-been disciples, Jesus says get to counting.

Crosses and losses will be yours.

And there will be no compromise:

Friends and relationships,

much of your free time,

an easy conversation,

a promotion at work;

everything that you would put ahead of Jesus and His Kingdom,

everything that would have priority over His Word and His way,

must get in line behind the cross and behind you.

To be Jesus’ disciple is to follow Him alone

And to bear your cross means to suffer the scorn that kind of

discipleship will earn you.

To would-be and have-been disciples, Jesus says count the cost.

Have Forgiveness and it will cost you power.

Have Mercy and it will cost you selfishness

Have Love and it will cost you hate

Have Jesus and He will cost you all your idols.

It sounds nice, but you would rather keep all those things.

Power can be fun.
Hate is often satisfying.

Selfishness is incredibly practical.

And our idols are very entertaining and attractive.

But being a disciple means you don’t see any of those things,

They are renounced, they are behind you.

With nothing between you and Jesus, the view is clear:

It means that you can watch Jesus who has gone ahead of you.

You can see Him alone as He puts everything behind Him and His cross for you.

Any loving son wants to make his mother happy and siblings cherished–

Jesus not excepted.

And yet Jesus’ Easter Kingdom must come with the spilling of blood

and the shedding of a mother’s tears.

Mom and Siblings have to get in line behind the cross.

Though He is a Man, though He is The Man,

Jesus does not take a wife or have kids of His own.

His bride is the Church who bears her children in the font.

The Church and her children have to get in line, too.

On the cross, Jesus suffers the wrath of His Heavenly Father against sin.

Once that happens – once God can despise His own Son in the place of sinful man,

You are sacred, you are safe.

Safety does not mean that Jesus He will take away your crosses.

But He will use them to conform you to His image,

this is how He shapes disciples.

Disciples who hate what Jesus hates and love what Jesus loves,

that is, who put behind what Jesus puts behind, and put ahead what Jesus puts ahead:

Fathers and mothers, siblings and kids

Even you, even me.

That’s you…

By your baptism you have been lined up behind Jesus.

By Jesus’ own sacrifice and the giving of His Holy Spirit,

The cost of your discipleship is paid.

So you are free to love what Jesus loves.

That would be the whole, hate-filled world.

That would be one another.

Start again. Right now. This morning.

With the passing of the peace.

With the sharing of His Holy meal.

We’re all in this together.


About Pastor Hopkins