Sunday 04 September 2022

Bible Book:

'Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.' (v. 27)

Luke 14:25-33 Sunday 4 September 2022

Psalm 1


My first response to this Bible reading is “That’s a bit harsh, Jesus! Let’s get back to love and gentleness…” Indeed, it is easier to let our eyes skim over the words that cause us to wriggle with discomfort than to immerse ourselves in their potentially transforming promises.

This summer we saw England’s Lionesses take on Germany in the final of the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 at Wembley in front of a capacity crowd. The majority were supporting the Lionesses and their chanting and heart was for England to win. As we listened to the radio or watched onTV, we wanted to hear pundits and commentators who supported our stance. Yes, we were impressed by the skills of the German women, but how we roared in support of the English women and how we railed against the referee’s decisions that went against them. Large crowds are not tame. They can turn quickly and dramatically against people declaring things that directly challenge their hopes and their world view.

Jesus makes such challenges. He says three times that there are conditions in which discipleship is impossible. The first challenge seems to be about hating the things that God has given as blessings: the human relationships we have and even our own life. I say again: "A bit harsh, Jesus!" At least, it would be harsh if Jesus were one-dimensional and simplistic. The reality of being a disciple of Jesus is compounded with verse 27, "Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." The converse of this is also true: Jesus’ disciples will take up the cross and follow Jesus. In the same way as Jesus did, his disciples will also give up their ‘all’ in pursuit of full obedience to Holy God. Here is the reality of true blessing from God – in living fully for God’s kingdom.

 Jesus took the guilt and shame of the sinner – the person who has become separated from God due to the value placed in everything that is not godly and good – and publicly carried the cross to Calvary where he died. In taking up the cross, we acknowledge our guilt. The value of the relationship with Jesus makes all else pale into insignificance. We count the cost and choose Jesus every time. As we give it all up, our personal theme song moves from Queen’s 'I Want it All' to Graham Kendrick’s 'Knowing You, Jesus'.


To Ponder:

  •  When have you felt challenged by Jesus’ words to choose his way over the ways of popular culture? Where did that leave your friendships? How did you know you were doing the right thing?
  • How might you support someone who is choosing to ‘take up the cross and follow Jesus’?
  • Charles Wesley picked up Paul’s words: “I will most gladly spend and be spent for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:15) in his hymn 'Give me the faith which can remove' (Singing the Faith 661). Consider how the second verse fulfils the criteria for discipleship that Jesus describes in verse 33.("I would the precious time redeem, and longer live for this alone; to spend, and to be spent, for them who have not yet my Saviour known; fully on these my mission prove, and only breathe, to breathe thy love.") 
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