Sunday, September 8, 2013


From Luke 9:18-27... Jesus asks the disciples who the crowds say he is; Jesus talks about his own death and some attributes of discipleship.

• (after the reading of the gospel...)
Whaddya suppose happened after this? The next words in Luke are “about eight days after Jesus said this…” (9:28). I know the disciples probly didn’t go to the coffee shop the next morning, but you can imagine getting some unexpected stunning news and, well, talking about it for a few days, trying to figure out what it means, trying to figure out the implications, and what the future means.
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected—by the elders, chief priests and the legal experts—and be killed and be raised on the third day.” (9:22)
I don’t get it. I mean just a few days ago He fed thousands of people with one guy’s lunch pail. Yeah, and remember He told the storm to stop and it did! Yeah, yeah, and He cast the demons out of that guy in the cemetery, Man, that was a sight! He healed that woman without even trying, he brought a dead girl back to life and He’s telling us He’s going to be killed?! I don’t get it. I didn’t see that coming. I thought you were onto something, Peter, when you said He was the Christ, sent from God, but I just don’t know what to make of what he said. I didn’t expect that.
• Oddly enough, Luke is the only one of the synoptic gospels to remove the disciples’ reactions to Jesus’ prediction of his death. Matthew and Mark include Peter rebuking Jesus – say it isn’t so! and right after calling him Messiah – and Jesus counter-rebuking Peter saying “Get behind me, Satan!” But why doesn’t Luke include Peter’s reaction?
I think he wants us to focus on Jesus’ words. Peter’s confession, Jesus’ words, and Jesus’ speech about discipleship. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by peoples’ words and actions, and we really gotta give our attention to Jesus first. (which is one reason we celebrated communion early in the service today… Jesus first.)
• So the last few chapters have been asking Who is Jesus? We have been witnessing great displays of God’s power working in Jesus, master over storms and demons, disease and death. We’ve witnessed Jesus giving the disciples the power to cast out demons and cure diseases, we’ve witnessed God’s power in Jesus as thousands are miraculously fed, and now we’ve got a 90-degree turn from where we thought we were going – Jesus is the Christ, Jesus is the Redeemer, Jesus will cleanse the land from its foreign occupiers…
Who is Jesus? He is one in the tradition of the prophets – proclaiming and healing – but he’s more. He’s one like John the Baptist, preaching and challenging, but he’s more. And he doesn’t deny being the Christ, sent from God, but he’s more, and he’s not what you expected. His road leads neither to a military sword nor a political crown but a criminal’s death on a cross. Totally different trajectory than expected.
• But, you wanna be on God’s team, you listen to Jesus and you follow Jesus, not your own expectations or hopes, not the expectations or hopes of man, but you follow Jesus.
• What does it look like to follow Jesus? Well right here he gives us five points about discipleship. (And just as an aside, I wanted to talk about stewardship and commitment in September, so think of this as something of a commitment/discipleship message)                                                                    
• Five points about discipleship. First: “All who want to come after Jesus must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow him.” (9:23) Taking up the cross here is a regular, repeated, voluntary yielding of your life to follow Jesus. It is not giving a little here and there when it’s convenient; it is not backing out when it’s tough; and it’s not once-and-done. A disciple daily even hourly yields their life to Christ.
• Second: “All who want to save their lives will lose them, but all who lose their lives because of Jesus will save them.” (9:24) The depth of commitment is reiterated here. When a follower puts their own life over or before Christ’s, they are not living as a disciple. There’s a similar saying told to soldiers before battle: the first to die will be those who turn and run. The one who stays in the battle, even though they may die, their selflessness goes before them.
• Third: “What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives?” (9:25) Jesus is talking here about worldly goods, possessions, and the potential our possessions have of possessing us. Hence sending the disciples out with little more than the shirt on their backs, which happened before this episode and is repeated in chapter ten. Rely not on your own strength or your own stuff, rely fully on God, if you would be a disciple.
• Fourth: “Whoever is ashamed of Jesus and his words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person…” (9:26)  What you’ve got as a disciple is your words, your witness, your testimony, your repeated simple belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and your living your life so that others will know that, know that and want to be like that.
• And fifth: the one who lives the life of the disciple will see God’s fruit while they live.

• So. Jesus is the Christ, and more. 
And your presence is required. 
Be there. 
Be here. 
Be a disciple. 
Be the body of Christ. 
Regardless of circumstances. Follow Jesus.

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