Please read Luke 14:25-33.
In her sermon on this text, Barbara Brown Taylor says, “If Jesus were in charge of an average congregation I figure there would be about four people left there on Sunday mornings, and chances are those four would be fooling themselves. Jesus would greet newcomers by saying, ‘Are you absolutely sure you want to follow this way of life? It will take everything you have. It has to come before everything else that matters to you. Plenty of people have launched out on it without counting the cost, and as you can see they are not here anymore. The other thing is, if you succeed – if you really do follow me – it will probably get you killed. Why don’t you go home and think it over? I would hate for you to get in over your head.’ He is the complete opposite of the good parish minister. Far from trying to make it easier for people to follow him, he points out how hard it is.” (Bread of Angels by Barbara Brown Taylor. Chapter 9, “High Priced Discipleship.”)
Our scripture today is a hard text, there is no way around it. Much of Jesus’ hyperbolic emphasis is to make a point: this work of discipleship isn’t to be taken lightly. But still, it is hard to hear. I worry that we get so caught off guard by the “hating father mother and all the rest of the family” part that we miss what comes in verse 28. Which of you doesn’t sit down and estimate, reflect, ponder, plan, discern, consider before tackling something big? Something important? Something that brings forth the kingdom of God?
I suspect Barbara Brown Taylor is correct. Jesus probably wouldn’t be the likeable parish pastor every call committee sets out to find. But being likeable isn’t his job. His job is to bring death to the ways we oppress ourselves and one another so that we can know the new life of God’s kingdom. He doesn’t take his job lightly and he calls us to take the work of God’s kingdom seriously, too. As we continue to follow Jesus’ path as he sets his face towards Jerusalem, may we keep estimating, reflecting, and considering the path of discipleship and how God calls us into the work of new life.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
Let us pray:
We are turning, Lord, to hear you, see you, and know you. You are merciful and kind, slow to anger, rich in blessings. With every twist and turn, lead our steps back to your grace and your mercy. Lead us in your ways of new life, forgiveness, and re-creation. We pray in the name of Christ, the one who reveals your love, Amen.