Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

by Crossings

Counting the Cost
Luke 14:25-33
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
(Proper 18 – Sunday between September 4 and 10 Inclusive)
analysis by Mike Hoy


25Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 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. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build atwoer, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to completeit? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is till far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.


DIAGNOSIS: Trying to Survive on Legal Reckoning

Step 1–Initial Diagnosis: Playing It Safe
One must wonder how many from the “large crowds” still continued to “travel with” Jesus after they learned from him what all is involved in being his disciple. He turns to tell them all that they must not only give up much, but actually “hate” (father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, even life itself) to be his disciple. That kind of call to strict undivided loyalty might lead even the best of them to look for another path that is not quite so costly to one’s self (with “self” understood to include all that is valued by us).

Step 2–Advanced Diagnosis: Disheartened: Too Much to Pay (Counting the Cost)
Surely Jesus’ demands are too costly! The task of building seems unending (v.29); and the odds are seemingly against us in the battle to be faithful in a world filled with temptation and hate (v.31). So we pull back, retreat into our old more tried and true ways of saving our shirt, or saving our face–holding on to our “self.” We become disheartened at the price tag of following Jesus, because our hearts are still too much clinging to things close to us, to family, to life itself. “Thanks, but no thanks,” is the unfaithful response of our disheartened souls.

Step 3–Final Diagnosis: Discounted
Ultimately, the real danger is not simply that we have withdrawn from the frontlines of being a disciple, nor simply that we are hiding in the crowds, but that in our reluctance to pay the price, we end up on the short end of the stick in God’s final reckoning. If Jesus’ call to discipleship is too much to risk, then we are left with our present course of action. That has its divine repercussions in the final counting of the cost for our lives.

PROGNOSIS: New Value in Discipleship

Step 4–Initial Prognosis: Re-valued
What we need to consider is Who it is that calls us to the path of discipleship. Jesus is the One who treasures our being, paying the price for our short-sightedness and our account which is in arrears toward God. Through him we are re-valued as people of new worthiness, and we are accounted before God as wall-to-wall righteous. He will not abandon us, no matter the cost to himself, no matter the odds that he must risk for that venture to save us.

Step 5–Advanced Prognosis: Taking Heart: Counting on Jesus
Since Jesus has paid that much for us, then taking up our own crosses does not seem so outrageous, especially when the ultimate End of all our building is in sight. We trust, in faith, that we cannot lose, no matter what the odds. Our spirits are buoyed through the assurance that Jesus is with us.

Step 6–Final Prognosis: Risking the Cost
When we recognize that Jesus’ style of “hating” is loving the other with an undying love, we realize that the cost is enormous. But we become people bold enough to risk losing everything–including our “self”– because even in losing we are on the winning path with our Lord who has gone before us–and he is the One who will see us through to the end.

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  • Crossings

    Crossings is a community of welcoming, inquisitive people who want to explore how what we hear at church is useful and beneficial in our daily lives.

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