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Published by: api-3835659 on Oct 18, 2008
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Responding to Christ’s Call to Discipleship

(Luke 9:57-62, 14:25-33) With Rejection (By the Samaritans, Luke 9:51-56) Discuss: Set his face = was determined, determined to do what? In 536 BC., when the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity and began to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans wanted to help the Jews. Because the Samaritans were a “mixed race” of Jews and Gentiles the Jews refused the Samaritans' help. Then the Samaritans separated themselves and built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim. (Ezra 4:1-3). Henceforth the Jews and the Samaritans had no dealings with each other. (John 4:9) That is probably the reason for the refusal of the Samaritans at Luke 9:52. But some among the Samaritans did receive the Gospel after Pentecost. (Acts 1:8; 8:14) Without an Appreciation of the Cost of Commitment (Luke 9:57-58, 14:25-33) Note: Jesus responds not with rejection but with a reminder/clarification of the cost. There is arguably a second level to the dialogue. In the first century, the Gentile nations, including Rome, were referred to as "birds of the air" and members of the Amonite nation were called "foxes". Jesus also referred to Herod as "that fox"(Luke13:32) Discuss: What does it really mean to carry your cross? (Luke 14:27) A cross has only 1 purpose, crucifixion. It means daily identification with Christ in shame, suffering, and surrender to God’s will. The cross was the will of God for Jesus. What God’s will is for you is your cross. It requires dying to self, to your own plans and ambitions in order to serve God as He directs With Excuses (Luke 9:59-62) Lord I’ve got to first go bury my father (Luke 9:59) = putting off commitment Discuss: In the response Jesus makes “let the dead bury the dead”, of whom is he speaking? It what sense are they dead? (Luke 9:60) In the Middle East, "to bury one's father" has a long history as an expression for doing one's duty of remaining home until one's parents are respectfully buried. That could be years, if not decades, down the road. The man is balancing Jesus' call to discipleship against family and community standards and expectations. To Jesus, “the living” must choose to pursue the present reality of God's kingdom while the spiritually “dead” absorb themselves with empty tradition. (See Mark 10:28-30)

Let me first go say goodbye to my family

The translation should be "let me go home and take my leave". What's the difference? In the Middle East, the person leaving always asks permission and the one remaining says "goodbye". So I would say something like "with your permission" and Bob would reply something like "go with God". Now, between a son and his parents this is far more than a formality. This really is seeking permission Everybody knew that no father in his right mind would allow a son to go off on a crack-brained scheme like following Jesus. It's easy to agree to something when you know a higher authority will overrule you. Maybe you've used that dodge yourself: "Oh, I'd love to but I have to ask..." and depending what the request is you can fill in the blank with spouse, parents, children, supervisor, boss, head office, whatever. For over 1,000 years Arabic translations of Luke have read "let me go and explain my case to those in my house". The question is: "surely Jesus you aren't claiming greater authority over me than my parents" and Arab seminary students still turn white when studying this passage because that's exactly what Jesus is saying there is no higher authority than mine! Consider: Do you use your responsibility to your family as an excuse for not serving God with all your heart, soul and strength? The love of your human family, for all its strengths, is not sufficient to save your soul. Discuss: Why does Jesus respond “No man that has put his hand to the plow and looks back is well suited for the kingdom of God”? (Luke 9:62) (urgency? continuity of commitment?) Every farmer will tell you that no one can plow a straight furrow without keeping the eyes straight ahead. Other example of “looking back”, Lot's wife (Luke 17:32; Gen. 19:26) Jesus' answer also draws upon a story with which people of faith would have been familiar: the call of the prophet Elisha. God had told Elijah to anoint a young man as his successor as prophet to the nation of Israel. Elijah journeys to the town of Abel-meholah. He finds his spiritual heir-apparent plowing in the field, and lets Elisha know of his divine selection by placing his own cloak, the symbol of the prophetic office, on the young man's shoulders. Elisha's response? "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." Sound familiar? (1 Ki. 19:15-21) With Commitment (Matt. 4:18-22) Peter and Andrew: “At once abandoning the nets, they followed him.” (Matt. 4:18-20) James and John: “At once leave the boat and their father, they followed him.” (Matt. 4:21-22) Matthew: “And rising up he followed him” (Mark 2:14) Philip: “found Nathanael, come and see!” (John 1:43-51) BAN THE “BUTS”
Is it time to BAN THE BUTS from your Christian journey? Yes, they come SO easily. Sunday School? But this is the only day I get to catch up on my sleep. Mid-week Bible study? But it's such a rush after work. Teach? But there are others who could do it just as well. Serve on a board or committee? But I've done that before. But, but,

but... The good news is that once the BUT's are done, a real blessing awaits. I read something by a lady named Jacqueline Townsend called "The Confessions of a Reluctant Steward”. Jacqueline recalls being ambushed on the way out of church. "Will you do flowers?" She writes: I couldn't figure any graceful way out of this one. It didn't seem the right moment to point out that I was flat broke in both the time and talent department. I was trapped. I spoke the word so many dare not say: "Sure." So I do flowers. You must understand I am not the artistic type. My idea of a festive centerpiece is matching salt and pepper shakers. Botanical knowledge is out of my realm, although I am able to identify a carnation, thanks to cans from contented cows. Why couldn't it have been something easy, like traveling in the belly of a whale? (Jonah and I have a lot in common, but that's another story.) The worst part was knowing my name would show up in the schedule. People would know I was the bi-weekly mishandler of blooms! On the other hand, it was a little flattering to be asked (someone noticed I was here) and thought capable (maybe I could get a book from the library). I vowed to do my best, at least until I could pawn the task off on someone else. My schedule revealed I could squeeze it in if I gave up ironing. It seemed such a small sacrifice for the church. As the weeks went by, I found myself looking anew at the world around me. I noticed when the fireweed bloomed. My husband would report, "There's some wonderful fern down by the creek bank." We took walks looking for wildflowers. I learned to boldly venture into the cooler at the florist shop in search of lemon leaves and baby's breath. Just this week I made the most amazing discovery - I like doing the flowers. It's not the arrangements themselves; I'm never quite satisfied. Spending time in the silent church, either alone or with my husband, is so refreshing. I peruse the bulletin board and book table, poke around in the sacristy picking out a vase, talk to God, maybe sing a little. It's a little homecoming every other Saturday. I don't even miss the ironing.

An expert on the subject of time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will probably never forget. As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in, and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" "No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!" "No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is this: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all. The big rocks are your service to God!

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