Come With Open Hands
Sunday September 5, 2021
The story is told of a pig and a free range chicken who were good friends. The farm was out in the country and next to a church. Bright and early one Sunday morning there was a flurry of activity at the church – curiosity got the better of the pig. He called to his friend, the chicken, to see what was happening. Sure enough there was great excitement as the church was preparing for a potluck breakfast and everyone was invited.
Caught up in the church excitement the chicken came back and suggested to the pig that they attend the potluck breakfast.
The chicken cried. “Let’s give them eggs and ham!”
“Not so fast.” said the pig. “For you, that’s just a contribution, but for me, it’s a total commitment.”
I wonder who you relate to: the chicken or the pig? What is your commitment to Christ? Are you inviting others into relationship with Christ, how is your life reflecting/shining the Light of Christ in the world?
This morning I would like to explore Luke 14:25-35, where Jesus pointed speaks of the Cost of Being a Disciple.
The Cost of Being a Disciple
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Today I would like to focus particularly on 25-27:
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
We read in this passage and many other places in the New Testament that “large crowds” around Jesus. Remember the only means for transport was probably a donkey, or by foot. Many within this crowd probably walked a considerable distance to be journey with Jesus and were interested in what Jesus had to say. Therefore many within the crowd I am sure would have consider themselves already “followers of Jesus” however Jesus wanted them(us) to understand what it means to be a disciple. Jesus outlines what is involves to truly be a disciple. I wonder just how many in attendance that day realized they were only casual followers, “along for the ride,” and not committed followers willing to give up everything in their lives that conflicted with Jesus teaching of what it means to be a disciple.
If you were among the “large crowds” that day, would you be a casual followers or committed follower? I wonder… are we like many who look to Jesus to solve their relationship concerns, health concerns, financial concerns and quickly become disillusioned – snatching thing back into our own hands – unwilling to follow/trust/wait for Jesus when concerns are not instantly resolved? What if Jesus answer to our prayer is not what we want or we realize the answer Jesus provides requires sacrifice – a letting go of something we hold tight?
Jesus is very clear about what it means to be a disciple, a follower of Jesus namely: it is a person committed to Him above everything else.
Verse 26 can be challenging as it reads, “Anyone who comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, – yes, even his own life cannot be my disciple.”
What does Jesus mean: Jesus says that this commitment is for “anyone who comes to me” Jesus is not speaking exclusively to pastors, missionaries, or even mature believers – he is speaking to everyone. who wants to follow Jesus.
In Jewish culture the word “hate” was used to express lesser love, so Jesus was saying that we must love Him, Jesus, much more than we love our closest family relationships. A personal example to help illustrate: I remember the call/desire to go to Bible College - it required sacrifice - I needed to resign from my job “Cost Accountant” and give up my apartment. I had little savings at the time as I had immigrated a couple years earlier and the money I brought from South African did not hold much value here in Canada. It was a big sacrifice giving up all my security - I recall telling my parents of the decision. My Mom said; “We pay for your education provided you promise you don’t become a missionary! (Missionary Church) How easy it would have been to say “deal!” However I couldn’t because I did not know God’s plans for my future and I was going to trust God. I loved my Mom deeply for saying that - she said it with love, with good intentions for me. However I loved God more.
I believe Jesus was not speaking of our emotional feelings, he was speaking of our level of commitment. Jesus must be first in our priorities and in our loyalties.
In verse 27, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
The people gathered there would have known to brutal death and that the person sentence would carry the cross to place of execution on the cross, there is no turning back. Dying to our old-self is now easy.. it is painful to see who we truly are in the dark places of our life.
I would like to pause and reflectively look at verse 27
In order to carry the cross, you need Open Hands, you need to let go of what you are currently carrying in your hands.
Perhaps somewhere in your travels, the load you are carrying has become heavy and you are weary. Are you willing to slow down, pause, stop and to take a look at what is in your hand/what you are carrying? How easy it is sometimes to think we are carrying the cross and somehow we are actually carrying our own stuff/junk. Bitterness, anger, jealously, expectations, agendas, plans….
Are you willing to sacrifice what is in your hand in order to carry the cross.
“How do I open my closed hands to offer who I truly am and receive forgiveness and know the love of God’s embrace in the messiness of life?”
If we are committed to Jesus we need to follow His example to pray.
Scripture tells us on many occasions Jesus withdrew to pray, to spend time with God. It is the Prayer is beautiful– it is the means by which we communicate with God – it enriches and deepens our relationship with God as we lay down our junk/stuff – letting going of the old self asking forgiveness to be embraced in God’s love.
Do we approach prayer casually or with commitment. Do we come with a list “Honey do-…. of things God needs to take care of while we continue doing our own life OR do we come in full surrender before God – revealing who we truly are deep inside… asking Good to forgive/redeem – listening to God’s living from that place?
If we long to be disciples, committed to Jesus we desperately need to be honest and vulnerable to stand with Open Hands letting go of our junk. It is only by having Open Hands that we can receive God’s love, forgiveness, grace, mercy and healing.
Jesus, our Saviour, our Redeemer was physical crucified – died on the cross – he died and rose again so we are reconciled back to God.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
What do you see when you look to the cross on which Jesus died? What does it say/mean for you?
When I look at the cross… I see immense love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, compassion, reconciliation, healing….
I wonder if the beam, the cross we are invited to carry as committed followers Jesus, as disciples – is a life transformed by the holy Spirit – a life that reflects backs to others love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness…. what we have received from Jesus.
I believe when we can begin to reflect Jesus in such a way to others when we live as committed followers of Jesus, disciples.
The disciples after walking alongside Jesus, living life together realized the power of prayer. The disciples realized that prayer was key, top priority in Jesus’ life and it needs to be key in our life too. God is most interested in relationship – an open, ongoing relationship that takes commitment. Life is a process of learning to walk with God, learning to relate and communicate with God in prayer. Be committed to live with open hands and an open heart reflecting Christ – carrying the cross – pointing others to Jesus. Amen.