Pastor's Blog

The Cost of Following Jesus

D. A. Carson makes a pointed observation about the 'misunderstood Messiah.' I will not quote Dr. Carson at length, but you can read him in full in the book, "His Mission: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke" (Crossway Pub., 2015, pp. 50,51)

 

When we hear Peter’s answer to Jesus’s identity question, “The Christ of God,” (Lk. 9.20) we assume Peter must mean the “Christ” who went to the cross, died and rose again.

Peter did not mean that “Christ.” ‘Christ’ means ‘someone who is anointed.’ Kings, prophets and priests were anointed in the name of God. Peter discerns God’s anointing upon Jesus and Jesus commends him for it. Peter (c.f. Matthew & Mark) wants to prevent Jesus from dying on the cross and Jesus rebukes him for it.

Though Jesus would repeatedly tell His disciples of His death and resurrection they didn’t believe Him. They had no frame of reference. Dying on the cross as a sacrifice for sin and being raised from the dead had never happened before. The apostles would need the rest of their lives to understand Jesus’s death and resurrection. Only the Holy Spirit could make sense of it to them.

Jesus requires His followers take up a cross to follow Him. Jews found the cross repugnant. It was Roman, therefore pagan. It was violently cruel, therefore inhumane. It was a tool of political oppression, therefore to be resisted. The cross was cursed from God, therefore to be rejected in the name of God.

But Jesus chose His words with precision. He meant, “If you would follow me then you must follow Me to death … and shame.” Even though He told them of being raised again, they didn’t hear it. All they heard was the cross and death.

Bearing the cross to the death is the cost of following Jesus. It will take everything you have. You will receive true life. You will see the face of God. You will know and be truly, lovingly known.

 

Posted by Tim Alexander with

The People You Meet

We gladly make time for people like Nicodemus, a prominent person. When the opportunity comes to eat with the powerful we take it. Jesus ate with them. Rich people need Jesus, too.

Jesus saw people most of us don’t see. While at a hotel do we “see” the people who clean our rooms? Do we “see” the cooks and servers who make our special holiday meals happen?

Do we “see” the strain on the face of the single Mom grocery shopping with kids in tow? The red-eyed daughter leading her elderly, distracted father through the ordeal of a check-up?  Do we “see” the people whose social awkwardness make us flinch with inner discomfort? If we “see,” do we look away?

Jesus saw the funeral parade of Luke 7.11-17. Rituals for the dead in our time focus on the funeral ceremony. The location. Who speaks? What music? Any special remembrances?

In Jesus’s day emphasis was on the funeral procession. How loud the wailing? How many men held the bier above their shoulders as throngs of mourners swirled about them? How many singers? What dirges? Dust was thrown in the air. Sometimes men tore their shirts as a demonstration of overwhelming grief.

In this surging stream of sorrow Jesus saw one woman: the dead man’s mother. He had been her only son. Her social safety net was covered by a burial cloth. Jesus saw … her. Stopping the noisy parade (shocking!), He  touched the unclean bier and raised the son back to life.  “Jesus gave him back to his mother.”

Let’s say you’re a disciple walking with Jesus on that day. Would you have seen the mother? How would you have responded?

Walking with Jesus presses us to see people often overlooked.  Walking with Jesus presses us to enter their pain and, perhaps, provide hope and relief.  What a glorious challenge! What a glorious Master to follow.

 

Posted by Tim Alexander with

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