09082019 13th Sunday After Pent 12AT Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

Discipleship means following Jesus!

09082019 13th Sunday After Pent 12AT Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA
September 8, 2019
“Discipleship means following Jesus!”
Sermon Audio

When Jesus spoke our Gospel this morning, Jesus isn’t using kid gloves.  Jesus steps down from teaching where most have experienced Him and steps out and states clearly, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”  I believe all of us gathered here today at Emmanuel want to be good and faithful ‘disciples’ of Jesus Christ.  We have the desire to follow Jesus and want to be accepted by Jesus and we want to be loved by Jesus unconditionally.  Yet Jesus words here are difficult not only to hear, but also for us to heed in our 21st Century world, but Jesus knew this, but still wants us hear His Words as His own and His desire for we His disciples today.

We know being a disciple of Jesus is not a glamorous life.  Looking back we know what Jesus experienced on the Cross. Jesus out of His love for us and all of mankind, paid the ultimate sacrifice for us and for our salvation with His death on Calvary.  So when He states that we need to ‘bear our own cross and follow Him’ this seems opposite of what love and free grace from Him is all about. We look to the price and cost of what Jesus paid on the Cross and hear that discipleship requires more from each and everyone of us and we naturally move away from discipleship, not because our faith is weak, but because we fear our future and what it requires of each and everyone of us.  As well, there is an individual that comes who sees us and our doubt and is ready to ‘cull us away from the herd’, move us away from safety found in Jesus by using human emotions and feelings of doubt and anger or misinformation or false perception as a weapon of fear against the facts and especially our faith.

Satan is using doubt and fear to control and manipulate us away from the safety we find in Jesus Christ and our being disciples.  Satan is controlling us and manipulating us to doubt God’s love, His free grace and what God wants us to experience as His disciples.  Our natural tendency is to dig in our heels against what we cannot explain or what is a vacuum or lack of information. Our society calls this a ‘lack of maturity’, when in reality it is actually a spiritual battle that is taking place within each and everyone of us.  A battle of wills where satan is attempting to hit us below the belt. When we are ‘hit below the belt’, how we respond shows our true character as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ.

Jesus continuing in our Gospel using the analogy of ‘building a tower’ is meant to expand His disciples ‘perceptual box’ of what ‘discipleship really means’.  In using this analogy, Jesus points out that when those who are disciples let ‘false priorities’ interfere with the mission or ministry, this ‘cripples discipleship’ among the people of God and this disrupts the sharing of God’s grace, which is satan’s end game.  Jesus wants His disciples to in what they do, to ‘complete the course and keep the faith’. Not to let satan overcome them, with lies or misrepresentations of the truth, but stand firm in the faith. And if it is required, for all disciples to be ready ‘to give up anything if duty to God calls for it.’  For by willingly sacrificing and doing this it is following God, finding one’s shelter in God and His promises and truly gives glory not to self, but to God for eternity.

This week, with the events that have been occuring in the Bahamas and the Carolina’s, I have been reminded of a picture I first encountered in 1997.  With Hurricane Dorian battering the Bahamas and the East Coast, destroying everything in its path. Stalling out over the Bahamas and destroying life and limb, the destructive nature of mother nature in the sea makes one wonder, what if anything could provide a refuge to and from the sea that can devastate in the manner we have all seen from the news reports, Facebook and even some of our own family and friends.  Enter the picture of a man off the coast of France in the North Atlantic at the Breton lighthouse during a nor'easter. His sole purpose was to inhabit a lighthouse and insure its light would not be extinguished so that ships would be able to navigate the perilous rocky shoals. During this storm a helicopter flew to the lighthouse with a photographer by the name of Jean Guichard to capture what the sea looked like as it assaulted the lighthouse that was a beacon of hope and protection for many a sailor who sailed those perilous waters.

Having heard the helicopter coming, the lighthouse keeper Théodore Malgorn went down to the entrance at the base of the lighthouse to see what was happening.  The picture captured many years ago showed a wave that when it crashed against the lighthouse on the opposite side of the open door with the lighthouse keeper rose to the height of the structure, 157 feet.  Later when Malgorn was asked about the event, he said, if he had not rushed back inside and closed the door, the sea would have claimed his life. But, only by seeking protection inside the lighthouse, was his life spared from certain death.

We who gather here today have like Malgorn gathered together in the shelter offered by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ here inside Emmanuel from the arrows and lies of satan and our society.  Like the lighthouse off the coast of Brittany, that sheltered Malgorn when the waves of the sea would have easily washed him away and killed him, we find here in God’s house that God in Jesus Christ is our refuge and our tower of strength that we need in our daily lives.  When we follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and take up our cross as disciples of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we find the strength in Jesus that enables us to be the disciples that lay claim to Jesus Christ Cross and help us to cling to Jesus Christ.

May we today and every day when we feel overwhelmed by the sea of doubt, the waves of uncertainty and the clear winds of change, come, enter into God’s house and find refuge and strength in what Jesus offers us in the Gospel of our salvation.  In this way we then strengthened by the Cross of Christ and His sacrifice can take up our cross as disciples and follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN.