Sermon for Pentecost 13 – 9.4.22

+ 13th Sunday after Pentecost – September 4th, 2022 +

Series C: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-35

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA


“Discipleship and the Cross”


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


If you look at an aerial view of the Assumption Cathedral in Dubrovnik, Croatia, you’ll quickly notice its cross-shaped architecture and its central location in town’s. Wherever you are around town, life is oriented around the cross.


So it is for the life of Jesus’ disciples. Your life as Jesus’ disciple, as a baptized child of God, is oriented around the cross of Christ. In fact from the moment you first believed, from the day of your baptism and every day since, your life is marked by the cross. To be Jesus’ disciple is to bear the cross. You can’t have one without the other.


If we walk through today’s gospel reading of Luke 14 without keeping our eyes on Christ and his cross we’ll quickly become disoriented, lost. With Jesus crucified in focus, however, we’ll get a proper view of things, especially when he says difficult things like this…


“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”


Whoa. Wait a minute, you’re probably thinking. I thought Jesus was all about family. Love your neighbor. Hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters – that doesn’t sound like family friendly Jesus. And even hating my own life? What about my self-esteem? This all sounds rather cruel and confusing.


Jesus is using the Old Testament use of the word hate in this context. Not a rage-filled emotional hatred. It’s an ordering, a preference, a prioritizing of this first, then that. Like when Isaac loved Rebeka more than, or hated, Leah.


Think back to the image of the town with the cross-shaped church at the center. Now imagine that town is a picture of your life, your heart, faith, trust, and devotion. But instead of a cross-shaped church in the middle of your life, you’ve built an ornate shrine to your father, mother, wife, children, sister, or brother. Or perhaps a lavish temple with your own portrait above the altar. And all the while, that cross-shaped church keeps getting pushed further and further down the street and out of town.

This is what Jesus is getting at here. Who or what is the center of your life – your faith, love, and trust – as his disciple, as God’s baptized, holy child? Is it Christ crucified or something or someone else?


Or think of it this way, “What happens when we love our father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters more than we love Christ? What happens when we love ourselves and follow our own passions and desires more than we love Christ? What happens is that we turn God’s good gifts of love, family, and care of our own well-being into idols where our every thought, care, and desire is curved and twisted inward upon ourselves, rather than outward in love towards Christ and others.


If we’re honest, we come to the conclusion. “Lord, I haven’t done that. I’m a total failure. My heart and will and trust are a tangled, cobwebbed mess of thoughts, desires, and loves…”


This is why Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. And this is why Jesus says what he says next, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”


To be Jesus’ disciple is to bear the cross. And the cross is death. Jesus means for us to die. There’s no escaping it. We either die alone clinging to our idols and self-serving love, or we die and rise again with Christ and in the love of Christ crucified and risen. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” says Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is what Jesus’ call to discipleship means. To die to sin. To put to death our desires and passions.


There’s a cost to being Jesus’ disciple. Count the cost, Jesus yells us. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.


And again, if we’re honest, we’re probably all thinking something like, “Lord, I can’t pay it. That’s too much for me.”


And you’re right. It is too high a cost. It is too steep a price. We cannot pay the cost of discipleship.


Truth is, there’s only one who can. And He has. And He did it all for you.


Jesus bears the cost of discipleship. That’s the good news hidden in today’s Gospel. Jesus bears the cost. He lays down His life to save the world. He becomes the world’s Sin. He dies your Death. Jesus counted the cost of being the world’s Savior. Jesus counted the cost of rescuing you from your Sin and Death. And it was worth every drop of His holy, precious blood to save you. He gave up everything that was His – His honor, glory, dominion, power, His entire life – and for the joy of your salvation, He set His face to Jerusalem to die. He took up His cross to save you.


He didn’t ask you to choose Him. He chose you. He baptized you. He called you by His Spirit. You were dead and God made you alive in Christ. You were dead and God rebirthed you by water and Spirit. You were captive to Sin and Death, and God made you free in Christ. Before you believed, before you were born, before you ever were, Christ was your Savior and Lord and Redeemer. You didn’t choose Him; He chose you. Even if you came to faith as an adult and sought out Baptism, you still didn’t choose Him. He chose you. He laid His cross on you, to put your sin to death, and raised you to new life.


That’s what happens to you as Jesus disciples. Jesus’ death and resurrection reorders and transforms everything. You were dead and now you are alive. Jesus completely reorients our life around his cross.

“Hating your life” in this life means letting go of your life as you hold it so that you can receive it as Christ holds it. Renouncing your life means letting go of your control of it recognizing that Christ has better control of it. Hating father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister, does not mean dishonoring them or doing evil to them, or even feeling negatively toward them.


It is, rather, Jesus teaching us that there are two ways to live as disciples. We can hold things, including our family and even own life, in a death grip, and in the end we will lose everything. Or we can instead hold everything with an open, dead hand of faith, knowing that God in Christ holds these things for us in a way that we cannot. Your entire life as Jesus’ disciple is oriented around His cross.


For you, Jesus’ disciples, His cross is your way of life. And even as you bear the cross, He carries you.


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

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Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

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Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

By appointment only June and July


2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
(253) 922-6977
(253) 922-6977