The Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 8:19-22; Luke 9:57-62

Radical Discipleship

Today’s passage brings a radical call for discipleship that leaves most of us sitting still.  In these verses, Jesus allows no doubt about our priorities, demanding that he and the kingdom of God take first place.  We have already seen this in his call to Peter and Andrew, James and John, and Matthew, in which the he merely said, “Follow me,” and they did, even leaving family behind (Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9).  We must understand that when Jesus calls, he expects an immediate answer and not some tepid response that, more than anything else, is a measure of our commitment and love (the lack of, that is) towards him.

But there is a sense in which we must place this passage in context with the whole Bible.  We have seen on another occasion that our Lord condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes by allowing a man to not care for his aging parents on account of an alleged “loophole” in the law, thus abusing the law they supposedly honored (Matthew 15:1-9).  And Paul tells us that “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).  So how do we make sense of this?

We must be careful that we do not water down our Lord’s words.  In every instance, Jesus is telling people that discipleship has costs.  Theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said, “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die” (Cost of Discipleship).  Of course, we know that dying to self is the only way to live (Luke 9:23-24).  In the first instance, Jesus warns us that following him may leave us with few amenities; in the second, that serving the kingdom may require leaving beloved family members behind (in another place, we are warned that following Jesus may even sever family ties, Luke 12:49-53); in the third, that the kingdom requires urgent response.  We are called in no uncertain terms to love God above everything and everyone else.  Are we prepared to sell everything, give to the poor, and follow him, if he were to require that of us?  Are we willing to kiss our children and grandchildren goodbye if God were to call them to the mission field, even to a hostile place?  Is the kingdom foremost in our hearts and minds or do we secretly long for what the world has to offer with all of its precious trinkets – houses, cars, entertainment, retirement, or financial security?  Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  The kingdom calls us to greater living than we have allowed ourselves; let us not by satisfied with the dust and ashes of this life.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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