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Sermon : Sodom and Gomorrah

Discipleship: Luke 9:23-26

The love of self is the greatest of hindrances to discipleship,34 and in fact is in no way compatible with the Christian life. Christianity is fundamentally orientated toward the other, and true love is self-emptying so that God and others are permitted to fill the empty space.35 Thus, it is no longer the self that commands the disciple's existence, but it is in fact Christ.36 God is to be the center, and the disciple is to cease making the self the object of life and action.37 In this way, the Christian's ultimate satisfaction and indeed concern is not their own well-being and physical survival, but the good of their brother and sister, and the fulfillment of the will of God.38 In the measure that the disciple takes leave of themselves, so Christ and others fill them.39 Therefore the cross is a challenge to self-life, and an enemy of selfishness and pride - it is God's weapon of destruction.40 The disciple's self is crucified with Jesus and the resurrected Christ takes its place. Each day is lived for Christ and not for the self.41

The theological writings of the early Church had an awareness rooted in experience and the witness of Scripture that the persecution of Christians was not abnormal.42 A disciple of Jesus had to be willing to set aside their interests and wishes into the background and accept wholeheartedly the sacrifice and suffering that may be endured.43 Here Luke adds καθ'kath' (kath)
The Greek preposition κατα meaning 'down,' 'against,' or 'according to.'
ημερανhemeran (hay-meh-ran)
Accusative Feminine Singular from the Greek noun ημερα meaning 'day.'
, which is to say 'daily' or 'day by day' to this denial of self and cross-bearing.44 The Way of the Cross must be done bravely and cheerfully every day of the week45 - not only sometimes, or when one is feeling strong enough to do it. Some disciplines are indeed occasional, coming to us only in certain circumstances, but cross-bearing is a continuous task.46 The cross is not something to carry, lay aside every now and then, and then pick it up again. The word 'daily' emphasises the continual nature of the commitment made.47 The imitatio Christi is much more than merely a momentary decision or surviving the occasional external testing:48 The Christian life is a daily dying to one's self, even as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:31. Indeed, daily the Christian is to be ready to shed his/her blood for Christ.49 The way of the disciple is the continuation of the path walked by the Master, which was a path of suffering first and glory second,50 and the disciple must endure to the end for to look back renders him unfit for discipleship.51

Indeed, discipleship is a forsaking of all to follow Christ - an abandonment of all material possessions that are not absolutely essential.52 Jesus says that to seek pleasure and happiness in life selfishly is doomed to failure - in fact, it is spiritual suicide.53 Christ's next words are that should anyone want to save his life, he will lose it, 'but whoever loses his life for me will find it' (Luke 9:24). There may be no English word to accurately translate the meaning of the Greek ψυχηpsyche (psoo-kay)
, which is sometimes translated as 'life' and other times as 'soul.'54 The truest sense is in fact more of a combination of the two.55 Jesus here is not speaking of 'life' in the sense of physical life as opposed to death, nor 'soul' in the sense of some spirit that animates the body - no, Jesus is referring to all that makes up the real self.56 Many people prefer to save their own lives in the sense that they desire to retain their time, talents, and possessions; however, doing this loses them.57 That is, it is futile to cling to one's life for paradoxically it results in losing it.58 It is only what is given to Christ that truly endures, so that what we give to God is what we keep forever.59 Jesus tells us that to build up our treasures on earth is adultery, while none who live sacrificially for Christ will ever suffer want.60 If the disciple lays his life upon the altar in service to Christ, striving for His honour and the extension of God's Kingdom - while keeping the self truly in the background - then he will find authentic life and joy here and hereafter.61 If one is so fearful of losing their real self that he refuses to take up his cross and follow Jesus, He will come to a worse death, for living without meaning is what truly loses the real self.62 While to deny Christ one may save their physical life, they will lose their eternal life - but to lose one's physical life in faithfulness to Christ is to assure salvation.63 Indeed, for personal fulfillment comes in the fulfillment of the brothers and sisters since, as mentioned above, the Christian has been detached from the self to be filled by God and others.64 Thus, it is not one's own life that is of ultimate concern, but the advancement of God's kingdom and the progress in the faith of fellow Christians.

  1. Ibid., p.6.
  2. Lesbaupin, Persecuted, p.35.
  3. Ibid., p.34.
  4. Baker, New Testament, p.168.
  5. Lesbaupin, Persecuted, p.33-35.
  6. Ibid., p.34.
  7. Powell, Thrilling Gospel, p.225.
  8. Baker, New Testament, p.243.
  9. Lesbaupin, Persecuted, p.46.
  10. Geldenhuys, Commentary, p.276.
  11. Johnson, Luke, p.152.
  12. Morrison, Morrison, p.87.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Summers, Universal Saviour, p.111.
  15. Johnson, Luke, p.155.
  16. Lesbaupin, Persecuted, p.47.
  17. Johnson, Luke, p.152.
  18. MacDonald, Discipleship, p.8.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Geldenhuys, Commentary, p.276.
  21. Summers, Universal Saviour, p.111.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Powell, Thrilling Gospel, p.225.
  25. Baker, New Testament, p.243.
  26. Powell, Thrilling Gospel, p.225.
  27. MacDonald, Discipleship, p.11.
  28. Geldenhuys, Commentary, p.276.
  29. Summers, Universal Saviour, p.111-112.
  30. Baker, New Testament, p.169.
  31. Lesbaupin, Persecuted, p.36.