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Sermon : Sodom and Gomorrah

Discipleship: Luke 9:23-26

One cannot buy salvation with the whole world.65 Although one could never gain the whole world, Jesus says that assuming one could, to do so is to lose the real self.66 Every disciple faces the decision to commit all to Jesus in a way that anticipates death - but this is not a loss.67 In fact, it is the realisation of life at its most meaningful and best.68 Through death and martyrdom, the Church believed that it was gaining the victory, even as Jesus gained the victory through His death and resurrection.69 Personal worth was not defined by the amount of material possessions one had, or by one's function in the community.70 Instead, one's personal worth was seen in the manner of life - that is, in one's practice.71 A Christian's life was so permeated with the presence of God that to deny one's faith was a greater torment than any physical suffering.72 To deny one's faith was to deny God, who was Friend, Father, Brother, Liberator, and King who saved.73 Those who denied and sought material gain would then let the world's view of Christ make them ashamed of Jesus.74 The famous example is, of course, Peter, who denied Jesus, and had the source of his shame in society.75 In his denial of Jesus, Peter sought to preserve his own life. Those who are ashamed of Jesus cannot identify with His glory, for if the disciple's character does not measure in the earthly state, neither will it measure in the heavenly.76 Since Jesus is to return in the glory of His Father as the Divine Judge of the world, He will determine the eternal destiny of all.77 Therefore, those who reject Christ out of love for the world, or for their own honour, or their own convenience, they will experience eternal condemnation.78 One cannot be considered a Christian if one is ashamed or afraid to be one.79

Where in Matthew and Mark, Jesus' remarks are made to His apostles, Luke includes all of the disciples as the audience: 'Then He said to them all' (Luke 9:23).80 Thus, the commands open themselves to all those who read them81 - they are not only for some, but for all. The same radicality of life was expected of both the laity and the leaders.82 All believers were to live the Gospel, giving a living account of the hope they held without hesitation.83 Without a doubt, the demand for the denial of self and cross-bearing is applied not only to the extraordinary person, but in fact to all disciples.84 Cross-bearing is a universally Christian thing, in that none can escape it.85 While not all Christians experience poverty, or know the hour of pain, all must experience the cross.86

Hence, Luke 9:23-26 sets out the foundational standard of discipleship. Despite its initial difficulty, one sees that the statements Jesus makes in this particular passage is wholly compatible with all other teachings of discipleship. Christianity, being orientated to the other, is an intimate relationship with God, who is to displace the self and be the centre of the disciple's life. Christ is the one in command of each follower's life, and if He is not than the believer has not fully accepted Christianity. Christianity is in no way an advancement of the self, or the individual, but instead is the pursuit of the Kingdom of God where His will rules and is completed. The path is the Way of the Cross, which inevitably will lead the disciple into conflict with the world, for the world asserts itself over and against the Lord. Thus, even as Jesus was rejected by the world, so too His followers must be rejected by the world, or Christianity has become complacent within it, exchanging Jesus' values for its own.

  1. Baker, New Testament, p.169.
  2. Summers, Universal Saviour, p.112.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Lesbaupin, Persecuted, p.61.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., p.35.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Baker, New Testament, p.243.
  11. Morrison, Morrison, p.93.
  12. Summers, Universal Saviour, p.112.
  13. Geldenhuys, Commentary, p.277.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Lesbaupin, Persecution, p.49.
  16. Johnson, Luke, p.151.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Lesbaupin, Persecution, p.48.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Johnson, Luke, p.155.
  21. Morrison, Morrison, p.86.
  22. Ibid.