Sermon Script: Luke 9:18-27
Sermon Purpose: Either we are disciples of Jesus Christ or else we’re just volunteers.
Sermon Title: Rebellious Disciples

There are a number of theories out there about which sin is the root of all evil. Some have argued money is the root of all evil. Others have offered vanity as the root of all evil. While still others have argued for avarice or the desire to have more of whatever it is we don’t feel like we have enough. I think the root of all evil is pride. Pride led Adam and Eve to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve wanted it. They felt themselves capable of handling it. So they took fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Pride led Adam and Eve to destroy themselves and all of creation. It was Adam and Eve’s pride which introduced sin into the world and we have nurtured sin, and its result – evil, ever since. The difference is now the Son of God has come. Jesus Christ was born into the world like one of us. Jesus Christ grew up, lived, and worked like one of us. The Christ died like one of us, and on that bright Easter morning we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Rest assured sisters and brothers Sunday’s coming. Amen? Amen. Amen?! Amen! But until then we have a choice to make. What will we allow to have dominion over our lives? Will we be ruled by our selfish pride, or will we be ruled by the love of God?

In this morning’s passage Jesus asks the disciples who the disciples think Jesus really is, and it is Peter who answers, “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20). That sounds like a fine and good thing to say so long as the Christ is a conquering king like king David. Surely the Christ will conquer all and as His disciples we will sit at Christ’s side. Like fruit hanging from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil it is so tempting to think this way. It is so tempting to think we deserve or are entitled to what Christ is offering. But then Jesus flips things around as Jesus often does. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Luke 9:22). Jesus is telling them their conquering king Messiah is going to be rejected and killed. Wait a sec. How are we to gain that wonderful position if the Christ is going to be killed? There is not much to like about that statement. How are we going to be princes, or nobles over the world if the king is going to be rejected and die? That’s not how it works. Conquering kings conquer and those who travel with them take a share of the spoil. Jesus just said Jesus is not going to win. Jesus just said He is going to die.

Then Jesus goes further, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23,24). It should become clear Jesus is talking about giving something up. Jesus is talking about living a sacrificial life. Jesus has just told the disciples He is going to suffer, be rejected, and die. Now Jesus is telling the disciples anyone who wants to follow Jesus – anyone who wants to follow in the dust of the rabbi, Jesus Christ, must be willing to reset their priorities. True disciples of Jesus have to rearrange their commitments. Rebellious disciples of Jesus Christ put Jesus first above entertainment, above spending time with friends, above relatives, above mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children and spouses (Luke 14:25-27). Rebellious disciples stand out against what this world says is important and puts Jesus Christ first. Of course Christ does not want us turn away from family and friends. However, Jesus is saying our rebellious allegiance to Christ must take center stage over all of our other relationships.

What separates run of the mill discipleship from rebellious discipleship is something more than being more diligent or disciplined. Run of the mill disciples can read their Bible, and give their tithe, and mumble through a few songs on Sunday morning. Run of the mill disciples come and help out at church when it’s convenient. We often talk about the church as being filled with volunteers who give of their time. Nobody here except the pastor, Kay and April are on staff. Everyone else gives out of their free time. I have run with this idea as the church being filled with volunteers for years now. Even going back to when I was one of those volunteers. Which is why I was startled when I read in Mike Slaughter’s book “Rebel Gospel: Renegade Jesus” that there is a difference between a volunteer and being a disciple. Volunteers give when it is convenient. Disciples give of themselves sacrificially.[1] Disciples look at their finances and give up things to be able to serve God. Disciples look at the way they spend their time and give up things to better serve God by serving others. Disciples give of themselves sacrificially where volunteers give of themselves when it’s convenient. Sisters and brothers true discipleship is a rebellious idea.

Let us be rebellious together. Let us set aside our pride, and our efforts to feel better about ourselves in this world by looking for comfort in our identity with Christ. It cannot be enough for us to claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. We must be willing to get up off of our pews and follow Jesus out side of those doors. Let us not hesitate. Let us not ask what’s in it for me? Let’s do what the disciples did. When Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee and saw Simon and Andrew tending their nets Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). When Jesus saw Levi sitting at his tax collectors booth Jesus simply said, “Follow me” (Luke 5:27). They did not hesitate. They did not stop to ask about where they would live or what they would eat. They simply went. They rebelled against what the world said was important and followed Jesus without question.

Now, here’s the part you might not expect. When we follow Jesus rebelliously it affects the way we see and do everything. Imagine how different our lives would be if we worked our jobs as if we were working for Jesus instead of just working for a pay check? Imagine how different our lives would be if we did our school work for Jesus instead of for a grade? Imagine if we cared for our families as if we were caring for Jesus? Imagine what it would be like if we went out and spoke to new people and invited them to church as if we were doing it for Jesus and not just to bringing our attendance numbers up. What would it look like if we if we were serving Jesus by the way we spent our money? How might worship become fuller and more rich if we shifted our focus away from the style of worship we like, or the style of worship we’ve always had to being focused on what is most pleasing to Jesus? However, the Holy Spirit encourages us to shift our focus this much is certain. We have to be willing to put God first for the rest of our lives to bear fruit for the kingdom of God. I love this quote written by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from a Birmingham jail cell.

“If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose it authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”[2]

Sisters and brothers if we would recapture that sacrificial spirit to become rebellious disciples of Jesus Christ we must lay aside our pride and rediscover for ourselves and for our church what it means to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength.

In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.

[1] Mike Slaughter, RENEGADE GOSPEL: The Rebel Jesus, (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House 2014) 103.

[2] Ibid., 112