August 9, 2022

Committed Followers of Christ 26-06-2022

26th June 2022 (Pentecost 3)

Sermon Title: Committed Followers of Christ  

(Luke 9:51–62) 

                                                                                  By Heeyoung Lim

22nd of June was Uniting Church’s 45th Anniversary. We celebrate the Union of three different denominations in Australia. Thankfully, we are still working very hard to live out the spirit of the union and reconciliation in the love of Christ and the light of God’s words. 

Before sharing today’s text, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the Lord’s Great Commission through the Gospel of Matthew 28 in relation to the United Church’s anniversary.

Jesus’ final words on earth testify the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and serve a central purpose and mission to all believers of “making disciples”. The Gospel of Matthew serves to equip us for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. 

Jesus calls us to make disciples as the body of Christ, unites us in common purpose Jesus has given us, and lets us abide in love and confidence. We are all different but come together as one as Jesus’ disciples. Furthermore, this gives us confidence as the Lord promised to be with us until the end. 

There are three participles that are subordinate to the central command to make disciples. Each of these are going, baptising, and teaching. Due to a limited amount of time, I will only share “going” today. 

 “Going” is one of the three means by which to fulfill the central command to make disciples. It is not just traveling across geographical borders, but it means crossing boundaries, and going beyond one’s comfort zone to make the gospel accessible to the lost. Going should be a part of our daily lives. Going also implies our support of people who are literally going to other cultures. We are members of team “Uniting” and parts of Lord’s team who “go” in fulfillment of the Great Commission. May our faith journey and our “goings” be accomplished with warm blessings and prayers of our congregation members. 

All the authority of Jesus goes with us and empowers us, wherever we go, baptise, and teach, as we fulfill our mandate to make disciples. The risen Christ is always with us. May we walk and join with him in fulfilling the Great Commission through making disciples of Jesus.

In the process of becoming one and uniting in Christ, may we not forget to make disciples as a common goal, not to be complacent in our comfort zones, and fulfill Christ’s Great Commission together in the love of God.

Jesus’ disciples were to make more disciples through all the nations. It is significant that Matthew ended his Gospel with one more reference to the Gentile mission, challenging the Jewish Christians to lose their prejudices and unify the church. This invites us to break down any artificial boundaries erected by our culture and differences.

As Jesus’ disciples, we do not just love God, we praise God, we worship God, and we thank God. We also follow and imitate Jesus in faith and life by walking in love.  

Regarding our Uniting Church and Leighmoor Uniting Church, the best moment is yet to come, and we are on the way. The journey sometimes can be rough, but we can move forward gradually, learning to love as Jesus loves, growing towards the fullness of Christ.

May we think daily of Jesus’ resurrection and what it means to us and obey Jesus’ command to make disciples of all communities and nations by going, baptising, and teaching. I pray that we can rely on Jesus’ promised presence and power as we make disciples together.

In Luke 9, Jesus met racial prejudice and rejection when He and the disciples were on the journey to Jerusalem passing Samaria. Samaritans refused hospitality to anyone who was headed for Jerusalem. 

Just as people of Nazareth expressed prejudice against the hometown person when Jesus opened his ministry, so the Samaritans expressed opposition as Jesus closed his public ministry and turned to Jerusalem. There are times when we experience rejection or opposition in our devotion and service, but may we walk together on the path that the Lord will lead us no matter what happens.

Prejudice and revenge grabbed the disciples, and they wanted to show how much power Jesus has or they have. The disciples had not yet learned how to concentrate on the mission of preaching the kingdom and healing the sick. They had not learned to depend on God to empower their mission. They had not learned to love all people as Jesus did. So, Jesus rebuked the judgmental disciples.

Jesus had told the disciples before they went on mission that some villages would reject them. He told them to kick the dust off their feet and go on. Jesus has shown His openness to all people who would commit themselves to his work, now turned to Jerusalem to complete his work through the predicted betrayal, death, and resurrection. Luke notes that his ultimate destiny is to be taken to heaven, but Christ’s Road to heaven led through Golgotha, Calvary, and the open tomb. 

What do we really mean when we say we will follow you wherever you go? Are people following to see miracles, be where the action is, and gain God’s blessings? Or are we following because we are devoted to the mission and ready to take up the cross? In verse 58, Jesus knew the cost. He did not have a resting place as secure as the fox’s den or the bird’s nest. He owned nothing and had no assurance of a place to sleep.

Jesus addresses the cost of picking up the mantle of discipleship in his name. The theme of passing on and picking up the prophetic work for God’s justice in the world is clear in the passages for today. Who are our spiritual friends and faith teachers who have helped us understand or grow the Christian faith? In our baptism, we are called to pick up the mantle of discipleship and move forward. Where do we experience the challenge and cost of responding to God’s call?

When a man declared his commitment to Christ, Jesus told him what this commitment meant. Jesus invited him to follow, the man hesitated because of parents. Jesus answered that commitment to him takes precedence over all commitments that earthly traditions would place on you. When he calls, you must answer here and now and follow immediately wherever he leads us. When Jesus heard another man’s declaration, he said that the call to follow is a call to follow without excuse, without delay. Jesus said, “Come. Follow. Now.” Once we respond to the call, we have a permanent job or life-long job.

Each of us is called to be God’s committed disciple and co-worker in the ministry of peace and reconciliation. May our “going” to those who are in need will happen and continue more and more in our lives. I hope that we can all be able to present the Lord’s peace and reconciliation to our family, friends, neighbours, and church family through our “going”, which is one of the essentials for making disciples. May the love of Christ abolish the unnecessary walls in our lives. I pray we’ll be confident in God’s power and be united as one in Christ.

In today’s text, Jesus demanded commitment to mission from his followers and he demonstrated that commitment to them through his own dedication to life-giving ministry, providing salvation for all on the cross. As Messiah, Jesus had to face the cross rather than seek the throne his followers expected. Committed followers of Christ are willing to surrender earthly goods and comforts to do God’s work. They value suffering for Him more than what the world values. 

However, Jesus’ followers do not automatically have God’s power to do his work without prayer and commitment. May we ask for God’s power and expect Him to do His work through us. May we follow Jesus and look for God to do his work in his cross-carrying ways rather than in the world’s power-producing ways. May we find those whom we can help in the name of Christ and spend time in prayer telling God how great we think he is. 

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)