First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, February 27, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
Luke 9:57-58; John 19:28-30
There is a growing recognition in most churches today about the need for discipleship. Over the past few Sundays, we have been thinking together about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I believe the gospel of Luke has some helpful insights about discipleship. The first eight chapters of Luke are focused on “who is Jesus?” But there’s a shift in chapter 9.
In Luke chapter 9, the identity of Jesus is revealed to the public after Peter’s confession that Jesus is not one more in a succession of prophets. His is not another Rabbi, but Jesus of Nazareth is the “Christ of God,” and the Messiah. From the time Jesus’ identity is revealed, Jesus begins to invite people to, “Follow me.”
So as we continue to wrestle with what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we continue to unpack Luke chapter 9:57-58. It’s a story of someone who had so much interest to follow Jesus as a disciple. Luke says, “As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Two observations from this story as we reflect on our discipleship this morning:
First: A Warning Against the False “god” of Convenience
We live in a world intent on making things convenient for us. Convenience has become a false “god” that many pursue today. Modern technology has made living more convenient and of course human bodies more lazy. We no longer desire to rise and cross the room to change the TV channel but only to use the remote control. In fact, with new voice technology, we are not even happy to push buttons on a remote any longer. Why we push a button if we can give a voice command? Commercials constantly tell us that this new product, whether it’s a car, a vacuum cleaner, or a recliner is more convenient for us. Today if it is not convenient, we leave it alone until we find something that is.
Our expectation of convenience is forever creeping into our spiritual lives as well. The only problem is that when Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me,” Jesus forgot to add the phrase, “which is when you find it convenient to do so.” In fact, it’s the opposite. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” said Jesus to the person who was interested to follow Him. Discipleship is not about convenience, rather, it’s about commitment.
Beware of the trap of convenience. Are we following because it’s convenient or because it’s the right and best thing to do? I have found that what is right to do is not always the convenient thing to do. I’ve even discovered that God expects us to do things at some very inconvenient times; to rejoice in our suffering; to give thanks in all circumstances; to give out of our poverty; to trust when doubts all around us; to love when we are hated; to follow when it’s not convenient. Seeking convenience could destroy our spiritual life. Let’s remember that Jesus does not call us to convenience but to commitment.
Second: The Disciple’s Rests When the Mission is Completed
As I said, discipleship isn’t about convenience, rather it’s about fulfilling the mission God has given us. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” You will love this.
One of the key words in Luke 9 is the Greek word, “κλίνῃ κεφαλὴν (Kline kephalen ~ to lay or rest one’s head). Luke gives us an image of someone who is extremely busy with their mission. The fact that Jesus had nowhere to lay His head does not mean that every Christian today is called to live a life of poverty. Even in Jesus’ day, some of His followers were wealthy, like Joseph of Arimathea. It’s an image of someone who is restless until mission is completed.
The gospel of John chapter 19:30 tells us that Jesus laid the head after completing His mission. He laid his head on the cross. John 19:30 says, “When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” “Bowed his head,” in Greek is “Κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν” (klinas ten kephalen ~ he bowed his head). It’s the same wording that we see in Luke 9:58.
We all have callings, missions in life; responsibilities and commitments; callings toward our families, jobs, and many other things. As Christians, following Christ, is our spiritual calling and it should be treated with the same importance as any other commitments. Our discipleship is as important as family and careers. It is worth of our energy and time.
Friends, the forces of today’s culture are almost all designed to build the opposite worldview into our minds. The world screams in our ears: maximize your comfort, ease, and security. Avoid all choices that might bring discomfort, trouble, difficulty, pain, or suffering. Add this cultural force to our natural desire as humans for immediate gratification and fleeting pleasures, and the combined power that hinders our discipleship life is just huge.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you today to be aware of the trap of convenience. Whether it’s convenient or not, Christ continues to call us, “Come, follow me!” Let’s remember that the disciple’s true rest is in fulfilling what God has called us to do. Time will come when your will lay your head with a smile on your face because mission has been accomplished. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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