Luke 9:46-62 “Leaving All For Jesus”
The lines that we read about Jesus not having a hole like a fox to stay in or a nest like a bird is very poetic language from Jesus to say that he is homeless. Did you catch that? Jesus was for the last three years of his life while he was doing the ministry very much without a roof over his head. So, as Christians we follow a longhaired, bearded, Middle-Eastern homeless guy—from twenty centuries ago.
I think my parents were always okay with my going into the ministry. They encouraged me in fact. Of course, I never put into these terms: “Mom, Dad, I want to leave home and follow some homeless guy.” I asked this question in the Middle School Bible Club, who would want to choose to be a homeless person at the end of their standard education. Nobody volunteered!
You may have noticed that I am playing into some societal preconceptions about being homeless. Perhaps some of us have had bad experiences with homeless people, migrants, or the like. For instance, I was once attacked by a homeless woman with a knife. That was in Los Angeles many years ago. I have felt threatened and endangered many more times.
Once in Germany I got into a taxi with a Middle Eastern driver. We spoke German of course. He eventually asked me where I was from because “Most Germans never talk to me,” he said. I told him that I was from the US. His response, “Ich hasse alle Amerikaner. Ich will Ihnen toeten.” (I hate all Americans. I want to kill you.) He was from Iraq. We bombed his house and killed his wife. He had come to Germany to escape the war. To note, he decided not to kill me. That would have been the end of my sermon, right?!
The other thing is that perhaps we have been homeless or forced to move from our homes ourselves. Several times in my life I have felt the dread and desperation of not having a place to stay overnight. This is the very start of Jesus’ life on this planet—there was no place for him at the Inn, so he was born in a lowly stable. He was born homeless! He was born as a migrant. After his birth he was forced to flee to Egypt even for safety.
When we read our bibles, we have to note that even Adam and Eve were homeless. And, they were forced out of Eden. Abraham and Sarah were immigrants to Israel. Really the whole bible from start to finish is a journal of homeless migrants. I think it is amazing today that we have a faith based on Jesus who was a homeless migrant during his incredible ministry, yet we have a societal predisposition against the homeless migrant!
On Easter morning at the sunrise service, pastor Scott said something that really warmed my heart. We were meeting under a tent on the cliff. He said, ”Yeah, I like meeting outdoors under a tent. That is where my ministry started.” I like this because our own church started out under a simple grass lanai on the seashore in Waimea. All churches start out as homeless churches!
I have noticed in my studies of other religions that there always seems to be a recipe that one is supposed to follow: Whether they be the Ten Commandments, the Eight-fold Path of Buddha, or even a modern 12-step recovery program, we always see some kind of recipe for making the soufflé of life happen. A modern news anchor has just released a new book that talks about the nine disciplines that have made her life successful. WE are always expected to follow someone else’s recipe. Well, I have no recipe for you to follow today! That is because Jesus has no recipe. Jesus is not about bondage to a philosophy but freedom in a relationship with God.
Along comes Jesus and his take on life is completely different. He does not try to sell us on a better recipe at all. He says, get out of the kitchen. God can do little with your life if you are stuck at the kitchen table reading the next recipe. Leave the cookbooks of how to live righteously behind. Just leave it. Step out. Walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)!
Our scripture actually starts with the disciples following the same old human recipe for success: jockeying up for a leadership position that will give you stature over someone else. Work from the standpoint of human pride! Who will be the best among us?!
I heard tell that on Easter Sunday at a sister church of ours a famous movie star showed up to worship. Someone in the regular church recognized her, so the story of her being there has spread. You know what? That church must be a better church because they have movie stars! Right? I wonder if some people might be at that church this morning to see if the movie star will come back. I do not know.
This is what we do. We always look for what is better, newer, more power oriented for ourselves. We want to worship where the better people worship. We are prideful people!
I am still looking for that part of the Bible in which Jesus goes and hangs out with the movie stars! Yes, he has dinner with some Pharisees, but that is just so he can help save some sinners, right?
The bible is really clear: There is only one person whom you should get to know. That is Jesus. Nobody else is as important as Jesus. Leave your human pride behind and follow Jesus.
The next thing we read in today’s text is that there were some people whom the disciples did not know healing in the name of Jesus. The disciples are upset because they see some kind of infringement of copyright. They think they have the exclusive franchise to Jesus. In layman’s terms, they think they own Jesus.
Newsflash: Nobody owns Jesus! Do you ever watch the cable news shows? Everything they ever have to say starts with the words “Breaking News.” Most of the time it is a lead story that was thought up two days before. There is nothing “breaking” about it. But, maybe this morning this is breaking news to some of us! It is Sunday morning at 10:30am. Other churches are also worshipping Jesus right now! And, you know what, they did not ask my permission.
You cannot own Jesus. You cannot put him in a box with a bow and wrapping paper. Jesus is a real person. He walked the planet. He made friends and disciples. Again, it is all about the relationship that we have with our personal savior—so that we belong to him. We do not own the name of Jesus!
Recently in the news we have heard about all of our personal information being monetized and sold through a social media website. As it turns out, we all thought that we were simply getting an account, a bit of free webspace from this social media site. As it turns out, they were getting us. We used to ask “Do you have Facebook?” Now we ask “Does Facebook have you, too?” Don’t let them own you. You are a child of Christ. You belong to Jesus, not to the plastic screen in front of your face!
Jesus paid the ultimate price for you. 1 Cor. 6:20 “You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.”
The next thing we read in our scripture for today is this incident in Samaria when the people rejected Jesus because his “face was set towards Jerusalem.” We need a little back story on this to remember that the Samaritans, although they worshipped the God of Moses and Abraham, did not worship that same God in the temple in Jerusalem. The thought that Mount Gerazim in Samaria was a good place to worship rather than Jerusalem that was so far away. So, there was a lot of bad blood between the Samaritans and their brothers and sisters in Judah and Israel.
Today we refer to Samaritans in a difference light because of the story that Jesus tells of the good Samaritan who helps the stranger on the side of the road when the established priests and Levites ignore him. Today we name hospitals after the “Good Samaritan.”
One might say that it was the Samaritans’ mistrust of the established religion that caused them to turn away from accepting Jesus. It is almost as if the good people (the good Samaritans” do not want to follow Jesus because Jesus is going to be with all the bad people in Jerusalem.
It is like the good person who does not want to worship in church because of all the sinners and hypocrites in church. This is so self-defeating! Just leave all that hypocrisy behind and simply follow Jesus! There will be good people and bad people in Jerusalem. There will be good people and bad people in Samaria. Just leave all that fundamentalism behind and follow Jesus.
Jesus has called us to follow. You cannot follow unless you leave. Step one on this journey of faith with Jesus is to leave all that nonsense behind you. Leave it all for the sake you have in faith of Jesus Christ. And, one day, we do not if it will be tomorrow, we are going to leave it all behind anyway.