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This week's sermon:

            Luke 14:25-33  -  "The Cost of Discipleship"
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The mark of a great leader is the demands he makes upon his followers. The Italian freedom fighter Garibaldi offered his men only hunger and death to free Italy. Winston Churchill told the English people that he had nothing to offer them but "blood, sweat, toil, and tears" in their fight against the enemies of England. Jesus demanded that his followers carry a cross. A sign of death.


Andrew died on a cross

Simon was crucified

Bartholomew was flayed alive

James (son of Zebedee) was beheaded

The other James (son of Alphaeus) was beaten to death

Thomas was run through with a lance

Matthias was stoned and then beheaded

Matthew was slain by the sword

Peter was crucified upside down

Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows

Philip was hanged


The demands that Jesus makes upon those who would follow him are extreme. Christianity is not a Sunday morning religion. It is a hungering after God to the point of death if need be. It shakes our foundations, topples our priorities, pits us against friend and family, and makes us strangers in this world. We sing, "What A Friend We Have in Jesus." But, we must come to see that on many occasions he is not our friend but our adversary.


One day, as Jesus was being followed by a large crowd, he turned on the them, sensing that the demands of discipleship were not getting through, he told two parables. In these parables we learn the three great requirements of Christianity. To follow Jesus:


1. We must establish our priorities.

2. We must count the cost.

3. We must pay the price.


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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....


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