Introduction: When I contemplated this lesson for today, the old spiritual "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" kept ringing in my ears. The hymn proclaims that though I have decided to follow Jesus I will do so even if no one else will follow, even if it means that the cross will ever be before me. Today’s lesson is clear that there is indeed a cost to following Jesus. The question is are we willing to pay the price? I have not known many who have, but one such person, Bishop Lawson, who founded the ‘Ever Ready Church of Christ" was one such person. She lived in a dark shack like cave. She had little but what she had, she shared. One of her accomplishments she took great pride in was a community garden she encouraged alcoholics to help her with by allowing them to stay with her and providing them food as long as they stayed sober. When she stated that they would steal from her by taking her crop she threw back her head and gave a wonderful laugh and said that is just what she was hoping they would do!
I) Jesus tells those around him that unless they hate mother and father, brothers and sisters, even their own life they cannot be his disciple. I do not necessarily believe we should take this charge literally. Instead, I believe Jesus is underscoring the seriousness with which he understands discipleship to take on and the importance of taking it seriously.
II) We are left with the fact that in order to be a disciple we must be at the very least willing to hear Jesus’ words and then be willing to consider how it is we are to act upon them. He seems to be demanding that loyalty to him takes precedence above all else.
III) When we listen to the Gospel carefully we may wonder at times how it is that those around Jesus would abandon him in the end even after seeing all his great works and listening to his incredible teaching. The problem was that the demands he made upon his followers was no small thing and the reward they were to receive was not easily discernable. We seek power and things and Jesus talks about servitude and giving what we have away to others. As is the case at other times, Jesus over emphasizes his statement in order to make the point of just how difficult it is to be a disciple. Bishop Lawson would end up losing her life to a gun man during a robbery. She lived her life caring for and serving others despite the fact she had the ability to leave the area she was in and move to a safer area in a far nicer home. Her decision to follow Jesus was one I shall never forget as an example of discipleship that came at the cost of her own life having given what she had away to others in order to do all in her power to help those in need.