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Daily Bible Verses | Conditions Of Discipleship Of Jesus | Take Up Your Cross And Follow Me | King James Audio Bible KJV

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Luke 14: 25-33 – Week 31 Ordinary Time, Wednesday (King James Audio Bible KJV, Spoken Word)

25 ¶ And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Jesus’ words to us in these verses may seem very strange indeed, even brutal. Are we really to hate our father, our mother, our family? We may recall the time when Jesus rejects his mother and family when they are calling him:

31 ¶ There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.
32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.
33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?
34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. (Mark 3: 31-35)

We may begin to interpret these difficult sayings when we think that the way of perfection is, in community, to love God with every fibre of our being; it is through our absolute love of God that there flows our love for our community, our fellow human beings, our neighbours, as Jesus teaches us to understand this term; and our worship in community also enables and strengthens our own belief, our own relationship with God.

Jesus may additionally be speaking in the light of a situation in his own time which we might recognize today, whereby, due to the prevailing social and economic situation, families close in upon themselves and the sense of belonging to a broader commonality is lost – save perhaps in some abstract, removed sort of way, via the tax man and the apparatus of state to provide vital services, and the television. People may have closed themselves within their immediate families, to the extent that they may not know their neighbours or the people who live in their locality. Society, in other words, has atomized. We know the social evils which thereby ensue. It may be that the spiritual evils are less well known, not least when, because of this social context, the spiritual sense of many may have atrophied.

Jesus often warns us about those things which obscure our relationship with God. The rich young man is told to sell everything he has and give the money to the poor. Those who dine well have just been told, in previous verses of this chapter of Luke, that it’s the poor and the sick, the dispossessed, who are invited to God’s banquet. The elders, the scribes and the Pharisees possess authority over how to interpret the Law, and through this false ownership they block the way to heaven for themselves and for the flock they are meant to guide. It seems the whole civic fabric needs tearing down and reconstructing – all the clutter needs taking out, the space needs clearing, so that we can have space to be with God properly.

This letting go is the way of prudence – this renunciation of everything we have is the cost of the tower or the king’s reckoning of the odds of success in battle. Perhaps the joy of this is that when we do let go of our attachments, and when we do direct ourselves utterly to love of God, then the love of our family and friends and the rest of mankind flows through us again in a new way, our relationship with all of our neighbours being renewed.

‘In this world let us love everyone, even though he be our enemy; but let us hate him who opposes our way to God, though he be our relative… We should, then, love our neighbour; we should have charity towards all – towards relatives and towards strangers – but without separating ourselves from the love of God out of love for them.’ St Gregory the Great

Concluding Prayer | Love Revealed By Jesus Christ

Lord God,
in your wisdom you created us,
by your providence you rule us:
penetrate our inmost being with your holy light,
so that our way of life
may always be one of faithful service to you.
We make our prayer through our Lord.

King James Audio Bible KJV | King James Version | Endnotes

Take Up Your Cross And Follow Me

Luke 14: 25-33 is a challenging passage in the New Testament, where Jesus speaks to a large crowd about the cost of discipleship. In this passage, Jesus says: ‘If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.’ (KJV) Jesus goes on to explain that whoever does not take up their cross and follow him cannot be his disciple.

At first glance, Jesus’ words may seem harsh and difficult to understand. Why would he ask us to hate our loved ones and to take up a cross? However, when we dig deeper into the context and meaning of these words, we can find a profound message that speaks to the heart of the Christian life.

First, we can understand that Jesus is using hyperbole to make a point. An interpretation is that Jesus is not literally asking us to hate our family members or to harm ourselves. Rather, Jesus is emphasizing the absolute commitment and loyalty that he expects from his disciples. Jesus is asking us to put him above all else, to love him more than anyone or anything else in our lives. Indeed, it can be said that it is through devotion to the life-source of all love – the God is love – that we are enabled to discover a most truthful love with our friends and family.

This idea of radical discipleship is not unique to Jesus. Throughout the Bible, we see examples of people who gave up everything to follow God’s call. Abraham left his home and family to follow God’s command. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt despite the risk to his own life. The prophets spoke out against injustice and faced persecution for their beliefs. And of course, Jesus himself gave his life on the cross for the sake of the world.

This idea of sacrificing everything for God is echoed in the teachings of many religious Christian figures throughout history. Saint Francis of Assisi famously gave up his wealth and comfort to live a life of poverty and service to others. Martin Luther King Jr. stood up against racial injustice and was willing to suffer for his cause. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to serving the poorest of the poor, even in the face of great suffering and opposition.

So what does it mean for us to take up our cross and follow Jesus? It means that we are called to follow Jesus in every aspect of our lives, even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable. It means that we are willing to put Jesus’ will above our own desires and preferences. And it means that we are willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake, just as Jesus suffered for ours.

This doesn’t mean that we should seek out suffering or harm ourselves in any way. But it does mean that we should be willing to endure hardship and persecution for the sake of the gospel. As Jesus says in Matthew 10:38,:‘And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.’ (KJV)

As the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2:20: ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ (KJV)

The early Church father Tertullian wrote in the second century: ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.’ Tertullian recognized that the willingness of Christians to suffer and even die for their faith has been a powerful witness to the world and has inspired countless others to follow Christ.

Similarly, the Protestant reformer Martin Luther emphasized the importance of faith in following Jesus. Luther wrote: ‘The cross of Christ is the way to paradise, but we must carry our own cross to follow him.’ Luther recognized that faith in Christ is not just a matter of intellectual assent but requires a willingness to follow him even when it’s difficult or painful.

An important figure in Christian history, Saint John of the Cross, wrote about the ‘dark night of the soul’, a period of spiritual struggle and suffering that many Christians experience on their journey of faith. John of the Cross believed that this suffering is necessary to purify the soul and draw us closer to God. He wrote: ‘The darkest night is often the bridge to the brightest tomorrow.’

As the writer of Hebrews says: ‘Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Hebrews 12:1-2, KJV)