Lent   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
0 ratings
· 1 view
I beg your pardon if you have heard this story before, there is an old ancient Indian parable it tells the story of a group of blind men meeting, an elephant.
There were once six blind men who begged by the side of a road every day.
One day they heard, the sound of shouting and people coming along the road and called out to find out what was happening.
A woman told them that an elephant coming to work in the nearby forest.
They had heard about elephants, but they had never seen one. well they couldn't.
They asked the woman to tell them when the elephant was, getting close to them.
When she told them it was near, they called to the owner.
They asked if he he would stop so that they could see the great animal. They couldn't see it with their eyes, but they thought that by touching it with their hands they could learn what it looked like.
The first one happened to put his hand on the elephant's side. "Well!" he said, "now I know all about elephants.
They must look just like a wall."
The second felt one of the long tusks. "My brother," he said, "you are wrong. It is not at all like a wall. It is round and smooth and has a sharp point at one end. It looks more like a spear than anything I can think of."
The third happened to take hold of the elephant's long nose.
"You are both wrong," he said. "Anybody who knows anything can see that an elephant must look like a fat snake."
The fourth reached out his arms and put them around one of the elephant's legs. "Oh, how blind you are!" he said. "It is very clear to me that it is round and tall like a tree."
The fifth man was very tall, and he happened to take hold of one of the elephant's big ears. "Even without eyes you should be able to see that this animal is not like any of the things that you name," he said. "It looks like a very big fan."
The sixth man was very old and slow, and it was some time before he could find the elephant at all. At last, he took hold of the animal's tail. "Oh, foolish men!" he cried. "You can't be thinking right. This elephant is not like a wall, or a spear, or a snake, or a tree; and it does not look like a fan at all. Any man who sees it must know that it looks just like a rope."
Then the elephant moved on. The six blind men sat by the side of the road all day and talked to each other about what they thought it looked like. They could not agree and called each other bad names for thinking something different.
Each believed that he knew the answer, but they were all wrong because they only knew part of the truth.
People who have eyes sometimes act just as foolishly.
In the story each one of them is touches a different part of the elephant and decides what it looks like from what they are experiencing. We come at things from our own personal perspective to.
How God sees things is far beyond all our thoughts, and ideas, his perspective goes far beyond what we can even understand.
What might be God’s perspective be on Abram’s, or that of Peter, or the situation in which we are currently living?
How often do we see without seeing?
In this week’s reading Sarai, Abram’s wife, was 90 years old.
A huge disappointment in her life was that she had not had children.
She had been through life with Abram. When he was 70 and she 61 they had been called by God to leave their homeland in Haran and travel to a ‘promised land.
God had told Abram he would make of them a great nation. But, nearly 30 years later, Sarai was still childless.
It didn’t look promising.
And yet in today’s reading the promise is made again. God’s ideas of timing and human ideas of timing often don’t tie up.
Did it take all that time for Abram to trust God after several disasters in his life and, in the end, he has just learnt to trust, no matter what.
And what about Peter? Just before this passage he has had a wonderful spiritual breakthrough.
He is the first person to publicly declare that he recognises that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
If we put ourselves in Peter’s shoes, he must have been euphoric.
Imagine the spiritual high.
But then almost immediately, he fails.
Jesus begins to talk about the suffering and death of the Messiah. Peter’s reaction is ‘what on earth is he talking about’. He must stop talking this way, or he will put people off.
He even tries to stop Jesus, Jesus rebuked him in no uncertain terms. ‘Get behind me, Satan’.
Jesus goes and challenges Peter if he really wants to be a disciple of Christ, He needs to let go of thinking as a man, he has to allow God’s will to be in control.
This text of today is given the heading “the cost of discipleship”.
Like most of us, Peter will turn out to be a very slow learner. He will go on to make some horrific mistakes, at one point even denying he knew Jesus.
And yet despite, and maybe even because of, his failures Jesus sees that he has the gifts to be able to lead the early church.
There are several questions that we need to answer from out text today.
What is the relationship between salvation to discipleship?
Are all believers disciples?
What if someone professes faith in Christ, but fails to follow Him?
This text is tough. Whatever way we go with the questions, there is no room to shrug off the importance of discipleship.
1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
Let’s remember that this teaching comes right on the heels of Jesus correcting Peter.
Jesus takes the opportunity, then, to call the crowd to teach about discipleship. It’s as though Jesus said, “if you keep setting your mind on the things of man, this is the result”. Peter was expecting a political Messiah who would free Israel from Roman rule.
Discipleship Demands Self-Denial
How does Jesus set this up? “If anyone would come after me,”
If anyone. This tells us that Jesus is not limiting this to the twelve disciples.
If this is what someone wants to do, then there are three demands upon that person.
Let him deny himself,
Let him take up his cross,
Let him follow me.
​For those who want to follow Christ, these are the things you have to do. They are not optional.
They are not things that you can take or leave.
You don’t get to have discipleship without these elements.
The first command: he must deny himself.
Peter tries to rebuke Jesus, Jesus says, no. You need to deny yourself. You can’t look for terms and conditions You need to fully submit to God.
Self-denial is a necessity for discipleship because the very process of following someone else presumes that you are stop following yourself. ​
Years ago, many people took an apprenticeship it’s very similar to the idea of discipleship. There is training, and when an apprentice is trained, he will be like his teacher.
Sometimes the apprentice may have their own ideas of how they think things should to be done.
But the one that took notice, that listened, was the one who eventually learned that it was best to do what the teacher taught them.
Maybe they didn’t get it at first, perhaps they thought they knew a better way.
But if they did what they were instructed, they eventually come to understand why they needed to do it that way.
Often, it wasn’t because the teacher was opposed to new ideas.
It was because there was a right way to do the job, and many, many wrong ways. If an apprentice couldn’t put aside his own ideas and follow instructions, They tended not to last.
If you would come after Christ, you firstly must be willing to submit your will to his.
He must take up his cross.
Sometimes people speak of hardships in life as “our cross to bear” and they draw that from this text.
I’ve got an aching shoulder, but that’s just my cross to bear.
However, that isn’t the idea in this text. Jesus was not saying that disciples just to put up with the troubles that we all face in life.
This was a call to be willing to die to self, and to even die physically if it came to it.
We often wear crosses as decoration today either for religious reasons or even a fashion statement, but in reality the cross was a symbol of death and humiliation.
The Romans would take a prisoner and force them to carry the cross the instrument of their own death up the hill to where they would be executed.
How much are you willing to give for the sake of the Gospel of Christ?
The third demand is:
Follow me.
This third command represents an on-going idea. You must continually follow me.
If you want to come after Jesus, you must actually follow Him.
We don’t get call ourselves disciples if we aren’t doing the things that Christ is instructing.
This has to be the ongoing in the life of the disciple.
These are the demands that Jesus makes.
This is a big price to pay. And we have to ask is it worth it?
Well, Jesus is going to tell why.
Discipleship Is Wise
“Because whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
If you try to save your life, if you want to avoid all that hardship of discipleship If you believe like many today that you’ve got this, you can do it just fine all by yourself thank you very much.
The truth is you will lose it.
There is a clear play on words here. You can try to save your life in your own way, but you will lose it spiritually in the end.
Many times, throughout the Bible there is a repeated theme, from Adam and Eve making the wrong choice, to the parable of the man who hoards his good and then dies before he can enjoy his success.
You lose your life in trying to save it, but you save your life through a surrender of it to Christ.
So often we want to cling to the things of this world, and we want to hang on to our own ideas of living life and our own way.
We don’t want to think about what God wants from us or what He wants to build within us, but Jesus wants us to see that it is only through surrender that we can truly live!
Jesus then asks two questions to further drive home the point in verse 36-37
Discipleship is Worth it.
What does it profit someone to gain the whole world, but lose their soul?
What if you were the richest person in the world? You could have every luxury that money could buy.
Any car, travel anywhere in the world. Only one thing: it will cost you your soul.
If we put our trust in wealth or position in life.
There is no profit in gaining the world but losing your soul.
What about his second question in verse 37.
What can a man gain in return for his soul?
There is an evangelists named Ray Comfort in America gets people to think about eternity and think about the value of their souls. He asks them, would you sell your eye for a million dollars. Most people say no, but on the off chance someone says yes, he doubles down “what about both your eyes for two million?” and no one is ever willing to give up their eyes or any amount of money.
What price do you put on your soul.
Denial of Discipleship is a Denial of Christ
“Whoever is ashamed of me.” The idea of being ashamed of Christ is connected to the costs of discipleship.
Jesus says that this generation is adulterous and sinful. That phrase for “this generation” is used to speak of the time then and this current age.
We live in a sinful generation. There is unrighteousness all around us.
In this age surrounded by all these things, there certainly is pressure for us to conform to the world. For us to fit in. For us to be just like everyone else.
Jesus says” if you are ashamed of me before this generation of people who live like this, and succumb to the pressures of this world, then I will be ashamed of you when I come in glory.​”
Discipleship Will Bring Clear Sight
Jesus has been teaching his disciples about true sight.
In our reading Peter wasn’t seeing clearly. He was interested in his own agenda. So, Jesus challenges him.
The cost of discipleship is high, but that cost is well worth it.
Just like the blind men in our story about meeting the elephant who didn’t see at all, we need to open our perspective on life.
Jesus gives a promise that though we don’t see it right now.
We to will eventually see clearly. As we follow Christ, he gradually helps us to see things from God’s perspective, and one day everything will be in sharp focus.
This is what discipleship produces.
The takeaway for us is perhaps to re-evaluate what we hold dear, we need to let go and see that in the wondrous grace of God offered to us, So take the step to learn to trust God even when we don’t understand.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more