Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

 Sermon Text: Luke 14:25-35

 Other Readings: Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Philemon 1,7-21


  1. How might Hebrews 6:4-6 help us understand the point of Luke 14:35?
  2. Whenever Jesus talks about a Christian’s “cross,” a few elements keep coming up. List at least two elements that are essential characteristics of a Christian cross. (Mark 8:34-38 can be helpful.)
  3. To keep the words “gender neutral,” the NIV translates verse 27, “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” The Greek can also read, “Whoever does not carry one’s own cross…” What is Jesus teaching you about the kinds of crosses that will come into your life?
  4. Back to verse 27, many translations translate the Greek verb as “bear” a cross as opposed to “carry” one. Which translation option do you prefer? Why?
  5. In our Second Reading from Philemon, what is the “cross” that Philemon is about to bear? How does Saint Paul motivate Philemon to bear that cross?

  1. Jesus’ point in Luke 14:35 seems to include this thought: That if people profess to be Christians and then give up their faith because they failed to understand the spiritual calculations, then the “odds” are not good for them becoming true Christians again. They are more likely to remain in their unbelief and be useless in respect to the kingdom of God.
  2. A Christian’s cross is something that (1) causes some kind of suffering, (2) results from a Christian’s faith in God and his word, and (3) involves being rejected by others, including those closest to us. For example, getting cancer shouldn’t be considered a cross in and of itself. The way the devil uses the situation to tempt a Christian can certainly be labeled a cross, though.
  3. Jesus is stressing that your cross(es) are indeed yours. It does us no good to compare our crosses to another’s cross. Jesus wants us to focus on our burdens so that we can see how he personally helps each of us in them.
  4. Either option is acceptable because they both have the same idea. But perhaps “bear” better emphasizes the struggle of a Christian’s cross and that it requires an exercising and application of spiritual “willpower.”
  5. Philemon would have to decide how he was going to deal with his runaway slave, Onesimus, who was being returned to him. Onesimus left as an unbeliever but was being returned as a converted brother in Christ. Philemon would have to struggle with how best to balance his roles as a Christian master and a Christian brother in the faith. Saint Paul motivates Philemon not by force but by the gospel, reminding him of the power that is “in Christ” (Philemon 20). Christ’s love is the motivation we have (and need) to bear our own crosses.