Exo. 19:1-6; Rom. 5:6-11; Mt. 9:36-10:8
Dear brothers and sisters today we reflect on the powerful passage from the Gospel of Matthew that reminds us of our call to discipleship.
Jesus' compassion for the people was evident as He saw their spiritual condition. "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."( 9:36)
In Ezekiel 34:11-12 the prophet speaks of God's compassionate nature, stating, "For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep" (Ezekiel 34:11-12). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, fulfilled this prophecy by tending to the needs of His people.
The Lost Sheep Jesus often used parables to convey profound spiritual truths. In the parable of the lost sheep(Luke 15:3-7) He emphasized the value of each individual soul to the Good Shepherd. Just as the shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep to search for the one that was lost, Jesus leaves no one behind. He tirelessly seeks the lost, comforts the broken hearted, and leads them to the eternal fold.
The Gospel says that Jesus summoned His disciples and commissioned them to join His ministry. As Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, He instructed them to proclaim the kingdom of heaven, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy, and drive out demons (Matthew 10:7-8). This comprehensive mission encompassed both preaching and demonstrating the power of God's kingdom.
The Costly Choice Discipleship begins with a choice—a choice to surrender our will, ambitions, and desires to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. In Luke 9:23, Jesus tells His disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." This call to self-denial and taking up our cross underscores the radical commitment required to be a follower of Christ.
One striking example of the cost of discipleship is the encounter between Jesus and the rich young ruler. This young man had wealth, influence, and a seemingly pious life. However, when he asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus challenged him to sell everything, give to the poor, and follow Him. Sadly, the young man couldn't let go of his possessions and walked away sorrowful. This story illustrates how our attachment to worldly possessions can hinder us from fully embracing the cost of discipleship.
When we choose to follow Jesus, we must be prepared to face trials, hardships, and even persecution. In John 15:20, Jesus warned His disciples, "Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." The path of discipleship may involve rejection, ridicule, and even hostility from the world.
The early apostles experienced first hand the cost of discipleship. After being arrested and warned by the religious authorities not to speak in the name of Jesus, they refused to compromise their faith. They were flogged and released, yet they rejoiced because they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake. Their example reminds us that discipleship often comes with a price, but the rewards of remaining faithful far outweigh the hardships.
Central to the cost of discipleship is the call to love sacrificially. In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another."
The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us about sacrificial love. In this story, a man is robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. The religious leaders pass by, but it is the despised Samaritan who stops, shows compassion, and provides care for the wounded man. This parable challenges us to extend our love and compassion beyond our comfort zones, to reach out to those in need, and to put their well-being above our own.
The call to discipleship requires a willingness to surrender our desires, endure trials and persecution, and love sacrificially. Let us respond to the call of Jesus and be his instruments in this world.