Study Guide: A Call to Stand Out

Sunday October 14, 2007 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In this first sermon of the Revolting Beauty series, we learn two aspects of how we are to stand out and revolt against our culture. First, no matter how “together” our lives are, God wants us to be part of what he is doing in the world. Second, allegiance to the Kingdom of God means that we may have to give up things that are good and normal in our culture. We need to consider even our most firmly rooted values: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Extended Summary:

In this passage, Jesus resolutely sets out for Jerusalem. The literal Greek here says, “He set His face toward Jerusalem.” This implies purposeful intention on the part of Jesus, to take a journey toward something that people that surrounded Jesus would not have understood. In fact, the disciples don’t understand what Jesus is doing. They are also on a journey where they are learning about what it means to follow Jesus. The truth is that all of us are on a journey; none of us will get it right. We learn, like the disciples, on the journey. The process of walking to Jerusalem is what teaches us.

In the second part of this passage, Jesus encounters three individuals who are looking to follow Him to Jerusalem. Jesus’ responses to these three men highlight just how radical it is to follow Jesus. You cannot even begin the journey with split allegiances. Following Jesus must trump all other commitments.

These three men were not ready to join the journey at this point. They may have become followers later in time, but at this point, they were putting cultural norms of the time ahead of the radical call to follow Jesus.

In fact, all of the things that the men used as excuses were good cultural patterns of first century Judaism. The same thing happens to us today. We must ask, “What are the fundamental assumptions about life in modern American culture that might stand in the way of following Jesus?” Foundational to American life are the assumptions we make around the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even though these rights form an excellent foundation to the US government, we must ask questions about how these cultural norms stack up against the Kingdom of God.

Jesus was challenging the norms of the first century, which would have been emotionally troublesome. In the same way, Jesus challenges the norms of modern culture so we are clear about what it means to follow Jesus all the way to Jerusalem.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What did it mean to follow Jesus to Jerusalem in the first century?
  2. How does following Jesus to Jerusalem translate into today?
  3. What excuses did Jesus confront in this passage?
  4. If Jesus were physically present today, what excuses would He confront in our culture?
  5. Why are words that confront our culture so hard to accept as being truth?