Jesus doesn’t make things any easier as we move into Matthew 19. He raises the bar on relationships when it seems someone is trying to trap him in an answer about divorce. He challenges people on priorities and whether one who is rich can truly follow Jesus. And sandwiched in between are just a few verses chastising his disciples for rejecting those who were bringing children to Jesus. It is so tempting to try to make this path of discipleship easier but that’s just not the way it is. Too many do try to make the Christian life sound like it is an easier way to live. Is it a better way to live? Yes. Is it easier? No. Jesus just keeps raising the standard – he does it throughout the Gospels and it is here as well. This goes back to the sermon on the mount – you have heard it was said, but I say…Jesus offers this up time and time again. And it is here as well. After all, it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who famously wrote that when Christ calls a [person], he bids them come and die. Not exactly what sells people on the Gospel and puts people in the pews.
But it is a better path. It is a path that turns us outward toward others. It moves us to compassion and grace. It brings hope for during times of trial. It promises a future not only in this life but the life to come. But it is not simple and it is not easy. But it is the better way.