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Sunday, August 29, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "The Cost of Following Jesus"

“The Cost of Following Jesus”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
Back to School Sunday
August 29, 2010
Luke 14:25-35


We’ve now been in the Gospel of Luke for a whole year.  It was Labor Day weekend 2009 when we began in Luke chapter 1.  And next week is Labor Day weekend again.  And we have reached the end of Luke chapter 14.

For one year now, we’ve been focusing with Luke on the person of Jesus Christ.  We call our series, “Certain of Jesus” because Luke wrote his gospel “that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” about Jesus.   Luke wrote his gospel to help us to know Jesus for certain.

Do you feel like you’ve been getting to know Jesus better?

That’s my prayer.

My prayer is that every single one of us would be growing as faith-followers of Jesus Christ.  Growing more certain of who He is, what He wants from us, and what He gives to us.  Certain of Jesus.

At the end of chapter 14, this Jesus whom we’ve been learning about calls for a decision. 

Well...it might be better to say that Jesus calls people to consider what it would cost to make this decision.

Jesus is being followed around by great crowds. 

He was a “rock star” of the ancient near eastern world. 

And many people were beginning to consider themselves as followers (or disciples, same thing) of Jesus.

They were seeing the things that Jesus was doing, the miracles.

They were hearing Him teach.

They were very interested in Jesus.

Now, if I were Jesus, I’d love that, and I’d eat it up.  And I’d try to figure out how to keep those crowds coming–making sure that they were happy, so that I stayed popular.

But Jesus isn’t interested in popularity.

And He’s not impressed by big crowds.

Jesus is looking for something much more important - true allegiance.

So, at this point, Jesus begins to warn the crowd about what it’s like to follow Him by faith.

He calls it, “the cost” of following Him.  “The cost.”

He tells them that there will be a cost involved in following Jesus by faith, and if they were serious about becoming His disciples, they would need to count that cost first, in advance.

“The Cost of Following Jesus”

Ok.  So, what does it cost to follow Jesus by faith?

#1.  ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.

Did you hear that there in verse 33?  “Any of you who does not give up EVERYTHING he has cannot be my disciple.”

Absolutely Everything.

That’s the cost of following Jesus.

Jesus starts with something near and dear to all of us.  Family.  V.25

“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.’”

Those are very strong words.

Now, they aren’t as strong as they might sound to us.

Jesus doesn’t want us to hate our family absolutely.

Jesus wants us to love our families.  He tells husbands to love their wives and wives to love their husbands. And parents to love their children. And children to honor their parents.

He loved His own mother.  He loved His half-brothers.

This is not talking about absolute hate.  It’s talking about relative hate.

[And I don’t mean hating your relatives!]

I mean that in relative comparison to how you love Jesus, it will seem like hate how you love your family.

If you love Jesus with first priority then it will seem like hate how you love your own flesh and blood.

Now, loving Jesus like that will only help you to love your family the way you should!

But the opposite is a real danger.

There is real danger in loving your family so much that Jesus takes a distant second place.  And He will not be second.

So, in comparison to Jesus, we are called to hate our families.

That’s a big cost.

Heather Joy.  I love you.  And in comparison to loving Jesus, I hate you.

Robin, Andrew, Peter, and Isaac.  I love you.  But in comparison to loving Jesus, I hate you.

And I want you to hate me, too.

Because I want you to love Jesus more than anything.  And I want you to be His disciples.

In this context, if you became Jesus’ follower, your family might disown you.  They may not be happy that you’ve chosen this path.  And the family at that point in time was very powerful.  Like it is in other parts of the world right now.

In some places in our world right now, if you become a faith follower of Jesus, then your family will hold a funeral for you.  And in some places, they will try to get you dead for that funeral.

And Jesus wants us to love everyone.  Even our enemies.  But in comparison to how we love Him, it should look like hate for our families.

That’s a real cost.

If you are considering following Jesus, you need to know that up front.

Jesus doesn’t put this stuff in the fine print at the end of the contract.  This is front and center.  Jesus wants your surrender and your full allegiance.

Of course, it’s deeper than family.  Jesus wants us to hate ourselves.  Our very pown lives!  Did you see that in verse 26?

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate...[his family]...–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Crosses are for dying.

They don’t serve any other purpose.

Jesus is talking about a death to self.
A death to our own comforts.
A death to our own agenda.
A willingness to suffer for Jesus.
A willingness to follow Jesus into suffering, persecution, even death.

It’s not just family that it will cost.  It will cost us life.

Now, again, this is not a maudlin self-loathing.

“Oh, I just hate myself!”

But compared with how I love Jesus, it would look like hate for myself.

In reality, this is the way to gain your life.

But it’s choosing Jesus above yourself.

And Jesus calls us all to make that choice with our eyes wide open.

You don’t back into follower-ship.  You don’t back into discipleship.

You don’t one day find yourself saying, “Hey!  I guess I’m a follower of Jesus now!”

You have to understand what it will cost.

It will cost absolutely everything.

That’s why Jesus calls for an analyzing of the cost.  Verse 28.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'”

We’ve all seen construction projects like that, haven’t we?

The ground is cleared.
The hole is dug.
The foundation is laid.

And then it just sits there and sits there and sits there.

Because the total cost wasn’t considered.

Jesus wants His followers to know the costs of front.

It will cost you absolutely everything.

Are you willing to give that up?

We call that “giving it all up” – “repentance.”

And it begins at the start of the Christian life, and it’s something that Jesus is constantly calling us to do.

Martin Luther said that the Christian life is a “race of repentance.”

It begins with repentance and it continues with repentance until we reach glory.

Jesus tells a second story to illustrate this counting of the cost of following Him.  V.31

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

That’s quite a picture, isn’t it?

A king with 10,000 men.  Of course, he’ll go to war, right?!

10,000 men!

But what if the other king has 20,000 men?

Well, I’ll have to think about that.

Counting the cost.

And the cost is absolutely everything.

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

Have you counted that cost?

If you are considering becoming a faith follower of Jesus, you have to understand that Jesus demands everything.

Jesus changes everything.

When He enters your life, your life will never be the same again.

And you have to know that.

If you come to follow Christ, you can’t assume that it’s going to be “business as usual” from here on out.

Instead, you can assume that everything is going change.

Has everything changed for you?

If it hasn’t then maybe you are Jesus’ disciple.

Everyone falters at discipleship.  No one follows Jesus perfectly.

But all of Jesus’ genuine disciples have decided to leave everything behind to follow Him. 

Count the cost.

It’s absolutely everything.

But.

And this is all important.

Jesus isn’t warning them because following Jesus isn’t worth it.

He’s warning them so that they know what they are getting into.

But He knows that it’s all worth it.

He knows that He’s worth it all.

What is the cost of following Jesus?

#2.  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Absolutely nothing at all.

And I mean that in two ways.

First, Jesus paid it all.  We will pay nothing.

It’s important when studying Jesus’ call here to consider the radical cost of followership, to not get the idea that this “cost” is something that we will “pay” to earn God’s favor.

There is nothing that we can pay to earn God’s favor!

Jesus paid it all.

The cost of our salvation was paid in FULL by the Lord Jesus Christ at the Cross.

Salvation is a free gift.

We will do nothing to earn it.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Free to us.

At great cost to Him.

Jesus paid it all.

There is absolutely nothing that we will pay to earn eternal life, God’s favor, God’s blessing, and heaven.  Absolutely nothing.

But to receive that gift, you have to open heart for it.  You have to open your hand for it.

Can you receive something if you’re hands are already full?

If you have your hands full with the garbage bag, can you receive a tray full of delicious food?

No.  You have to let that garbage go, drop it, to open your hand to receive the gift.

Does dropping that garbage earn you the gift?  No.  But you have to do it to be able to receive.

That’s what repentance is.  It’s opening your hand and dropping whatever you have been clinging to: your family, your comforts, your possessions, your agenda, your sin, your very life.

To receive the free gift that is being offered you.

Jesus gave up absolutely everything so that you and I would have to pay absolutely nothing.

The second way in which the cost of following Jesus is absolutely nothing is that you have everything to lose if you don’t–because He is worth everything.

Jesus is worth everything.

That’s the implicit argument that Jesus is making.

He doesn’t want his followers to doubt that it’s worth it.

He’s telling them by asking them to count the cost to SEE that He is worth it.

To choose Him over everything else.

Because Jesus is worth it all.

Jesus is worth losing family.

In Matthew 19, Jesus says, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

It’s all worth it.

We got a prayer letter this week from Kim Cone, our missionary to Africa.

And one of the things he said in it was that a highlight of their recent time here in the States was a reunion, “in Wisconsin with 125 people who had spent a part of their lives in the Ubangi province of the Dem. Rep. of Congo.  What a “family”!” he says,   “Time and time again, shared memories of both light and heavy experiences, endless hymns ... and heartwarming bear hug after bear hug brought tears of joy to our eyes.  Indeed, to those who may lose family in following Him, God has promised to multiply family!”

It’s all worth it.

He is worth it.

Not just family, but life.

Jesus said in Luke, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

You don’t actually give up anything when you follow Jesus.  You gain everything!

But if you choose against Christ, then you lose everything.  Look at verse 34.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’”

I think that here Jesus is still talking about the choice of following Him or not.

If you choose to follow Him, then you are like salty salt.  Potent stuff.  Able to season and preserve.

But if you choose another path, it’s like salt that has lost it’s flavor.

It’s useless and worthless and tossed out.

You lose everything.

Jesus is worth everything.

If you lose Him, you’ve lost everything that’s worth having.

We need a church of salty Christians.

Not just people who say that they love Jesus.

But people who, by faith and faith alone, love Jesus and Jesus alone.

They love Jesus so much that everything else takes a very distant second place.

Willing to give up everything to lose nothing.

Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

As everyone heads back to school this week, let us be firmly convinced in our own minds that Jesus is worth it all and decide to follow Him.


Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom 

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