Menu

header photo

Count the Cost (Luke 14:25-33)

    There’s a song out right now with words that have a lot to do with what we’re looking at this morning. It’s called “More Than Anything” by Natalie Grant. I’ve put the words to the chorus up on a slide, and it says this: “Help me want the Healer more than the healing. Help me want the Savior more than the saving. Help me want the Giver more than the giving. Oh help me want You, Jesus, more than anything.”
    This week we’re going to continue to talk about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. We’re going to learn more about what He meant when He told us, “Follow me.”
    We’re going to be looking at Luke’s gospel today, Luke 14:25-33, and as we’re turning there I want to read something that Thomas a Kempis wrote. He wrote a book called “The Imitation of Christ” which is a book about being a disciple of Christ. This is what he wrote:
     "Jesus has many who love His Kingdom in Heaven, but few who bear His Cross. He has many who desire comfort, but few who desire suffering. He finds many to share His feast, but few His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few are willing to suffer for His sake. Many follow Jesus to the Breaking of Bread, but few to the drinking of the Cup of His Passion. Many admire His miracles, but few follow Him in the humiliation of His Cross. Many love Jesus as long as no hardship touches them. Many praise and bless Him, as long as they are receiving comfort from Him. But if Jesus withdraws Himself, they fall to complaining and utter dejection."
    I hope you can see the connection between the Natalie Grant song and what Thomas a Kempis wrote. The point that they are both trying to make, is that there is a danger when we come to Jesus of coming to Him and staying with Him only for the good stuff. We come and we want comfort and miracles and blessings and Heaven, but we don’t want to have anything to do with the other stuff that Jesus says is a part of following Him.
    So, with that, let’s look at Luke 14:25-33, “Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
    There’s a lot of challenging things that Jesus asks His followers to do throughout the gospels, but this is one of the hardest. I want to look more closely at the first sentence of Jesus’s speech here.
    “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
    Does that seem odd to anyone else? What on earth does Jesus mean, that whoever does not hate his own family can’t be His disciple? Isn’t this the same Jesus who is all about love? Isn’t this the same Jesus who told His followers that if they love others then people will know they are His disciples? Isn’t this the same Jesus who said to love your neighbor as yourself?
    How then could He be saying here that if you don’t hate your own family you can’t be His disciple? I don’t hate my family, quite the opposite, I love them very much, more than I love any other people. Does that mean I can’t be a disciple of Jesus, really?
    No. So breathe a sigh of relief.
    Sometimes our English translations fall short of what was meant, particularly when it comes to emotions. The Greek language that Luke wrote his gospel in had many words to describe emotions that we have only one word for, words like: love, hate, joy, sorrow.
    Knowing this makes a difference for passages like this because we need to understand that when we read “hate” in the English, it doesn’t mean hate like we think.
    In the Greek, what is being said is that if we don’t love Christ Jesus more than we love our family, then we can’t be His disciple. It’s not that we hate our families, that’s no good! That’s really wrong, really bad. It’s that we must love Christ more than our families.
    I’m a big Star Wars fan. I come by it honestly because our whole family likes Star Wars. Now, the evil villain in Star Wars is Darth Sidious, right? He’s aways saying that hate is the path to the Dark Side.
    Well, in this case, since what Jesus said is that you must love Him more than your family, it’s that love that leads to the Light. If we understand what is really being said here, we could jokingly say that “hate” leads to the light side. Get it? That was a bad joke, but the point is that Jesus isn’t commanding that we truly hate our families.
    We should love them, and deeply, but we must know, and this is the challenging part: we must know that as deep as our love is for our families, our love for Christ must be deeper.
    Let’s see what else Luke has to say to us. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
    Are we loving this yet? This isn’t easy to hear, is it? We have to love Jesus more than anyone else, more than our own family, more than our own flesh and blood, and then, on top of that, we have to carry our own cross?
    Some translations say, “bear his own cross”. But whether we say that we have to carry our own cross our bear our own cross, it’s not something that many of us get excited about. Like the song by Natalie Grant and the words that Thomas a Kempis wrote, we tend to what all the comforts and blessings of following Christ without any of the challenges, trials, and suffering.
    But that’s not what Christ calls us to. Being a true Disciple of Jesus Christ, really following Him, hinges on more than a comfortable life. It requires that we love Him more deeply than anyone or anything and we carry our own cross.
    What does it mean to carry our own cross, though? Some of it goes back to what we talked about a few weeks ago, when I gave a message from Psalm 8 when King David called God, Lord, and what he meant was that he had made the decision that he was going to completely surrender to God. David was saying that he had chosen to make God number one in his life, his first priority. David was saying, when he called God “Lord”, Adonai, that he had chosen to serve God and follow Him no matter what.
    If you’re following along in your bulletins, and I hope you are, you’ll see two questions under number 2. The first is, “Do you really believe Jesus is your master?” David did. And that’s what’s required to really be a disciple of Christ. You have to really believe that He is your master. Not that He takes that place and gloats about His power over us, but rather that we remember all He has done for us and we ask Him to be the master of our lives because we know that He is good and wants what is best for us.
    The second question there is, “Do you believe that He is your owner—that you actually belong to Him?” I want to read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 for you, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
    If we have come to place our faith in Christ, if we have believed in Him for our salvation, His Holy Spirit lives in us. Our bodies are His temple. We were bought with a price and that was the shed blood of Christ Jesus. We are not our own. We are His…so we should act like it!
    Bear your own cross: allow Him to be your Lord, your master, your owner…not by force, but by choice. Live for Him…because He died for you!
    Bear your own cross. The cross is a symbol to us, a symbol of sacrifice. We’re meant to look at the cross and remember that Jesus sacrificed Himself for us on that cross. We’re also meant to look at the cross and remember this passage, that we are meant to carry our own crosses. We are meant to know that the cross is a symbol of the sacrifice of self. And that is the blank in your bulletin this morning.
    When Jesus told us that we must carry our own cross to be His disciple, He was telling us that we’re going to have to sacrifice what we want, what we love, who we were…all of it for the sake of gaining the Kingdom of God and for the sake of truly following Him. That’s the cost of following Him, and anyone who tells you differently is lying to you.
    The Christian life isn’t easy. You’re going to have to make decisions that honor God but that other people will not like. People in the world, and even people in the church will find radical living for God sometimes off-putting. You’re going to have to make decisions to leave behind jobs, homes, and other life circumstances that God calls you away from. You’re going to have to make the decision to let go of some relationships for the sake of following Him. You’re going to have to let go of a lifestyle of sin that you might actually enjoy because God calls you to live holy as He is holy. There will be trials, there will be temptation, there will be struggles. The world will hate you. Jesus told us as much.
    It’s a life that many, even Christians, aren’t ready to embrace. But this is what is required. Jesus issued us a hard challenge here, to be His disciple, to make Him Lord, master, owner, and to carry our cross, and He reminded us of the importance of doing this when He asked, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).
    Jesus ends this teaching, this challenge, by giving two short parables meant to help demonstrate His point. The first is about building a tower and making sure that you have accurately counted up all the materials and resources you’ll need to build the tower before you start so you don’t run out of resources. The second is about fighting a battle, and counting up your armies to make sure you have what it takes to win the battle and be victorious before you go into battle.
    Both make the point that when you follow Jesus, it’s not an easy thing. It’s difficult. It’s radical to be a true disciple of Christ, and He wants us to count the cost. He wants us to know what will be expected, what will be asked, so we can run the race and finish well.
    Count the cost.
    As we wrap up this morning, I want to turn your attention one more time to the sermon notes in the bulletin. I want you to see on the opposite side of the bulletin, behind the notes for the sermon this morning is a new section in our bulletin that says, “questions to answer this week”. There are three questions there I want to challenge you to look at and answer this week:


    1. Evaluate your approach to following Jesus. Would you say that you view Jesus as your Lord, Master, and Owner? Why or why not?
    2. If you choose to obey Jesus’s call to follow, what might it cost you? (Avoid being vague. If following Jesus would cost you specific possessions, comforts, or relationships, list them below.)
    3. What might hold you back from following Jesus at this point? Are you willing to let go of these things if necessary?

 

Go Back

Comment

Blog Search

Comments

There are currently no blog comments.