Consider the Cost

Based on: Luke 14:25-35

So, you want to follow Jesus? You want to be his disciple? Good! Do you know what that means? After all, if you are going to do something as life changing is following Jesus, becoming his disciple, it would be good to know what is involved. Sort of like buying a used car. You want to know everything you can about the car both good and bad, before you spend money on that car. The same with following Jesus. In fact, he wants you to know the big picture, both good and bad, before you make such a large commitment. What do you think? Shouldn’t you consider the cost of following Jesus?

For a time Jesus was a very popular guy. As he walked around performing miracles and teaching the people, large crowds followed him. Maybe some in the crowd thought it was fun to see the miracles. It was entertainment. Perhaps some remember him feeding the 5000 and thought Jesus would provide an easy life with free food and they would have to work as hard. Yet, there were some who understood. They were following Jesus because he had the words of eternal life. Why do you follow Jesus?

For a time Jesus was a very popular guy. As he walked around performing miracles and teaching the people, large crowds followed him. Maybe some in the crowd thought it was fun to see the miracles. It was entertainment. Perhaps some remember him feeding the 5000 and thought Jesus would provide an easy life with free food and they would have to work as hard. Yet, there were some who understood. They were following Jesus because he had the words of eternal life. Why do you follow Jesus?

Jesus saw those large crowds following him. He turned and told them what it really means to follow Jesus. He doesn’t hide the undesirable parts in order to get the sale. He is not like Satan who tries to convince you how wonderful a sin would be, yet neglects to tell you about hell – the consequences of sin. No, Jesus is being honest, up front, hiding nothing.

What is the cost? In a word, “everything”. Following Jesus requires a total commitment to him. You cannot partly follow Jesus and partly follow your own ideas or the world. It is all or nothing.

Jesus groups the things that we must give up into three categories: relationships, the easy life, and earthly possessions. The first is the most difficult. He tells us to hate father, mother, brothers, sisters, even self. That doesn’t sound like Jesus does it? Doesn’t Jesus want us to love others? Yes, but think about what Jesus is doing. He is emphasizing the vast difference there should be between your love for him and your love for others. He is telling you that your love for him is exclusive. It is a one-of-a-kind love that is reserved for him and him alone.

So, when someone tries to get in the way of your relationship with your savior, it becomes obvious that your love for Jesus is more important. If a loved one tries to tell you “Oh, let’s skip church today”, you recognize that this person who is close to you is, at that point, leading you away from Christ instead of toward Christ.

The second thing you must give up to be a disciple is a life free from the burden of the cross. In other words you must give up a life where you are at peace with the world. Jesus says, ” anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” If you were looking for a life free from pain, Jesus says it’s not going to happen. There will be problems. There will be suffering. You cannot be a disciple of Jesus and see how he suffered and expect to not to share in that suffering.

Third, Jesus says you must give up everything you claim as your own. He says, “anyone who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Money, wealth, personal possessions, all those things that are really only on loan from God anyway, Jesus says give them up. Don’t let them get in the way of your love for Christ. Instead, shouldn’t we be using our money in God pleasing ways that eventually help draw us and others to Christ?

When you consider the cost of being a disciple, recognize that this is not a sprint, but a marathon. Being a disciple of Jesus requires a lifetime of giving up stuff. With two short parables, one about a man building a tower and the other about a king going to war, Jesus tells us to consider the whole cost. Will you be able to finish your life in this world as a disciple of Christ? Will you be able to continue giving up the things of this world until you die?

That is one reason why our giving up of this world must be complete and total. If we are still holding onto a little piece, what will happen when times get difficult? We will want to give up on Christ and go back to the world. Would it be better not to even start? If you are going to suffer in hell for all eternity, why not enjoy your peace with this world while you can?

Really, what is Jesus telling us here? Giving up stuff is not a way to pay for our sin or earn heaven for ourselves. Jesus is telling us to give up these things because these are the things that very often get in the way of our relationship with him and in the end of destroy us. The relationships, the life at peace with the world, the material possessions—do not put your trust in them. Give them up. Let them go. Jesus tells you this so you will enjoy eternal life with him.

If you were in an airplane, with the engines on fire and a parachute on your back, and you knew the airplane was going to crash, what would you do? Does it make any sense to jump out of the airplane and still try to hold onto part of the airplane? The airplane is going to crash and if you hold on to any part of it you will go with it. The only way you will live is to let go of the airplane and trust the parachute. Consider that this whole world is going down. It will crash and burn. If you try to hold on to part of this world, you will crash and burn with it. Let go of those things and put all of your trust in Jesus.

God never allows suffering in the lives of his disciples without a purpose. Whatever we suffer, whatever we give up, whatever we hate in this world, God uses it to draw us even closer to our savior. He does this because he wants us to enjoy the blessings for which he gave up so much to give us. No matter what Jesus asks us to give up, he has given up more. He gave up heaven to come to earth. He gave up his life to pay for ours.

At first glance we look at what Jesus says to us and we think, “How horrible. You expect too much!” But is Jesus trying to be mean? No, he is trying to help us. He wants you to keep the eternal life that he began in you at your baptism. In the waters of baptism he washed away all your sin. You are perfect and holy in the sight of God. One day you will enter the mansions of heaven. Never again will you have to give up things, but you will enjoy a all of god’s blessings to the full. And you will have such a future in front of you that all gave up in the past will be insignificant in comparison.

There is a cost to being a disciple of Jesus. That cost is giving up the things of this world. From the viewpoint of the world that cost is tremendous. It is everything. But really, it is not a cost at all, but a blessing. Jesus is simply telling us to get rid of those things that would get in the way of following him, that would prevent us from being his disciple. He wants all our attention, all our focus, all our energy to be directed toward our relationship with him, because through him we have blessings far greater than anything we give up in this world.

Amen.

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