Jesus is the Son of Man
The Cost of Following Jesus
(Note: It has come to my attention that my sermon posts from Nov ’21 through the begining of Feb ’22 have been lost. So i will be reposting them here, meaning they wont necessarily be in the order they were preached and recorded. THank you for your understanding)
All right! Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 14. As I try to say every week, if you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.
So, we are continuing to look through Luke’s Gospel, following Jesus as he minsters to the people of Israel, teaching the religious leaders the right understanding of the law and what the love of and love for God really looks like. He has come to proclaim the forgiveness of sins and the coming of the kingdom of God.
Big picture, Jesus is slowly making his way to Jerusalem, since Luke 9. He is making his way there because that is where his earthly ministry is going to come to an end, as he will be tried and crucified, put to death for the forgiveness of our sins. He stops at numerous towns and villages along the way, preaching, teaching, healing, casting out demons and preforming many other types of miracles. That’s where we were the last few weeks, Jesus stopping in a town and having a Sabbath dinner at the home of one of the Pharisees.
He shared some parables about the kingdom of Heaven, and among the points that he made was one that he has been making over and over again in Luke’s Gospel. Not everyone who thinks they are saved actually is. Not everyone who assumes they will go to heaven actually will.
He was getting people to think, to investigate, to look, to believe, to trust in him and him alone. Many religions, especially ones that consider themselves Christian, will encourage you to trust and follow Jesus, but only true, biblical Christianity says to trust in Christ alone.
With all that in mind, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 14, verses 25-35. I will, of course be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 24:25-35, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luke writes:
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “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. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Thus says the Word of God.
So, Jesus is back on the move, and we see that great crowds are following him. Now, we have seen throughout the Gospels that the people who are following him fall into a few different categories.
There are, of course, the genuine disciples, including but not limited to the Twelve. There were also, non-genuine disciples, of which there were multiple categories. There were those who just wanted to see the miracles and hear the teachings. There were those who wanted to be a part of something, something they could tell their grandkids about. “I was there when…” And there were those who wanted to be fed, wanted to be healed, wanted to be the recipient of Jesus miracles.
Jesus wasn’t looking for followers in that sense, followers just to be popular, just to be an influencer. He wasn’t looking just for spectators. He was calling for recruits, for dedicated disciples.
And so, Jesus addresses the crowd. He tells them what they need to hear, to make sure they have accurate expectations. He is more interested in quality than quantity. Basically, the thought is, “Don’t waste my time. If you are not interested in paying the price, don’t spend time filling up your cart.”
But how do you know if you’re willing to pay the price I you do not know what the price is? So, Jesus tells them. First, to follow him, he says, you must hate your family. Now, this is commonly misunderstood when Jesus says this. What can he mean by hate?
First, a quick run through of some verses that record things that Jesus has said, and the scriptures tell us.
Matthew 7:9-13, Jesus tells us to honor, or love our parents. Ephesians 5:25, Paul tells husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church. Matthew 5:24, Jesus tells us to be reconciled to our brother. Luke 6:27, Love your enemies. Mark 12:32-34, Love your neighbors. John 13:34, Love one another.
So, from that small sample, we can know that when Jesus says that we are to hate our families, he is not meaning in the way that it is meant today, in English in our culture and society. But there’s good news! We can look at scriptures to get an idea of what Jesus means.
Back in Genesis, when Isaac married both Leah and Rachel (long story, different sermon) in one verse, it says that he loved Rachel more than he loved Leah. In the very next verse, it says that he hated Leah. So, we can see that the biblical meaning for hate is basically to love less.
And what we see too, from the Rachel and Leah example, that fits so perfectly with what Jesus is saying, is that if we don’t love him 100%, completely, totally, then its as if we don’t love him at all. If we love less than 100%, it is to hate.
And so, to put it all clearly, when Jesus says that to follow him, we must hate our families, he is saying that to follow him, we must love him more than we love our families. We should love our families, but we are to love Jesus more. If we are not committed 100% to him, then we are not committed at all.
This also has allusions to the parable we looked at last week. If Jesus is not the number 1 priority, then we are on the outside looking in.
I love what one commentator wrote about this, Ill go ahead and read it. He writes:
The paradox is that the proper way to love our children is to “hate” them because our greater love for God will enable us to love them with a greater love! Disciples are the best lovers of God and of family and friends. Disciples must always be ready to “hate”- to give second place to everything and everyone else. The relational cost of discipleship may seem harsh at first, but in the right perspective and priority this focuses our lives and makes them richer and fuller.
When I’m reading and studying and preparing for the sermons, I take notes and sometimes, when reading through one of the commentaries, Ill see a quote like this that I want to refer back to and Ill write in my notes which commentary and what page and then a few words to remind me what it is that I read or to help me find on the page what I wanted, and for this one, my summation was Love Better by Hating. And as I was going back through my notes, I saw that, and it made me laugh.
Its true though. To best love our families, to best love our spouses and our kids, to best love our neighbors and our Christian brothers and sisters, and to best love our enemies, we must first love and fully love Christ.
Ad as we saw last week, our families can be an idol to us. That’s a very easy one. Our spouses, kids, our parents, our grandkids, it can be so easy to put them above all, including God. But its not just our families. So many other things can easily become idols in our life.
Our lifestyle can be an idol for us, not willing to give up certain aspects of our way of life. Our comfort, our home and our house are some of the subtlest idols that come our way. Our location, our job, our possessions easily become idols. And maybe for many of us, the most subversive of them all, the one, along side family that would get the most pushback, our freedoms are an incredible idol here in America.
All of these things, we must hate in the biblical sense, if we are to love and follow Jesus.
Jesus continues and says that whoever follows Him must bear his own cross. This was before Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, remember. He told them, though they didn’t fully understand, that he was going to be put to death. And they of course knew what the cross was in terms of it being a tool used by the Roman government to put criminals to death. The point that Jesus is making here is that we are to deny our impulses and not give in to our temptations. The way to follow Christ is not to follow our hearts and our dreams and our desires. Those too often go directly against what Christ has for us.
Instead, we are to deny our self. We are to put to death the sin that lives inside of us. WE are to submit our dreams, desires and plans underneath what God has instore for us. Our dreams, desires and pans are not as important as what Gods desires and plans are for us.
In verses 28-32, Jesus gives us an example of why it is important to know what to expect before getting into it. We, as a church, cannot, or at least should not, just call up someone and have them come out and install a new heating and air system, just like that. We need to get an estimate, check the budget, make sure we can afford it, do some fundraising if needed and decide whether the price is both possible and worth it to get what we are looking for.
Essentially, Jesus is saying, don’t be surprised if troubles or obstacles pop up. He is telling us that they will pop up.
Briefly, this is not the point of this passage, but is supported by this and many other passages. When Jesus tells us don’t worry about what is going to happen, when he says not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear and all those other things, he is not telling us to not be prepared and not to plan. Those are good and biblical things that we are to do, be responsible and be good stewards and what God has given us.
Back to this passage. There are preachers and churches out there that will tell you that if you follow Jesus and trust in him and have enough faith that He will fix all your problems and that he wants you healthy, wealthy and wise.
Wrong! Those people are selling something. They say, have faith in him and all your dreams will come true. He will heal all your afflictions. You will get your dream family, your dream home, your dream job, etc. These people are appealing to those things that we mentioned earlier that we have made idols of in our lives. Are those bad things in and of themselves No, except when we elevate them high enough and sometimes say, Jesus Ill follow you if you give me these things.
If we follow him, dedicatedly, like he is saying here, then he will change our dreams, our desires to line up with his. He will heal the most important affliction, death due to sin separating us from communion with God. We will be content with the perfect will of Him at work in our lives.
Scriptures are quite clear that not all of Gods people are called to be successful in the way the world measures it. Not all are called to be wealthy in terms of physical possessions. Not all are called to have perfect health in this life. Some are called to have much and to be faithful with much. Some are called to have little and to be faithful with that little.
Another one of the points we take from this, is don’t start a fight you can’t win. And don’t come back at me and use Gideon or David as proofs that we should do just that. They didn’t. God did. They are the exceptions that prove the rule. God did that and he often does it in order to show us that we can’t.
Jesus is asking us, he is telling us to ask ourselves, can we finish the race? Now, we of course, cannot without his help, we can’t by ourselves. But we need to make sure that if we claim to follow Him, we are not just making a hasty decision.
Our goal, our desire, is to get to the end and to hear that we ran the good race, that we finished the race strong, Well done, good and faithful servant.
We don’t want to be like three of the four seeds on the parable of the Sower. Even if we convince ourselves and others that we are following Christ, if we fall away, if we don’t finish the race, we lose our witness, we lose our testimony. We discredit the name of Christ, and we tarnish the reputation of his bride, the church. Worst of all, we damn ourselves to Hell.
In verse 33, we see the third complimentary description of total commitment to Christ. Jesus says to renounce all, to put EVRYTHING under Christ. One commentator says it this way. Christianity is not religious justification to keep doing what we were already doing. If we are not changing our lives to out Christ 1st, we are not his disciples.
Jesus finishes up our section this week saying this: Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear
Jesus often uses salt to describe his disciples. In Matthew 5:13, he calls us the salt of the Earth. Salt back in that day was not pure salt. It was a mixture of salt and other minerals that it was harvested with. They didn’t know how to sperate the salt from the other stuff, so it was all sold as one. In that, sometimes that actual salt part of the salt would get used up and the salt had lost its saltiness. At that point, it had absolutely 0 value.
Salt preserves. It adds flavor. It is precious. But if it can no longer do what it was designed by God to do, then its is worthless. Just as we, if we claim to be disciples, if we can not do what it was that God designed us for, namely worshipping, serving and living for Jesus 100%, then we are worthless as well, specifically, spiritually worthless.
Ultimately, Jesus is asking us a question we have to answer for ourselves. Are we doing what we are called to do? Are we doing what God designed us to do? Are we following Christ and prepared for what he warns us it will cost?
Now, if you hold no claim to be a follower of Christ, there will be consequences for that decision, but the Bible says, that’s better than claiming to be a follower but not really being. James writes that teachers will be subject to harsher penalties and that principal applies wider than just teachers. There will be harsher penalties for those who claim it and don’t do it than for those who don’t claim it and don’t do it.
Continuing the pint Jesus has been making over and over the last few chapters of Luke’s Gospel, inspect yourself, and see, do you really believe? Do you trust and obey? DO you have faith in Christ alone? Are you willing to pay the price for discipleship? Is he number 1?
If you don’t believe in the historic teachings of the Bible.
If you don’t believe in Biblical inerrancy
If you don’t believe in Penal Substitutionary Atonement
If you don’t believe in the deity of Christ
If you don’t believe in a real, literal, physical Heaven and Hell
If you don’t believe in the inherent sinfulness of man
If you don’t believe that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
If you don’t want to pay the price to follow Christ as he calls us to follow him
Then don’t lay claim to the title of Christian.
IF you don’t believe, you don’t believe. Although we would implore you to believe, though we love you enough to try to show you the truth of the Gospel, no one can make you believe, and God can see through fake belief.
Lastly, when you count the cost, as with everything, not just with following Christ, when you count the cost, don’t forget to count the value you receive back as well. Jesus says He who has ears to hear, let him hear. If you hear what Jesus is saying, and you know the cost, and you are willing to pay the price, don’t forget that you get something back. Something of infinite value.
You get Jesus Christ himself.