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Entries in Cost (1)


Have You Counted the Cost?

Today we will look at Luke 14:25-35.

At this point in Luke 14, Jesus has left the home of the leading Pharisee with whom he had a Sabbath meal.  Although multitudes are following him, Jesus takes time to make it clear what it really takes to become his disciple.  Just being in the crowd was not enough to make someone a disciple.  Jesus was headed somewhere that their flesh would not want to go.  Only a strong submission to the leadership of Jesus could carry a person through the challenging times ahead.  The same is true today.  Have you sat down and figured out what it may cost you to remain faithful to Jesus and who He truly is?

Our Primary Relationship

Who is the most important person in your life?  It can change depending upon your age and experience.  However, Jesus puts the challenge to those following him.  If you want to be my disciple then I must be the primary relationship of your life.  You see, up to now Jesus has been a bit of a novelty.  People would go out to see him because it was interesting.  Others went out because the hoped to be healed.  But no one understood that to follow him would require them to put their life on the line.  The discipleship of these people would not last past the cross if Jesus doesn’t begin to open their eyes to what it means to follow him.

Thus, Jesus walks through those most important relationships that we tend to have: parents, a spouse, children, siblings, and even our self.  No matter how we prioritize those relationships in our life, Jesus must now move to the top- that is if we think about it in authoritarian terms.  If we think about it in foundational terms then he must become the foundational relationship of our life.  Now, lest we protest to greatly, it is good to notice that following Jesus will enable us to love each of these relationships in truth.  Without Christ we find difficulty in sacrificially loving one another.  But with Christ, our relationship with Him is threatened when we do not lay our life down for each other.  Staying with Christ becomes more important than getting what we want out of our relationships.

Yet, Jesus uses the word “hate.”  How can this be that we should hate our parents?  Elsewhere he tells them to love their enemies.  Now, we can write Jesus off as a teacher of contradictions, or we can lean in and try to understand what he is talking about.  Clearly there is some shock value to this statement.  The crowd is following Jesus without thought to what it will cost to follow Him absolutely.  Thus he shocks them out of their lethargy. 

However, Jesus is not using hate in the sense of anger, detest, and desire to tear down.  There is a cultural usage of this term that we do not have here in the United States of America.  When hate is used in the context of choosing one thing over another, it rarely means the kind of hate that we think of.  Let’s go to an example that is found in Genesis 29:31.  Here Jacob has been tricked into marrying Leah and her sister Rachel.  Jacob only wanted to marry Rachel, but her father manipulated him into marrying Leah too.  The Bible tells us that, “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb.”  Most modern translations will moderate this word to “unloved.”  Now it is clear that Jacob didn’t hate Leah in any active way.  In fact they would have children.  We would not have used the word “hate” in this context.  But, if someone followed Jesus at the expense of their family, many would be left shaking their head wondering what the person was thinking.  Perhaps to best understand this use is to see it from the view point of the person not being picked.  When you are not chosen, you don’t simply feel unloved.  In a sense, you feel rejected and hated.  Jesus is not calling his disciples to quit loving their friends and families.  But if they had to choose between a relationship with Jesus or with anyone on that list, they must choose Jesus.

Jesus then brings up the image of the cross.  The disciples of Jesus must follow him by carrying a cross.  This image is intended to point out our readiness and determination to die in order to follow Jesus.  The cross represents all the things I am going to have to die to in order to be a disciple of Jesus.  Jesus himself had a choice.  He could follow the plan of the people to make him king and conquer the Romans.  Or, he could follow the plan of his Father.  He had a choice to make.  To many of the Jews, his choice was a rejection of them.  But in reality Jesus loved them and wanted them to all become his disciples.  However, he could not reject his Father.  Thus we will find ourselves in situations where Jesus wants us to do one thing, but our family may want us to do another.  We must be willing to sacrifice everything in order to have Jesus.  This may sound hard, but it is the teaching of Jesus.

Now, we do not all lose the same things in following Jesus.  In fact, many families have been saved and have had long traditions of serving Jesus.  Thus there was never a choice to be made between Jesus and family.  However, some have had to.  When it comes to relationships, the disciple of Jesus is to love everyone, even his enemies.  Yet, sometimes those we are in relationship do not like our relationship with Jesus.  If they ever lay down an ultimatum and require us to choose then we must choose Jesus.  We see this with the apostles in the book of Acts.  They were pulled in before the authorities and told to stop preaching about Jesus.  These guys were not trying to be rebels against the government, but they were trying to follow Jesus.  Thus they say, “You must judge whether in God’s eyes it is right to listen to you and not to God.  We cannot promise to stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard.”  Jesus had commanded them to preach the good news about what he had done and accomplished.  But the legal authorities were commanding them to disobey Jesus.  Thus the response is that they will not make such a promise.  However, later when they are apprehended they submit to the persecution and even loss of their lives because these are the very things Jesus promised them would be.  So it is not that I will have to choose between relationships, but I must have decided already in my heart that Jesus is Lord and Master.  Jesus doesn’t want to rid you of any relationships with people.  But he does want to rid us of our relationship with sin in our life.  Thus the disciple is a person who allows the Lord to prune their life in order to become more fruitful for God.

We Must Count The Cost

Starting in verse 28 Jesus gives two illustrations of counting the cost.  Following Jesus is costly and a wise man will sit down and think it through first.  Can I pay such a price?  The first illustration is building a tower.  To begin such a project and then fall short would cost a person financially and socially.  I would be wiped out financially and people would mock me and lack any trust in my future endeavors.  Now this is a good illustration because God wants to build in us the character and person of Jesus Christ.  He wants to make us be like Jesus.  That kind of work will cost us in a lot of different ways.

Likewise, he uses the illustration of going to war.  It would be foolish to persist in a war that you cannot win.  Rather, you would stop and seek terms of surrender.  This is also a good illustration because we are in a battle.  The devil does not want anyone becoming like Jesus.  He works day and night to trap people in bondages that keep them from seeing Christ and especially becoming like him.  So here Jesus puts his terms on the table.  He will not settle for anything but the primary place in your life.  He will not share your allegiance with the devil.

It is possible that you could lose everything in this world to follow Christ.  Of course the odds go up or down depending on where you live.  At this point in America the odds are not very high that you will lose everything.  But, they are increasing every day.  In fact, this has been the normal in many countries of the world.  Even historically it was the norm in Europe.  That is why our ancestors left Europe seeking the New World.  They were fleeing tyranny in order to be free to serve Jesus.  They had to be willing to let go of their denominations, their relatives, even their nation in order to have Jesus.  Yet, today the New World has become the Old World once again.  To where will we flee?  At some point it is time to stop running and simply stand no matter what comes.  Jesus and I must stand as one regardless of the ultimatums the world may hurl at us.

To Become Like Him

Jesus ends this section with the imagery of salt.  His disciples would be the salt of the world.  Salt affects whatever it touches because of its nature.  If we follow Jesus he intends to change our nature to where we will affect the world around us.  Like salt, our commitment to living out the godly life of Jesus will slow down the moral decay of the world around us.  Also like salt, our faith in Jesus makes us desirable to God.  In and of ourselves we are like bland food that few want to eat.  But with Jesus we become tastier, not just to God, but some people in life are drawn by the “flavor” of a person following Jesus- the sacrificial life.

Jesus lays down the gauntlet with this crowd.  You either move forward and become like Jesus, or you shrink back and fall away as salt that has lost its saltiness.  I doubt you have ever bought salt from the store only to find it useless.  But this was not rare in the days of Jesus.  Such salt is useless and thrown away.  When the Spirit of God takes up residence within us and makes us over to be like Jesus, we become spiritually “salty.”  Many people like the idea of following Jesus, but the reality causes them to shrink back.  At this point some completely fall away.  However, others simply redefine Jesus to fit what they now believe.  Later they may step further back away from the True Jesus and yet redefine him again.  All along they tell themselves that they are disciples of Jesus, yet they have never died to anything in order to follow him.  How about it, have you counted the cost?  Do so today and choose to follow Jesus no matter what.

counted cost audio