Imagine with me, it’s the Middle Ages.
Let’s say it’s the year 1320
And there’s a poor peasant whose life is quite hard.
His home is made of earth and clay, with some basic wood thrown together.
It’s simple…one room.
He’s a laborer…and works 6 days a week.
And he buys his food each day with that day’s wages.
Life is not easy.
And on top of his poverty, he’s made plenty of poor choices in his life…which has only compounded the difficulty of his life.
Until one day, messengers from the castle come on a fancy carriage and they inform him that he is actually the long lost son of the King.
And not only that, he’s the heir to the throne
And so, as he grabs the hand of the messenger and steps into the carriage, he becomes…a prince.
But, even though he has technically become a prince instantly, and is no longer a peasant…
Truly becoming a prince, a royal, will take a lifetime.
The “Peasant-turned-Prince” has no clue how to eat properly
He doesn’t know how to govern
Or even how to read
Life will not be easier for him (It will be good).
But easy? Not easy.
And there are plenty of parallels here with the Christian life.
Important ones that we’ll see today in our passage in Luke,
We are now at the end of Luke 14
I know we don’t have Bibles under the chair for you right now, but when we go through a passage like this, I still would highly recommend you pause this for a sec, and go grab a Bible…
Or at least get your phone out so you can see the passage in front of you still.
Let’s take a look:
(Luke 14:25-35) – NIV
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 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. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
JESUS MUST BE FIRST
Notice the setting has changed from where we were the last two weeks.
Jesus is now speaking to a large crowd
His popularity is growing, and the crowds are increasing.
And sure, the crowds like Jesus…they’re impressed by Jesus…
But Jesus wants to know, will they follow Him when the going gets tough?
Jesus starts by making it clear that He must be their first priority.
He begins to say, “If you come to me to follow me, and you don’t hate your mom or dad, wife and children… you can’t be my disciple…one of my followers.”
Now, especially to the kids that are listening…that can sound confusing.
And I want you to know that Jesus isn’t saying you need to hate your mom and dad.
He’s doing what we call exaggerating to make a point…to help explain something.
He’s saying, that you should love Him SO much…that your love for your mom and dad should look almost like you don’t even like them…in comparison to how much you love me.
Jesus wants to be first in your life.
And He wants there to be absolutely no questions about who else might be in the running for first place.
It reminds me of a passage from earlier in Luke
(Luke 9:59-60) – NIV
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Nothing…nothing…should come before Jesus in our lives.
But putting Jesus first isn’t easy.
And here’s the main point of this passage…
And you could even summarize the main point of all of Luke chapter 14 this way:
Salvation costs you nothing, but discipleship will cost you everything.
Do you remember last week’s passage when the master who was holding the banquet (the one who represented God in the parable) said go invite in everyone to my banquet? Even the lame, the poor, and the blind?
Salvation…entrance to Jesus’ Kingdom…costs you nothing
You just need to believe.
It will cost you nothing.
But discipleship will cost you everything.
Discipleship is the process of actually following Jesus day-by-day.
It’s the process of making Him your Lord…the authority in your life…the one you’ve surrendered to.
That’s process…is hard…and will cost you everything if you do it right.
Jesus then goes on to say that you are to pick up your cross and follow Him.
What does that mean?
It means, we are to pick up the cross, this symbol of death (or execution)
It was the symbol of dying to yourself
He says, we are to “hate our own life” in comparison to how we feel about Jesus
We are to take our own wants, our needs, our desires…and submit them to Jesus.
We don’t get rid of them
But nor do we just put them in second place.
We submit them to Jesus.
We work at our jobs…to bring glory to Jesus
We love our kids…with the love of Jesus
All of our wants and desires and submitted to…and reoriented around Jesus…who is #1
By the way, this would be absolutely CRAZY for anyone to demand of you if they weren’t the Son of God.
Jesus is no ordinary teacher here.
No, He’s the Son of God, and He’s saying, that if you’re truly going to follow the Son of God, you need to put him first.
And if you’re not putting Him first, you’re not doing it right.
And we do this because of what He did for us
(2 Corinthians 5:15) – NIV
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
But to put Him first…
To follow Him even when your friends or relatives mock you for it…
…is not easy
Or to put Him first when the world is telling you 1,000 other things are more important…is not easy.
And as we always say, the greatest danger of idolatry comes not from what is bad, but from what is good.
But if Jesus is not first for you…this will not work
Over time your faith will break down.
I saw this a lot back when I was a youth pastor.
Parents would come to me in distress and say, “Why doesn’t my 18 year old want to follow God anymore? They grew up in the church…and now it’s like they don’t even think Jesus is remotely important?!”
And I would say, well, that’s because for 18 years…every time there was a schedule conflict between Jesus and hockey, or Jesus and vacation, or Jesus and drama club, or Jesus and school, or Jesus and family…
Jesus never was put first
So why would you expect them to put Jesus first in their lives?
Your actions have totally demonstrated to them that Jesus is not important.
No, if we’re going to truly be a follower of Jesus…He must be on the throne…He must be first in our lives.
But that will mean the death of many of our desires and wants.
And that doesn’t come easily.
COUNT THE COST
And so Jesus warns us that we must count the cost.
This is verse 28 now…where Jesus basically says, “It wouldn’t be wise to build a tower, get halfway through, and go, ‘Huh, I guess I don’t have enough money to complete it.’”
Now you’re going to count the cost first.
Then He says, “Neither are you going to rally all your people to war…
…and then get out on the battlefield and say, “Whoa, wait, we’re 10,000 soldiers short? Uh, whoops! Retreat!!”
No, you COUNT THE COST before you make the decision to start.
And I think sometimes when we explain what it means to follow Jesus in this country, we don’t do that part very well.
We tell them the part about how salvation will cost them nothing…that it’s free…
But we tend to leave out the fact that discipleship will cost them everything.
But, this is important.
If they don’t count the cost on the front end, they won’t be able to keep going when the going gets tough.
Sure, we definitely don’t want to give people the impression that they need to clean up their lives before they come to Jesus.
When that dirty, wayward peasant is told he’s now the prince….
…he doesn’t have to clean up his life to become a prince.
He’s been chosen.
But we don’t also want to give people the impression that Jesus won’t want to clean up their lives after they get adopted into His family.
Just like the peasant can’t keep acting like a peasant now that he’s a prince.
Timothy Keller says it this way:
“God invites us to come as we are not to stay as we are.” – Timothy Keller
I read an article, not that long ago, about what Church was like for many in Romania, in Eastern Europe during Communism.
And they said that when people came to pastors and said, “I have decided to become a Christian…”
The Romanian pastors would say, "It is good that you want to become a Christian, but we would like to tell you that there is a price to be paid. Why don't you reconsider what you want to do, because many things can happen to you. You will lose a lot of things.”
If people wanted to proceed as a disciple of Christ, they asked people to take part in a 3-month class where they would study what it truly means to follow Jesus.
At the end of this period, many participants declared their desire to be baptized as a true follower of Jesus.
Typically, the pastor would then respond, "It is really nice that you want to become a Christian, but when you give your testimony, there will be informers there who will jot down your name.”
“Tomorrow the problems will start.
“Count the cost.
“Christianity is not easy. You can be demoted. You can lose your job. You can lose your friends. You can lose your neighbors. This will affect your kids
You can lose even your life."
And the author then says, “But let me tell you my joy, when we looked into their eyes, and their eyes were in tears, and they told us, "If I lose everything but my personal relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ, it is still worth it."
Can you say the same?
Are you willing to lose everything to ensure that Jesus stays 1st in your life?
Or, when all of the social distancing is over…and you get busy again, will Jesus go back to backburner of your life?
And every time at work you feel like standing up against something immoral or unjust…will you just swallow your faith…because you are first…not Jesus
Or every time something on your schedule conflicts with Jesus…will he just keep getting pushed aside again?
Count the cost.
Because He’s not asking for part of your life, but ALL of it.
THE COST IS WORTH IT
And herein lies the great paradox of Christianity that Jesus hits on so often
Yes, he tells us in verse 33 that we must give up everything to follow Him.
But the truth is, in giving up everything, we gain everything.
My friend, in putting Jesus first, He’s not asking you to give up anything that will hurt you.
We keep clutching our idols of money and family and activities and pleasure and entertainment
And we won’t let them go…
Because we’ve wrongly convinced ourselves that the cost would be too great.
If we were to obey Jesus in that area…the cost would be great.
We’re like the peasant who became a prince saying, “It’s too hard to learn how to read, and say all of these titles and have responsibility…so I’m just going back to my shack in the village.”
And as you “Count the cost” don’t forget to count the benefit!
On the one hand, yes, Jesus is not lying to you…the cost to follow Him will be high.
It will be hard.
But surrendering, fully surrendering to Him will be so much better than continuing to disobeying Him and grasping onto your old life.
Our reward is great.
A relationship with the King.
Eternity in heaven.
And you must even ask yourself…if you say you are a Christian, but Jesus is never first in your life…
Perhaps you aren’t actually a Christian at all.
And what is the cost of not truly being one of his disciples?
Is choosing temporary pleasure and happiness but getting hell in the end “worth the cost?”
Count the cost.
If we could truly see, and truly count the cost with our eyes spiritually wide open, we would be like the man in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13:
(Matthew 13:44) – NIV
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
It cost that man everything he had to buy that field.
His family would have thought he was crazy
His neighbors would have thought he had lost his mind.
Such intense sacrifice!
But in correctly counting the cost, he knew that He had gained SO much more than he had ever had before.
And that is what Jesus wants you to know today.
Yes, putting Him first will not be easy.
Salvation costs you nothing, but discipleship will cost you everything.
But there is no better choice you can make.
I pray that you make the choice to put Jesus first… today, and tomorrow, and in all your days to come.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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