Summary: Before becoming a Chrstian we need to count the cost. What would it mean once we make the decision and how would our lives change?
Series: What is Christianity #3
Being a Christian--What Would it Mean?
What Would it Cost?
INTRODUCTION: It is said that “the entrance fee to the Christian life is nothing at all, but the annual subscription is everything you have.”
In this scripture large crowds were following Jesus. It was the popular thing to do, but Jesus addressed the crowd by saying, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Wow! This hit them right between the eyes. He went on to say, “and anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
1. Jesus Takes Precedence: Jesus wanted the crowds to think about what was really involved in following him. What would it mean to be a disciple? What would be the cost for them? Many of the people in this crowd had followed Jesus simply for the benefits--the free bread and fish, the healings, the popularity; but Jesus wanted them to understand the true cost of discipleship over the long haul. To the people living in that culture to neglect social customs pertaining to family loyalties would probably have been interpreted as HATE. Today we think of hate as something different from what Jesus was trying to get across to them here.
The Greek word used here for hate is miseo and the way it is used in this scripture is that of preference of one thing over another. If, for example, it came to a choice of Jesus or something or someone else, what would the choice be? He is saying here that if it came to a choice, Jesus should come out number one and the others--even family would be in number 2 spot. A true disciple of Christ would disregard the claims of one person or thing to those of Jesus. So he is not saying here--”I want you to HATE your father, mother, etc. as we think of hate. What he wants to get through to the crowd and to us today is that to be a disciple of His takes PRECEDENCE over the claims of other persons and other things. Matthew 10:37 clarifies it by saying, “Anyone who loves his father and mother more than me is not worthy of me.
Another way to explain this is from the Message Bible. “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to LET GO OF father, mother, spouse, children…can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow me can’t be my disciple.”
Jesus wanted the crowd to think through their enthusiasm for Him. He encouraged those who were superficial to either make a deeper commitment or to turn back. Many of these people followed Christ as long as the benefits lasted, as long as it didn’t cost them any sacrifice; but once the pressure was on before the crucifixion, they drifted away. In this scripture He was speaking to their superficiality and their shallowness. And today He speaks to us as well. As you listen to people talking today, you can quickly hear their level of commitment. Many people have more important things to do than to follow Jesus. How many people allow their work, their families, their recreation, their money, all to take PRECEDENCE over Jesus. “If I don’t have anything better to do, I’ll come to church Sunday. If I don’t have to do something else, I’ll serve the Lord.”
What did Jesus mean when he told them that “anyone who does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple?”
Jesus’ audience was well aware of what it meant to carry one’s cross. When the Romans led a criminal to his execution site, he was forced to carry the cross on which he would die. This showed his submission to Rome and warned observers that they had better submit too. The judicial custom by which the condemned person carried his stake to the place of execution was applied by the Lord to those sufferings by which his faithful followers were to express their fellowship with Him. Matthew 10:38 says, “And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Would the people be willing to submit to His authority? Are we willing to submit to His authority?
Jesus is telling these people that discipleship requires a conscious advance commitment made with a realistic estimate of the ultimate personal cost.
ILLUSTRATION: When we were in Guatemala we were in the backseat of an old junky car. We were on our way to a birthday party. The driver of the car was talking to us about the Lord and driving very fast through the Guatemalan traffic. He turned around and looked at us and sings, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.” I think this is an example of the conscious, deliberate decision that Jesus was talking about.