Summary: A talk on the true meaning of following Christ, and the relationship every believer should have with Him.
Endure the Path (v. 9:57-62)
Here Jesus defines the role of a follower of Jesus in terms of commitment. He likens it to a slave who has no home, no family, or no earthly ties that would prevent them from leaving it all. As we read these statements, it seems like Jesus is being so hard. But he is telling these things to people that outwardly say they want to follow Him. He is saying that they my not know what they are asking. He says many will feel called, but few will be chosen. Many will be on the broad, easy path, but few will be on the narrow, difficult path. Slaves have no rights, not even to their own opinion. Everything they have, touch, or look at belongs to someone else, and most of it belongs to the Master. They didn’t have a good idea about how to use their Master’s things, they simply did what they were told; without question, hesitation, or adjustment. Many seeds will never come to fruition. Some will receive with joy the word, but it never gets down into the good soil.
Illustration: A missionary society wrote to David Livingstone and asked, “Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you.” Livingstone wrote back, “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.” “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Know that the definition of the relationship that Jesus wants with you is that of a faithful servant. Your life will be hard. If you really live for Him people will laugh at you, talk bout you behind your back. You will be tempted to tone it down so you can fit in. You may be overlooked for promotions, and you may miss out on some “fun,” but that’s why Jesus called it a narrow path. He calls you to love your enemies and hate your family. He calls you to sell all your stuff and lay up treasure in heaven. He calls you to care for the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, look out for the widows and orphans. And we are looking out for ourselves, and have all kinds of good reasons why we have quit coming to SS or church. Or why we miss this function or that one. Our excuses and inconsistencies reveal things that are not right, and make us question whether or not we can endure the path.
Treasure the Lord (v. 14:25-33)
Jesus makes some of the most outrageous statements here, especially for us here in the evangelical south. In Luke 6:32-35, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who are wicked toward us. Another place Jesus tells us that we must forgive all who wrong us or God will not forgive us. He tells us to pray for the government and those who persecute us. Here He says to hate our families. The idea here is that in comparison to how you love Christ, the love you have for your family should look like hate. He is teaching us the principle that even the most precious things in life are secondary to Him.
Illustration: “...renouncing all does mean that everything we have is totally at Jesus’ disposal for purposes that please him and that it must never get in the way of radical obedience to his command of love.” – Piper, For example, a young man meets a young woman. They are immediately attracted to one another. They both say to themselves, “Now there is someone I’d like to marry.” At that point, if the emotions had their way, there would be a wedding. But the intellect intervenes, questioning the impulsive emotional response. Would we be compatible? What is she really like? Can I afford to support her? Both conclude it would be better to take some more time and answer a few questions before they proceed. So the two begin spending more time with each other. He eventually concludes that she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Now his intellect has sided with the emotions on the idea of marriage. But the final and heaviest vote remains to be cast—that of the will. It stops the march toward the altar with the questions, “Am I willing to give up this lifestyle for another? What about my freedom—is it worth the trade? Am I willing to assume the added responsibility?” The marriage will occur only when the will finally agrees with the emotions and the intellect. And so it is in coming to Christ, “salvation is not simply a choice of the will. It is not simply a mental assent. It is not simply some religious ritual that you can perform. It is selling out, everything that you ever have or will have to gain something that you cannot lose. It is a reevaluating of all things, not only intellectually, but in your heart. It means total sacrifice, reckless abandonment, unconditional discipleship, complete followership. And the value of the Kingdom supersedes all these costs. It is worth more than any earthly treasure, pleasure, or relationship. It is worth more than all the treasures, pleasures, and relationships of the entire world from the beginning of time combined.” Text to the hymn, “I’d Rather Have Jesus”