Summary: Jesus invites all of us to consider the possibility of becomeing his disciple, but he he is clear on the cost that is involved in doing so.
Fan or Follower Part 2: The Open Invitation
Some of the ideas in this sermon came from Kyle Idleman’s series Fan or Follower which we did at our church.
Have you seen one of those car commercials that says lease a brand new Kia for only $99? You see this beautiful car and below it, there is a paragraph in small letters on the screen for just a few seconds? Why is the print so small and why is it on there for just a few seconds?
I was walking down E. 79th Street thinking of switching my phone service. The cellular phone store I was going to had a large sign out front, “Switch to us and get a brand new phone.” I thought, “Great, I can get a cheaper rate and have an extra phone to play music in the church. I went in the place and was ready to sign up, only to discover that my current phone supplier was not included in the free phone switch plan. Why didn’t they put it out there on the sign? The sign made it seem like an open invitation.
Every invitation that we might receive, really is not for us. It is only for a group of people who meet certain qualifications. You can’t always believe the hype that no one is refused, regardless of their credit. Besides you don’t want to be at that place in the first place. It’s going to cost you a lot more than you should be willing to pay.
As Americans, we know that when a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably has a catch to it somewhere. Your unlimited internet plan means unlimited at one speed for the first movie you watch, but extremely slow for the rest of the month until you pay again. But of course there is a higher payment plan if you want to keep the same speed.
In Jesus’s day, if you wanted to become a religious scholar, you didn’t go off to college. You went and found a distinguished rabbi or a teacher that would train and instruct you. A rabbi would not accept just anybody for a disciple or a student. Students had to pass a rigorous knowledge of the first five books of the Bible. The exam were closed book. You might get a question like how many times is the Lord’s name use in the eleventh chapter of Leviticus? Wrong answer, you could not become that rabbi’s disciple.
Or start quoting the 4th chapter of Numbers. You see the quality of the student was a reflection on the rabbi. Rabbi’s did not want students who could not accurately reflect their level of knowledge and teaching. Rabbi’s were seeking students who had 4.0 gpa, 32 on the ACT and 1600 on the SAT’s. To get the best rabbi’s you had to be in the top of the class. You had to have a good reputation in the community. You had to be somebody or be from a family that was somebody to be chosen by the best rabbis.
Then this new rabbi appears on the scene, teaching at a level unheard of among the masses. When Jesus finishes a message, the people are saying, “where do this man get all this knowledge? We have never heard anything like this before. He speaks with such authority.” You may recall when Jesus was just a 12 year old boy, he had stayed behind in Jerusalem after Mary and Joseph had gone there for a religious festival. They found Jesus in the temple, and he was amazing the teachers with his answer and questions to the great scholars of his day.
Now if you wanted to be one of the future great religious leaders of the day, you want to be included in Jesus’s group of disciples. He is the hottest Rabbi of his time. So the people are wondering, what kind of test do you have to pass? How many books of the bible do you have to be able to memorize? What social standing do you have to have? How important does your family have to be? Who do you have to know to get an inside track to have Jesus accept you?
But then Jesus flips the script on what it was going to take to be one of his disciples, and he offers an open enrollment plan. He says in Luke 9:23 Luke 9:23 (NIV2011) 23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. or Luke 9:23 (NIV) 23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.