Summary: Christianity isn’t a place where people can laze around until the day they die and then slink into heaven. We’re either serious now or we aren’t serious at all.
The cost of discipleship Luke 14:25-35
God was talking with Adam and He said, “You really need a helper, don’t you?” And Adam answered, “Yeah, I really do.” So God said, “What if I make a woman? She’ll be perfect for you. She’ll be beautiful. She’ll rub your back at night, and your feet in the morning. She’ll plop grapes into your mouth. She’ll prepare all your favorite meals without fail. She’ll clean up the kitchen and take care of the kids. You’ll never have to do a thing, just sit around and be the king of the house.” Adam said, “Boy, that sounds great, but how much is this going to cost?” God said, “Well, it’s pretty expensive. It will cost you an arm and a leg.” Adam thought for a moment and then asked, “What can I get for a rib?” And the rest as they say is history.
“And there went great multitudes with Him: and He turned, and said unto them, ‘If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.’”
Here we see multitudes of people are following Jesus and He’s on His way to be crucified while they’re all going up to Jerusalem for the yearly Passover feast. And all these people are acting like they’re totally dedicated to Him and yet, it’s to this very crowd that Jesus makes an appeal, for those who are willing to pay the price, to get serious about their commitment. And commentators tell us there could have been thousands of people here.
So, Jesus isn’t talking to people who are antagonistic towards him or even to those who weren’t interested in what He had to say but these were actually those who thought He had all the answers to all the problems in the world. They were both positive in their attitude and they were interested in what he had to say, but the problem was, they thought that just having a positive attitude and listening to what He had to say was what discipleship was all about. And I think there are still many who are willing to follow Jesus as long as everything works out right and they think the church is a great place for fellowship but that’s as far as they want to go.
And as we look at this crowd we’re seeing people who walked with Him all the way from Galilee up to Jerusalem. Now, I know Johnny Cash wrote a song where he said Jesus never traveled more than thirty miles from the place He was born but if you look at a map you’ll see that Galilee to Jerusalem was about 65 miles. And don’t forget that Jesus had also lived in Egypt as a child and Egypt was around four hundred miles. So, it was a nice song but it wasn’t true.
Most preachers would get really excited about having such a large and enthusiastic congregation and yet Jesus seems to be winnowing out the wheat from the chaff and tells them that everyone who follows Him are going to have to die to self and this might even mean physical death and that the kingdom they’re so excited about will only come about through His crucifixion, death and resurrection. And by explaining the cost of discipleship He certainly thins out the crowd. You see, He’s not concerned about the size of His congregation because Jesus knows better than anyone that size is not a guarantee of success. But He’s concerned about the spiritual quality of those who are following Him.