Summary: An honest look at following Jesus
Good morning Calvary, are you ready for the word of God. We will be looking at Ephesians 3:1-13 today. As you find this passage in your Bibles I want to confess to you when I began my ministry over 28 years ago, I was clueless. I had no idea what ministry involved. I did not really know all that was involved in being a Christian.
As I look back over those 28 years of confusion and misgiving, I wish now someone had been honest with me about this following Jesus. I remember my Sunday School teacher, and she was a sweet lady, saying, when you become a Christian Jesus takes all your troubles. What she did not say was, yes Jesus takes your trouble, but that does not mean you don’t have to work them out.
How about you, did you know what following Jesus would involve for you. That you might lose friends, that you might be criticized, you would have to suffer as a Christian.
That was not a part of the conversation I had before I signed on the dotted line. But I have learned in the last 28 years, there is price to pay to follow Christ.
So would you like to learn what the real cost of Follow Jesus is?
O.K. look with me at Ephesians 3:1.
3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-
Let’s stop right there. Paul said he is a prisoner of Christ Jesus.
Now he is not using the word prisoner is some metaphoric way, like I am a prisoner in this job, or I am a prisoner to by marriage. NO! He is really a prisoner, chained between two ugly Roman guards. He knows the pain of the steel shackles cutting into the tender flesh around his wrist and ankles. He has felt the metal against flesh until the friction burnt this skin raw.
But, I don’t believe the restraints were his greatest pain.
As a pastor, his greatest pain was the separation from his church.
He knew that young couples were getting married, but he could not take part. He knew children were being welcomed into the church, but not by their pastor, because he was in prison. The people he loved. The people he had led. The people who were closest to him, were cut off, separated, isolated from him.
He had to have felt disconnected, detached, removed from everyone he loved. Can you feel his pain in those words “the prisoner of Christ Jesus.”
But in the midst of the isolated, the separation, the detachment, a note of victory is still sounded.
Listen again, “the prisoner of who.” Yes, Paul understood it was Nero the Imperor who had placed him in prison, but he knew Jesus was still in charge. Paul understood Nero might thing he is large and in charge, by compared to Jesus, Nero was a small blemish on the face of history.
Paul truimply declares, I may be in prison, but Jesus is still in control, I may be down, but I am not out. It may be dark now, but the Son, S-O-N is still on the throne.
Paul understood something, I did not when I came to follow Jesus, that is, the is a cost to follow Jesus.
For Paul it was a major financial and physically cost. He was beaten and left for dead. He had to go without meal, he was ship wreaked and thought lost at sea, and here he is waiting in prison to be executed. Paul understood all to well the cost of following Jesus.
I want you to know there is going to be a cost to following Jesus. Friends you have might consider you crazy. Co-workers might harasses you. If family member might turn their backs on you. There is always a cost to following Jesus.
Jesus cautions us to count the cost.
Luke 14: 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not 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, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.