The Cost of Following Jesus Part One
Luke 9: 57-62
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him: “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
He said to another man: “Follow me.”
But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him: “Let the (spiritually) dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said: “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
Jesus replied: “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
- How much would you be willing to pay for a ‘new’ car?
- How much are you ready to pay for your next holiday?
- What price would you place on the health and wellbeing of your children or grandchildren or those you love most dearly?
- How much money or possessions would you accept in exchange for turning your back on Jesus Christ?
In short, what value do you place on being Jesus’ disciple?
Consider where you lie on the “committed to Jesus Christ spectrum”…
- On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is utterly committed to Christ, such that you would sacrifice anything and everything to do His will… and 1 is following Him, providing it doesn’t interfere with your life style or make much difference?
- Now consider what score would merit someone being described as a “disciple” as opposed to a mere ‘convert’!
Let’s bear this thought in mind as we consider the case of three men who claimed that they wanted to follow Jesus…
Because it’s easy to be judgemental or a bit smug about their responses without considering our own attitude!
- One jumped in without thinking carefully: Mr Hasty
- One made excuses because he lacked faith: Mr Play Safe
- One procrastinated and tried to buy time: Mr Wait and See
And Jesus had something important to say to each person… and therefore to each of us because there may be something of “me” in those men
In essence Jesus spelled out the cost involved in following Him.
Before we look at those costs, we need to underscore the fact that there are huge benefits in being a genuine follower of Jesus Christ… Here are some of the promises (guarantees)…
- The promise of new life… If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness (Romans 8: 10)
- The promise of the Spirit of Christ living within us (2 Cor 13 v 5b)
- The promise of godliness with contentment (I Tim 6 v 6)
- The promise that our burdens will be carried and true rest found (Matthew 11 v 28)
- The promise of guidance by a straight path (Luke 13 v 24)
- The promise that He will be with us to the end of the Age (Acts 1)
Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour seems to be pure unadulterated GOOD NEWS… and it is… BUT there’s a cost involved that perhaps we understate when talking about becoming His disciple
Let’s look at what Jesus said to three men who claimed that they wanted to be one of His disciples BUT…
Mr Hasty jumped in without thinking carefully enough about the implications of his decision…
- The man (a teacher of the law, see Matthew 8) said that he would follow Jesus wherever he went
- But Jesus warned him to count the cost
Faith is not defined as rushing ahead in a blind way without considering the implications of our actions
Some people claim: “The Lord speaks to me and I obey”
- Well, that may be true in principle… but working it out in practice requires prayerful consideration, wise counsel, step by step obedience and a willingness to accept that our first inclination is not necessarily correct!
There are instances, of course, where people have received such a clear word from God that they are in absolutely no doubt about what they must do
- I suggest that such instances are rare…which may say something about the closeness of our walk with God…
I once heard a church leader say that he was the one with vision; others had to put the vision into practice!
- But Jesus does not separate the vision from the practice!
- He tells the lawyer that having a desire to follow Him is not enough… We have to consider the cost and implications
WE ASSUME THAT Mr Hasty DID NOT FOLLOW JESUS
- But perhaps he did
- Perhaps he realised that discipleship is not something to be entered into lightly but decided that the cost was worthwhile.
* * * * * * *
By contrast, Mr Play Safe hesitated for too long because he appears to lack faith or courage or urgency…
The old adage says: “He who hesitates is lost!”
- But it is also true that he who hesitates is sometimes saved!
- It’s a matter of exercising faith and wisdom to know the way
Jesus asked the man to follow Him…but the man had other priorities… better things to do!
It seems a perfectly reasonable request…to bury his father…
- But scholars say that the father was not yet dead!
- The man wanted to wait until his father died because, were he to follow Jesus and the father died while he was away, he could lose out on the estate
LET’S NOT BE TOO SMUG ABOUT THIS MAN’S CONCERNS!
- There are many occasions when you or I might consider that the cost is too high…
Giving up our time or money… or forfeiting our pleasure… or helping someone that we wouldn’t normally choose to help… or speaking about our faith when to do so invites ridicule!
- “Follow me”, says Jesus
- “Yes, but”… is an answer that comes all too readily to us
WHATEVER DECISION WE MAKE about commitment to Christ, the overarching requirement is always the same… Yes, Lord!
* * * * * * *
Mr Wait and See procrastinated and tried to buy time
- His excuse also seems reasonable…to say goodbye to his family!
What’s so wrong with that?
We have to remember that Jesus looks into the heart
- He knows when we are ‘half-hearted’… He recognises that we are inclined to search for safety and security in familiar situations rather than stepping out in faith
He also knows that family and friends can be influential in persuading someone not to be obedient to the Lord if it entails great cost… great sacrifice…
For example, Parents of missionaries may not get to see their grandchildren very often
- Family and friends may warn against ‘getting too serious’
- They fear that the person is becoming obsessed or worse!
Mr Wait and See wanted the best of both worlds… he wanted the security and benefits that come with being a disciple of Christ… but was unwilling to accept the cost involved
And what of you and me?
- Are we tentative about being wholehearted in following and obeying Christ and becoming a true disciple?
- Do we say, in effect, thus far and no further!
The truth is that we all fall short of being totally committed to Christ …
We praise God for the benefits of salvation but perhaps some of us need to look afresh at the level of our commitment and whether, like those three men, we are finding excuses about becoming a wholehearted disciple of the One who sacrificed everything for you and me on the Cross of Calvary.
So, let’s return to my “Commitment to Jesus Christ Spectrum”…
Now, what’s your score? What is mine? Do we score highly enough to be referred to as one of His disciples!