The answer, according to Billy Graham, was “Salvation is free but discipleship costs everything you’ve got.”
And discipleship means commitment.
How do you respond to that word “Committed“? Does it make you think of somebody being Consigned to an Institution or someone becoming dedicated to a cause? Well, I’m thinking of the latter.
Earlier in Chapter 14, Jesus has described salvation as a massive party to which all and sundry are invited, but to which many -unaccountably- turn their invitation down.
But now he sharpens the point of the invitation. It’s not just a matter of receiving the invitation but of following through on what that entails.
That is to say, to be committed to a journey with Jesus means a consistent readiness to bear the cost of discipleship.
“Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”
31 ‘Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he 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, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
34 ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure heap; it is thrown out.
‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’” (Luke 14: 25-35)
Even though “Great multitudes were going along with Him, ” (A phrase that warms the heart of any pastor!), Jesus knew that “mile wide, inch deep” was always more than a possibility. He knew that many were following Him for skewed or superficial reasons. Time to up the stakes.
So think about what you’re about to do. Deeply.
Jesus tells those stories; and notice the phrases, “sit down and calculate the cost,” referring to the man building the tower (14:28); and, “sit down and take counsel,” referring to the king considering going to war (14:31). Both refer to careful, detailed, rational thinking in which you consider all aspects of what you’re getting into before you make the commitment.
No impulse shopping please.
And no appeals to emotion or hype or peer pressure either. This calls for cool reason.
So here’s the price list.
We have to put our own families second (14:26).
That language about “hating” is scary, I know, but it’s a figure of speech, a kind of hyperbolic overkill to make a point. It’ like saying: “I want your love for me to be so fierce that everything else looks like hatred.”
It means prioritising.
Now, normally, there is no conflict between loving Christ and our family members also. But sometimes a tug of war develops, where a family member puts pressure on us to back off from or even abandon our love for Christ. In those tough times, we do not love either Christ or the family member if we accede to the pressure. We do not love the family member, because if we bow to the pressure, we are saying that Christ is not worthy of being followed above all others, and we keep the family member from seriously considering the claims of Christ.
Second, we have to carry our own cross (14:27).
As someone said, ” The cross was not an implement of irritation or inconvenience.” It meant slow torture and death. Jesus here is looking at the process of daily death to selfish desires and of the willingness to bear reproach for His name’s sake. We never provoke persecution, but if we suffer for the sake of righteousness, we must commit our lives to a faithful Creator in doing what is right (1 Pet. 4:19).
Again, this is a process in which we all must grow. If we blow it, we must confess it to the Lord and seek to be obedient the next time we have opportunity to suffer for Him. But if we aren’t involved in the process of carrying our own cross in death to self, we are not on the path of the disciple of Jesus Christ.
Third, we have to give up what we have (14:33).
After telling the two parables about considering the cost before making a commitment, Jesus concludes, “So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” Is that literal?
It’s a loaded question (or rather, a question you only ask when you’re loaded ).
Again, it’s about prioritising. Jesus said, emphatically: “You cannot serve God and Mammon” (16:13). In other words, you can’t just add Jesus to your already materialistic lifestyle as a way of rounding out your spiritual needs. To be a Christian means that you have been bought with a price and you are not your own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Nothing you own is your own. You become the slave of Christ and he owns everything.
I like the way Juan Carlos Ortiz tells the story of the pearl of great price. A man sees this pearl and says to the merchant, “I want this pearl. How much is it?”
The seller says, “It’s very expensive.” “How much?” “A lot!” “Well, do you think I could buy it?” the man asks.
“Oh, yes,” says the merchant, “everyone can buy it.”
“But I thought you said it was very expensive.” “I did.” “Well, how much?” “Everything you have,” says the seller.
“All right, I’ll buy it.” “Okay, what do you have?”
“Well, I have $10,000 in the bank.” “Good, $10,000. What else?” “That’s all I have.” “Nothing more?” “Well, I have a few dollars more in my pocket.” “How much?” “Let’s see … $100.” “That’s mine, too,” says the seller.
“What else do you have?” “That’s all, nothing else.” “Where do you live?” the seller asks. “In my house. Yes, I own a home.” The seller writes down, “house.” “It’s mine.”
“Where do you expect me to sleep—in my camper?” “Oh, you have a camper, do you? That, too. What else” “Am I supposed to sleep in my car?” “Oh, you have a car?” “Yes, I own two of them.” “They’re mine now.”
“Look, you’ve taken my money, my house, my camper, and my cars. Where is my family going to live?” “So, you have a family?” “Yes, I have a wife and three kids.” “They’re mine now.”
Suddenly the seller exclaims, “Oh, I almost forgot! You yourself, too! Everything becomes mine—wife, children, house, money, cars, and you, too.” Then he goes on, “Now, listen, I will allow you to use all these things for the time being. But don’t forget that they’re all mine, just as you are. And whenever I need any of them, you must give them up, because I am now the owner.” (Adapted from The Disciple)
That’s what Jesus means when He says that we must give up all our possessions in order to be his disciple. He isn’t just Lord of a tenth; He is Lord of all. We are just managers of it for him.
Because, finally, you must consider the cost of not following Christ.
For a start, you look a bit daft, like the man with the over-ambitious building project. “Everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” Satan loves it when a Christian’s testimony is ruined because he did not consider the demands of following Christ in this evil world.
And Jesus gives the picture of salt that has become tasteless. The salt in Jesus’ day was often corrupted with other substances. If moisture hit the salt, it would evaporate and leave behind these other impure minerals, so that the salt lost its saltiness. It was worthless for any useful purpose and had to be thrown away.
Jesus is simply saying that if a follower of his doesn’t live as he ought to live, he has lost his flavour.
And your flavour is what determines your usefulness!
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