Luke 9:57-62; 14:25-33 — Put Christ first!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 4, 2012 AM
We would not think of taking a trip without counting the cost. Yet there are folks who do not think twice about spending money they do not have by placing their purchases on credit. Jesus related, “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? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30 NIV) Defaults on home mortgages are at an all time high, bankruptcies the same, and when a financial planner was asked recently if it was economy he replied, “Yes and no. “Yes”, the economy has left some of these folks in dire straits, but “No” because for the majority they simply were spending more than they brought in. They did not count the cost.”
For disciples, the journey was not just about where Jesus was going but more about what they were becoming. In his teaching Jesus clearly drove home the point that he demanded first place in the lives of his followers. Often it is not the outright evil we do that replaces Jesus in our lives but rather the good that becomes bad when it keeps us from the best— Jesus. Jesus was straightforward in not accommodating anything less than complete devotion to him. Jesus demanded loyalty, personal sacrifice, and commitment to him alone. A superficial, flippant decision will not do, because in following Jesus one must first count the cost. This morning let’s discover how…
Americans spend more than any other nation on their personal comfort. Recently a study was done on the poorest in our nation. It was learned that 60% have cable/satellite TV and cell phones, 40% own computers while 30% have personal Internet access. Is it any wonder then that it is a tough sell to American Christians in asking them to personally sacrifice in serving Christ? Jesus relates that we count the cost of following Christ when we place…
I. Christ above our personal comfort! (Luke 9:57-58)
1. “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth…” – C. S. Lewis
1) A man approached and wanted to follow Jesus and his disciples where they were going. Jesus’ response is very interesting. He related that a person desiring to follow him must give up what others consider necessities in life, security and a roof to sleep under! In our nation we voice our concern when we think our perceived “rights” are infringed upon and many of us think our personal comfort is a guaranteed divine right! Notice, however, what Jesus tells him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus literally tells him that he and his followers had no home to rest in or a place to find security and refuge! Lest you forget, I want you to remember, they were on their way to Jerusalem where Jesus would be illegally tried and put to death! Far too often we are very quick to say we will follow Jesus wherever he may lead, but we forget that being a disciple of Christ demands we are ready and willing to give up that which we consider our own personal comfort!
EXAMPLE: Recently we bought a new mattress, but before we did the one we slept on was awful. I would often wake up multiple times during the night with a myriad of aches and pains. In the midst of looking for a new mattress to sleep on, I came across these verses of Scripture. They kind of humbled me, not because I was looking for a new mattress, but it made me think anew about what I see as my own personal spiritual comfort and what Jesus willingly physically sacrificed for me so that I could enjoy what I do today! What personal comfort was I willing to give up for the cause of Christ? Being a disciple of Christ demands we are ready and willing to give up that which we consider our own personal comfort!
Jesus continued his case for his disciples putting him above all else. Family ties are the strongest and closest of earthly ties. The Bible affirms responsibilities to family members (Ex. 20:12). Nevertheless, when it comes to a decision of priority, the choice should be Jesus. Jesus invited another—someone different from the previous person—to be his disciple. Personal comfort is one thing, but family loyalty takes discipleship demand to a higher level. We count the cost of following Christ when we place…
II. Christ above our family loyalty! (Luke 9:59-62; 14:25-26)
1. If blood is thicker than water, then the blood of Christ is thicker than all! — Leeferism
1) Jesus called the next man with the same words of follow me he had called his disciples with (Luke 5:27). The man’s replies that he first wanted to go and bury his father. Perhaps the man’s father was already dead, except then he would have already been engaged in the burial procedure of mourning. More than likely the man’s father was ready to die or near death. He then was asking Jesus to wait just a little while before following him. Maybe the man wanted to receive an inheritance from his father’s estate, yet, Jesus’ response, “Let the dead bury their own dead”, implies that the spiritually dead can bury the physically dead! Was Jesus being intentionally cruel? No! Proclaiming the kingdom of God cannot wait. The third man simply wanted to go home and say good-by to his family. These men had to make up their minds because “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” In fact, later, Jesus tells his disciples, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26 NIV) Therefore the implication is that the disciple must make a radical commitment that often demands Christ above our family loyalty!
EXAMPLE: In the movie The Godfather, which was about the mafia’s rise to power in the United States, we hear the main characters saying over and over that family loyalty is the most important thing. This notion was based on the misguided notion that even if a family member was involved in crime, their family should be loyal. In our day and age family does not have as strong as an influence as it once did because of the dysfunctional aspects of so many, yet there still is the misguided notion that family ties should be stronger than our loyalty to Christ. This simply is not true. The reason: Families are made up of if sinful folks! The message of the cross cuts across all family ties. The blood of Christ calls us to a higher commitment that demands Christ above our family loyalty!
In addition to putting Christ above family, Jesus added a second requirement for discipleship. The disciple must put Christ above self. Specifically, the stipulation is to bear one’s own cross, a requirement that pictures the crucifixion. In fact, a crucifixion victim carried his own cross beam to the place of death. It was the death Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem to face. Discipleship is not a picnic. Yet if anyone does not put Jesus above any cost, Jesus said he or she cannot be His disciple. We count the cost of following Christ when we place…
III. Christ above any price! (Luke 14:27-33)
1. The footprints we leave behind in life for others to follow are defined by our faithfulness and sacrifice! — Leeferism
1) When Rome crucified someone, the victim was often forced to carry his cross part of the way to their crucifixion! Carrying the means of their death through the city was a tacit admission Rome was right in their death sentence. So when Jesus encouraged his followers to carry their crosses and follow him, he was referring to a public display before others that he was right and that the disciples were to follow him even to their deaths! Then, using two illustrations, Jesus teaches that discipleship must include planning and sacrifice. Discipleship is not done on a whim. The first concerned building a tower. Before building one should be sure they can pay the full cost of the project! Jesus’ followers must also be sure they are willing to pay the full price of discipleship. The second illustration concerned a king who went to battle. The king should be willing to sacrifice victory if he knows he is unable to win. Jesus relates, “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Those who follow Jesus must be willing to give up “anything” because the message of the cross is the most important thing in all of Creation! We count the cost of following Christ when we place Christ above any price!
EXAMPLE: Rumors of the execution of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani were leaked this week after a source close to one of his lawyers contacted international media, informing them that a lower court had signed Nadarkhani’s execution papers and that his death sentence would be carried out soon, sources told Compass Direct News. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is facing execution in Iran. His crimes? He is an apostate who abandoned Islam. He was convicted of practicing Christianity, trying to register home churches, and the mandatory Islamic religious education of his children. The pastor was given an option. Recant his faith and he can live. His faith is his life. He refused. He is condemned to be lynched. Persecution, even martyrdom, has been the cost of discipleship for Christians down through the centuries. In many lands believers still suffer imprisonment and death for their uncompromising devotion to their Savior. Even in nations that supposedly have religious freedom, as Iran claims to have, a person with a bold witness for the Lord may become the target of ridicule or more. We count the cost of following Christ when we place Christ above any price!
When we put Christ first we willingly place Christ above our personal comfort, we place Christ above our family loyalty, and we place Christ above any price!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.