“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “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. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. “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? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “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? 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. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”–Luke 14:25-33
The last few days we’ve been looking at what becoming a follower of Jesus requires of us. A couple of days ago we learned that anyone who follows Jesus must make sure that discipleship is a first priority. Second, we learned that there is a cost incurred upon us if we become his follower and we must carefully consider what it will require of us. But after determining the cost required of us, we must third, be willing to pay the price. In no uncertain terms Jesus told the crowd,“…no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.” Could it be any clearer than that? Jesus spells out the extremely high cost of discipleship. It will cost all we have. If we should choose to follow, there is no part of life immune to that call.
Abraham gave up his Son.
Moses gave up Pharaoh’s court.
Peter gave up his family and their fishing business.
Matthew gave up the lucrative profession of a tax collector.
Paul gave up his prestigious position as a Pharisee.
Now, unless you are called into full time Christian ministry you will not be asked to do as these men have done. But, none of us, clergy and laity alike, can escape the need to establish our priorities, count the cost, and pay the price. I have often wondered what would have happened to the church if Jesus’ disciples hadn’t made those ultimate sacrifices. If they hadn’t paid the price of discipleship with their very lives where would the church be? Geographically, Christianity is the most widely spread of all faiths, and a third of the earth’s 7 billion people claim Christ as their Lord. What kind of church would we be if the 12 had put down their crosses? Several centuries ago in a mountain village in Europe, a wealthy noble wondered what legacy he should leave to his townspeople. He made a good decision. He decided to build them a church. No one was permitted to see the plans or the inside of the church until it was finished. At its grand opening, the people gathered and marveled at the beauty of the new church. Everything had been thought of and included. It was a masterpiece. But then someone said, “Wait a minute! Where are the lamps? It’s really quite dark in here. How will the church be lighted?” The noble pointed to some brackets in the walls, and then he gave each family a lamp, which they were to bring with them each time they came to worship. “Each time you’re here,” the noble said, “the place where you are seated will be lighted. Each time you are not here, that place will be dark. This is to remind you that whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God’s house will be dark.” That’s a poignant story which makes a significant point about the importance of our commitment and loyalty to the Christ and Christ’s church. The poet Edward Everett Hale put it like this:
I am only one,
but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.
To follow Jesus, we must establish our priorities; count the cost and be willing to pay the price.
Loving God, we thank you for Your Son Jesus who was faithful in loving and serving us even to the point of death. Help us to serve him with the same faithfulness with which he served and gave his life for us. This we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Questions for Reflection
- What if every member of our church followed Jesus as you do? What kind of church would we have?
- What if every member served Jesus, loved Jesus, shared Jesus, and gave to Jesus exactly as you do? What kind of church would we be?
- What is Christ calling us to give up for Him today?