Luke 14

Introduction

“One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not? “But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.”  Luke 14:1-4

Jesus At A Pharisee’s House

Jesus was doing a bit of table talk as He ate in the house of a prominent Pharisee. They were having a Sabbath meal and from the very beginning, the Pharisees had been watching Jesus to see what He would do.

And so as usual Jesus astounded them by healing a man who was suffering from dropsy on the Sabbath. Dropsy is a symptom of a disease of the heart, liver, kidneys, or brain. It involves fluid retention and swelling in the body cavities or in the limbs.

We know, the customs then which were observed around the dinner table were quite different from today. The Greeks and the Romans ate their meals in the reclining position either on the floor or on low couches, drawn up against low tables. The tables were U-shaped which allowed the servants to serve food around the table more easily.

At the head of the table was placed the honoured guest and with the Jews, this was reserved for the rabbis. The other guests were seated around the table in descending order of importance. And on most occasions, the exact hour of the meal was never announced, so some guests came in earlier and others would come in later.

The Pharisees had this down to a tee, especially those who were in prominent positions. They would time their arrival so that they could make an unsuspicious entrance and in the presence of everyone else, they would receive the chief seats.

I think the scene in the build-up to the parable is very humorous. Jesus points out to the Pharisees and the experts in the Law the man with dropsy and tries to reason with them.

And so He asks them ‘is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not? Jesus was a master at silencing people without saying too much. He silenced them and went ahead and healed the guy.

“Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.” “When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable.” Luke 14:5-7

Jesus asked two questions and received no answers, He totally silenced the critics. I think this is an amusing scene because, at this particular feast, which Jesus attended, the Pharisees were scrutinising Jesus’ every move.

They were observing Him but at the same time, He was observing them. Jesus was watching them slyly manoeuvring around the table for the place of honour.

And it was after observing them, he told them a parable. Jesus is about to rebuke the Pharisees and the experts in the Law because of their bad table manners. But He is also going to point out to them that they’re in a seriously unsafe spiritual condition.

Now it’s not a parable, which tells a story, but it’s a parable in the sense that it’s to be interpreted figuratively. It’s a parable in the true sense of the word because it’s a comparison that teaches on right relationships in the kingdom of God.

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:8-11

Jesus is teaching them about humility, real humility. They were almost playing musical chairs or looking for the best seat in the house. And Jesus uses the phrase ‘who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted,’ over and over again in the New Testament.

For example in Matthew 23 when Jesus is speaking to the crowds and His disciples about the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees who were displaying false humility.

He tells them at the end of Matthew 23:3 “Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” And then down in Matthew 23:12, He says to them, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Again in Luke 18:9-13 when Jesus is teaching about self-righteousness and the two men who went up to the temple to pray. One guy said, “Look at me, look at all the good things I do.” And the tax collector said, “God have mercy on me a sinner.” And so Jesus goes on to say in Luke 18:14 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

And that teaching didn’t just stop when Jesus went back to heaven, this truth was carried on and taught to the early church. Paul taught it to the Philippian church in Philippians 2:3-4. James taught it to the church that was scattered in James 4:10. Peter taught it to the young men in the church in 1 Peter 5:5-6.

And this law stills stands true today as it did when Jesus first uttered those words. It stands against everything that the world teaches about becoming great. Jesus says if you want to go up in the His kingdom then you need to learn how to go down.

The principle of humility is obvious and clear but it isn’t always easy to find the path, which leads to true humility. How do we begin on that path? Where is the starting point of true humility?

Well, the place to begin is with yourself. But not so much in public places where many people can see how humble we are but away from the rush of things.

In quiet places of uninterrupted solitude, where a person needs to submit to the rigour of self-evaluation. Because when you think about it, there are many things that should keep us humble. For example, our physical and bodily weaknesses should keep us humble, Psalm 103:13-16.

A person can be an architect or an astronomer, they can be a soldier or a politician but no person is as mighty as they would like to be. There are paths that people can’t go, there are cliffs and mountains that they can’t scale, and there are galaxies they can’t subdue.

And because mankind lives their days amid suffering and tears, we don’t know how to ward off pain, we’re unable to defend ourselves against certain diseases.

We can’t disguise the inevitable marks of old age, even though some try plastic surgery. We can’t bride away death and when you think about it, death alone is sufficient enough to keep mankind humble.

And you know when you think about our bodies they can so quickly get out of balance. Our body systems can be easily disturbed and so quickly break down and sometimes without any notice. But all these things show us how insecure life really is. And when we dare to remember these things, selfish pride will soon vanish away.

Another thing, which should keep us humble, is our mental limitations. For centuries mankind has been accumulating facts and perfecting methods.

And if you gathered all the knowledge mankind has together and placed it into a storehouse, it would still be infinitely smaller compared to all the things mankind doesn’t know yet, Job 36:26-29.

Advancements in technology and scientific breakthroughs come painfully slow. And no one is more aware of this than the scholar, a real scholar in whatever field they specialise in is continually shamed by their ignorance.

Think about it! A man may be able to speak ten different languages but he may not know how to change a fuse in a plug.

A woman may be an international authority on the literacy classics but she may not be able to drive a car. An expert on machines, computers and technology may not be able to spell a simple three-syllable word correctly.

The simple truth is that life has grown to such proportions that no one is able to be a master of all the arts, no one is able to master all of the sciences. So the littleness of our knowledge ought to be enough to keep us humble.

Another example of what should keep us humble is our weaknesses and failures. Nowhere are our defects more obvious to us than in our moral conduct. Christians ought to be aware of their sin, the purest and noblest of Christians should always be conscious of their sin.

The apostle Paul was very much aware of his sin, Romans 7:21-24. In fact, he was so aware of his sin that every time he looked at someone else, he didn’t condemn them, he looked at himself, 1 Timothy 1:15.

An honest examination of ourselves will bring us face to face with ourselves. And when we see ourselves clearly we will come away from the mirror seeing just how small we really are.

And if you struggle to see yourself clearly then try praying this Psalm 139:23-24. How many of us would be willing right now to face God in Judgement on the terms of our own natural goodness and on the basis of the works, which we have done in His name?

The grand total of all our goodness and all our generosity and all our good deeds are shamefully small. This again above all things should make us conscious of our necessity for humility. When a person meets Jesus Christ and places his life next to Jesus’ life the marked difference brings guilt and grief.

On that last night, a quarrel broke out among Jesus’ disciples, Luke 22:24-27. We don’t know how their argument started but since Jesus gathered His group to eat the Passover, which was the most important Jewish observation, it’s quite likely that the strife was over the seating arrangements.

And what a sad picture this is, in Jesus’ last hours of His life, His own disciples, just like the Pharisees before, were scrambling over the seats of distinction.

And so Jesus put an end to the dispute by asking them in Luke 22:27 “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table?”

And according to John 13:ff Jesus washed their feet. And what did they do? They sat there dumbfounded, they sat there utterly disgraced, not believing that they could act so selfishly.

The people in Jesus’ day didn’t believe that a man who pushes himself would be lower. The people in Jesus’ day didn’t believe that a man who lowers himself would in the end be victorious.

If God was willing to come down to earth in the form of Jesus Christ and wash people’s feet then surely we should too, Mark 10:45. Jesus served, His disciples served, Acts 16:17, the early church served, then we should be serving too and Christian you must serve, Matthew 25:21 / Romans 12:6-7.

‘Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Luke 14:12-15

One of the greatest qualities, which dominated the life of Jesus, was His unselfishness. While He was eating dinner in the presence of the Pharisees, Jesus’ thoughts turned to the many people who hadn’t been invited, and so He spoke to His host in the plainest of terms.

Make no mistake about this, these were hard words, I would imagine the host staring at Jesus with anger and rage in his eyes. But that didn’t deter Jesus, He just stood His ground.

Have you ever been talking with someone about a subject that you just don’t want to talk about? When that happens to me I usually try to change the subject or say something that will make my thinking a little easier.

Well, that’s what happens next because from nowhere one of the other guests tries to break the spell and dismiss the question by saying “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” And so Jesus responds with a parable that compares His kingdom to a banquet furnished by God.

The Parable Of The Great Banquet

“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses.” Luke 14:16-18

Before we get into the parable we need to mention Matthew’s account. In Matthew 22:1-14 we find a similar parable by Jesus to the one we have just read.

And many people interpret them both as variations of one original story. However, when you read the backgrounds and the details of both parables you will find that they’re both very different.

The parable in Matthew’s account is in close succession with the parable of ‘The Tenants’ and sounds a warning note to the Jews who would reject their Messiah.

The parable in Luke’s account however isn’t as severe in tone, yet it stands as a warning to all men that they shouldn’t take the kingdom for granted. And so the two parables are independent of each other but the obvious similarities are due to their common origin, Jesus Christ.

Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a sumptuous banquet. It’s very significant that in most of this chapter, Jesus talks a lot about feasts and banquets. And so in this atmosphere, Jesus talks about entering the kingdom of heaven to that of coming to a feast.

Now I don’t know about you but I hate rumours, I hate them because they may have an element of truth about them but mostly they are extended lies about an event or a person. And so what started as a rumour, has now become a fact in some people’s eyes.

During the days of Jesus, there was a rumour that went around that the Jews believed as fact, even today many Jews still believe it as fact.

It was a common belief at that time that when the Messiah came, in the golden age of His reign, all of the Jews would be invited to sit at His table. And so with that in mind, Jesus uses this popular notion and taught that the kingdom is like a banquet.

It’s not a long dreary funeral procession, it’s a festive occasion of warm fellowship and unheard of delight. And remember that Jesus didn’t come to darken an already gloomy world, His mission was to bring good news. And I wish the world would recognise that Jesus’ message of good news has been distorted beyond the point of recognition.

Multitudes of people have come to believe that people can’t enjoy themselves and still be a Christian. And many people have misconceptions about Christianity because they have a distorted view of Jesus. Yes, Isaiah 53:3 indeed describes Him as a ‘Man of sorrows’ but this view has been magnified out of proportion.

A man named Publius Lentulus wrote a commentary on behalf of Pontius Pilate which incidentally was written some 3-4 hundred years later and in it he describes Jesus. Listen to the way he describes Him.

“In reproof and rebuke, He is formidable, in exhortation and teaching, gentle and amiable. He has never been seen to laugh, but oftentimes to weep, His person is tall and erect, His hands and limbs are beautiful and straight. In speaking He is deliberate and grave and little given to loquacity, in the beauty He surpasses the children of men.”

And this image of Jesus had a lasting effect on the art and sculpture of succeeding ages so that even today Jesus is seen as a man who never laughed. Is this what Jesus was like? If Jesus lived in a way to enjoy life, then surely His disciples should do the same.

We’re not expected in ‘Monk fashion’ to withdraw from the world and punish ourselves. We’re not expected to be like the Pharisees and bind ourselves with a code so strict that even toys for children are condemned as ‘works of the flesh.’

Jesus said, ‘His kingdom is one of Joy’. Not a joy of bodily depravity and sensual living but the joys that are spiritual and eternal. Now there are three excuses given but they can be divided into two classes.

The first two have to do with earthly possessions and the third concerns earthly ties. And we’re going to look at the excuses in more depth in a minute but let me first say this.

That word ‘Alike’ in Luke 14:18 is interesting because it doesn’t mean they couldn’t go or they simply said, ‘No thank you’. What basically means is that they simply ‘didn’t want to go’.

Firstly let’s look at the first two excuses, the earthly possessions.

“The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’” Luke 14:18-19

Now there is little difference between the two excuses. Both men are absorbed in their own interests, both men were so tied up in their business affairs that they had no time for anything else. They were saying, “they had too much to do, so they couldn’t come.”

How many times have we heard that excuse over the years? It’s like focusing on “self” is everything and the “life that is now” gets more attention. Their business is their Bible and making a living is their creed. They rarely seem to have time for other people and never have any time for God.

God knew that all of mankind would struggle with this and so what He did to help us take our minds away from our earthly possessions is institute what He calls the Lord’s Day.

It’s a special occasion and a special service of worship on the first day of every week. And Sundays are the days that He gives us a special call to put aside all of our concerns of the week and give attention to the concerns of God.

And as we meet every week with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we each encourage one another and each of us reflects upon the sacrifice of Christ, as we’re reminded again of the cost of sin, Matthew 4:4.

Some Christians don’t like Hebrews 10:25, is because it is a direct command from the Holy Spirit, through the Hebrew writer for us to continually come together. And the ones who don’t like this verse are those who are already in the habit of not meeting together.

People who don’t meet together could end up like Demas, 2 Timothy 4:10. It’s not so much a matter of commitment, it’s a matter of encouragement, James 5:5.

Let’s look at the second excuse, the earthly ties.

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’” Luke 14:20

Now this man’s excuse is a little more difficult to understand because of one of the beautiful Laws written in the Book of Deuteronomy.

Maybe the man was basing his excuse on this particular Law found in Deuteronomy 24:5, and maybe he felt that he had a perfectly good excuse. He placed the obligation of his family and his home first and he thought that everybody would understand.

But when you think about it, it’s a paradox that something as lovely and sweet as a home can stand between a man and his God, Genesis 2:24. But that doesn’t mean that he’s to leave his Father in heaven. When we think about our homes, they’re among our greatest blessings, but as we know many a blessing can turn into a disaster.

Because there are at least two ways in which we can use our homes wrongly.

1. Our home and our family ties can occupy the chief spot in our hearts, Luke 14:20 / Luke 14:26.

We’re going to look more at this in the moment but for now, let me say that Jesus commands an exclusive affection, He wants the whole heart.

2. Our homes can be used selfishly.

We can come home after a hard day at work and want to do nothing but relax and enjoy ourselves. Or we can spend much time and effort making our homes so liveable that we wrap ourselves up in luxury and shut others out. Regardless of how our homes are built, the windows should always look out for the needs of others.

This is the way the first-century church thought of their homes and it’s the way we should think about our homes, Romans 12:13 / Hebrews 13:2. Practising this remains one of the great glories of a Christian home.

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.” Luke 14:21-23

The flimsy excuses made the host angry, especially with those who He invited but didn’t want to come. So He sent His servant out into the city, He sent Him onto the streets, and the alleys. He wanted His house full, He sent Him out into what we would call the slums.

Now, what’s Jesus’ point here? The point is that Jesus was saying to the Jews that they had rejected the Messiah and they wouldn’t sit at the Messiah’s table.

He’s telling them that the lower classes of people, the publicans, sinners and even the heathens are going to take their place at the table, that’s what He’s telling them.

“I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” Luke 14:24

This is bad news for those who rejected His offer but great news for us. Isn’t that a wonderful truth of general application that God wants His house to be full?

He’s abundant in mercy and desires the salvation of all, Romans 5:17. Once His invitation is refused, He returns again and goes to others in order that some will feast at His banquet.

I mean this is a universal invitation to come and feast at the Lord’s Table, Matthew 28:19. The Gospel is for all, the love of God desires a multitude of guests.

What a sight it must have been! The cripples, the downcast, the poor with their heads bowed. The blind groping around for a place to sit, the lame leaning on their crutches.

And what we need to remember is that it was a happy group of people and a happy occasion. And I wish I could just leave the story on that happy note but I can’t because there are still the others, the ones who didn’t come in.

They had closed themselves out, they had sent different excuses, yet there was only one reason why they didn’t come. They loved things too much, they rejected a generous Host and they rejected His grace.

Imagine what it would be like! For some to be filled with the bread of life and for others to be dying of hunger! For some to have living water at their feet and for others to be dying of thirst! Matthew 5:6. Jesus’ invitation is open to you all, please don’t make an excuse to refuse your personal invite to feast at His table today.

The Cost Of Being A Disciple

“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. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-27

Many people pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ but their actions don’t back up their allegiance. I don’t know about you but I believe the mark of a great leader is to state very clearly the conditions that must be met by those who follow him.

You can’t join the army and just expect to do your own thing, you have to do what the commanding officer asks of you. You wouldn’t accept a job until you’ve had a job interview to find out exactly what the terms and conditions of your contract are and if you didn’t agree with the contract then you wouldn’t take the job.

Jesus was that type of a leader, He very clearly laid out the conditions that must be met by anyone who wants to follow Him. Great multitudes of people had been following Jesus and many people were excited about Him.

Some of them thought that as a Messiah He would drive out the Roman mass. Others in the crowd were fascinated with His strange teaching and His mighty works and many others were just curious.

But to this motley crowd of people who were turning the whole thing into a playful extravaganza. Jesus tells the crowd that if you want to follow me, then here are some terms and conditions.

1. Hate your father, mother, wife and kids and even your own life.

Before we get into the parable of ‘Counting the cost’ we need to look at what Jesus means, when He tells the crowd to hate their families and their lives.

We need to understand just what kind of hate Jesus is looking for from His followers. Did Jesus literally mean that we should hate our families and our own lives?

If you believe that He meant these words to be taken literally, then you come into some problems with some of Jesus’ other teachings. And we know that Jesus doesn’t contradict Himself, the problem usually lies in our understanding of what we’re reading.

Jesus didn’t seek to crush the tender relationships of human friendships and love. He taught His followers in Matthew 5:43-48 to “Love even their enemies.”

In Mark 7:9-13 He taught His followers to “Honour their parents”. On the cross, He committed the care of His mother to a trusted friend in John 19:26-27.

In Matthew 5:21-26 He spoke against anger and hatred of one’s brother and said that it was a kind of murder. Little children, He gathered in His arms and blessed in Mark 10:13-16.

His whole life and His teachings made it quite clear that people were to be loved. Jesus isn’t contradicting Himself, No! The way to understand what He means is in the word ‘hate’.

For example, it doesn’t mean that we’re to love our relatives with a diminished love, because this would be opposed to the heart and soul of Christianity, Ephesians 5:25 / 1 Peter 1:22.

We may indeed love the Lord too little, but we cannot love any human being too much. And we will never love the Lord more by loving our human friends less.

And so, what does Jesus mean when He says that “We are to hate our own life?” In what sense are we to hate ourselves, like we’re to hate our relatives and friends?

It’s an awareness of sin in our own lives and the lives of our friends and family. A Christian must hate whatever is in himself, which is low and biased, he must hate everything, which is greedy and selfish. Anything, which drags him away from Christ and robs him of his real self and true values.

A Christian ought to love his relatives and friends as they love themselves and hate them as he hates himself. In other words, whatever is in them, which is pure and right, he’s to love.

Whatever is in them, which is unclean and self-indulgent, he’s to hate. That’s why Jesus said that the second greatest commandment was to “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31.

Remember when Jesus was telling the disciples that the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected, and be killed and after three days He will be resurrected? The Bible says that Peter rebuked Jesus but then Jesus went on to rebuke him, Mark 8:32-33.

Now what’s the point? Well, the point is that even if a person’s friend comes to stand between him and his Lord, then a choice needs to be made. A choice between the natural affection of a friend or a devotion to their Saviour Jesus Christ.

And sadly that’s where many a Christian fall, where friends and family give us a choice sometimes daily. We’re faced with choices every day and the way to deal with those choices is to ask ourselves a simple question.

Which choice has in mind the things of God? And which choice has in mind the things of men?

Too many Christians choose wrongly, that’s why they have abandoned the faith and you never see them anymore. But the true followers of Christ will always be and must be ready to treat their dearest friends and family as enemies.

So that’s what Jesus means when He asks His followers to hate their families and friends. And it’s now that Jesus goes on to share some other conditions, which first must be met before you even think about becoming a follower of Christ.

Now, these parables should be very familiar to all of us because I know that most of us use these Scriptures a lot when we’re studying with people who are thinking about becoming Christians.

People need to be aware that there’s a cost involved in becoming a disciple of Christ. And Jesus is uncompromisingly honest, He’s going to spell it out, what’s required of everyone who wants to become a Christian.

And if you’re not a Christian today, then I beg of you to listen closely to Jesus’ words. And if you are a Christian this morning, then I suggest that you listen closely and reflect on the commitment that you made when you declared allegiance to Jesus Christ.

“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.’ “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? 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, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:28-33

Most recruiting officers don’t tell you everything at first. They usually keep back the difficult and dangerous things in order to enlist men into their service.

But with Jesus, He wanted no one to come to Him under any false illusions. People are going to face up to the task or not follow Him at all.

The first illustration Jesus uses is that of a man who wanted to build a tower. Now this tower was most likely a vineyard tower and as we know the tower was the main guard against anyone who might come in and strip the vineyard during harvest time.

He says, ‘think about it!’ If he began work on it but couldn’t finish it, then he would be the laughing stock of the whole town. And remember Jesus was a carpenter and I’m sure He would have seen this type of thing many times over in Nazareth.

The other illustration, which Jesus gives, is that of a king who is contemplating going to war. He too before he engages in any form of warfare calculates the odds and the risks involved.

Is he able to stand against twenty thousand men with his ten thousand? Are his soldiers well trained and eager for battle? Can he advantage himself with the element of surprise?

And basically, if he’s unprepared for battle, then he will send out a delegation and ask for peace. Jesus says listen, “if you desire to be His follower you must see beforehand the hard and painful struggle that awaits you.” He says, “you need to be ready to make the sacrifices required of you no matter the cost.”

Before anyone becomes a Christian, they need to ask themselves several questions.

1. Am I willing to deny myself?

When a person becomes a Christian and starts to walk the Christian life, it’s the end of self. Self-denial is the first condition of discipleship, Matthew 16:24.

Let me make it clear, Jesus doesn’t mean a temporary denial of self. He’s not talking about a time where everyone gives up the things they don’t usually like anyway.

He’s not talking about a sacrifice of certain pleasures for a week or two in order that some good cause might be supported. He’s talking about a denial, which involves the rest of your Christian life, to deny oneself means to no longer live to please self, Galatians 2:20 / Colossians 3:5-10.

That’s what every person needs to do who sincerely seeks Him. And let me tell you, this isn’t easy, there are some bitter pills for us to swallow.

Because as we know, when it comes to death, putting anything to death is never easy. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to put to death all the impurities, all the ungodliness, which lives in you to follow Christ?

C. S. Lewis once said, “The Christian way is different.”

Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work, I want you.” I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth or crown it, I want it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires, which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked, I want the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself, my own will will become yours.”

That’s what Christ requires of us all. To deny self is in every moment and in every way to say, ‘No’ to self and ‘Yes’ to Jesus.

2. Am I willing to abide by His teachings?

You see, along with this question should come to another question, do you believe in your mind that Jesus is who He claimed to be? Matthew 2:2 tells us He was born to be a king and in John 18:36 He told Pilate that He is a king.

He professed to be the Christ, the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament in Mark 14:61-62 and John 4:25-26. He said He was the world’s light in John 8:25-26 and He said that He could supply living water in John 4:10. He also said that He is the bread of life in John 6:35, the way, the truth and the life in John 14:6.

In short Jesus, Christ claimed to be the Saviour of the world. And in a world, which is so full of doubt, let me tell you these claims are true.

But the commitment to His claims means living by His teachings, John 8:31. It means continuing in the words of Jesus because this is a vital part of the cost that needs to be counted.

Jesus asks you today, ‘You say you want to follow me, but are you willing to do what I say?’ Are you willing to be guided solely by my teachings? Instead of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, are you prepared to turn the other cheek or go the second mile?

Will you love those who hate you? And when men persecute you, will you pray for them? Are you ready to exchange earthly treasures for heavenly treasures? Without any reservations or any strings attached, are you really willing to put My kingdom first?

These are some of the awesome questions that separate the multitudes. These are the questions that try the souls of men and women.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 14:34-35

Jesus says salt is good and metaphorically referred to His followers as ‘the salt of the earth’ in Matthew 5:13. What exactly does this mean? To fully comprehend the Messiah’s statement, we must be aware of some qualities that salt possesses.

1. Salt is a flavouring agent.

This is perhaps the most commonly recognised use of salt. Who hasn’t used salt to improve the taste of food that is otherwise bland?

2. Salt is a preserving agent.

Salt that is added to fresh meat will act as a preservative; it will help delay the decay process. The practice of salting meats has been used for years.

3. Salt increases thirst.

Many people like Chinese food, however, after consuming a lot of Chinese food, our bodies will crave fluids for the rest of the evening! The salt contained in Chinese food cheese noticeably increases our thirst.

4. Salt melts ice.

During the winter months, many people use various mixtures of salt to melt ice on roads, driveways, and sidewalks.

5. Salt irritates.

Have you ever been working outside under the hot sun and had sweat running into your eyes? It stings, doesn’t it? The salt contained in sweat is an irritant.

6. Salt has destructive power.

We know that certain portions of our roads, due to concrete damage, have been severely damaged by heavy salting over many winters. Salt is certainly powerful stuff.

Using a little bit, it will melt the ice, but using a lot can ruin an entire road! Too much salt will also harm or kill living things, such as grass, slugs, etc.

Admittedly, although we understand these attributes and usages of salt today, it is likely that the major thrust of Jesus’ point pertained to salt as a flavouring agent, note His use of the word ‘seasoned’ in the verse.

Anyone who is striving to follow Jesus will make the world a better place in much the same way that salt helps certain foods taste better.

For instance, in Acts 2:47 the disciples were described as ‘praising God and having favour with all the people.’ Without a doubt, they added something good to society.

It is possible for salt to lose its flavour. Normally this should not happen, but it will if the salt becomes contaminated with impurities, e.g., dirt. Jesus is issuing a warning here.

A disciple can lose the qualities that make them valuable before God as ‘salt’ if they aren’t careful to remain separate from harmful impurities like sin, 2 Corinthians 6:17.

If a Christian becomes contaminated with impurity, then they are ‘good for nothing’ in service to the Lord, at least not until they come back to Him and seek forgiveness on God’s terms. A Christian ought to be pure and kind in thoughts, deeds, and speech, Colossians 4:6.

Such a person will have a preserving effect on righteousness and godliness, as salt preserves food and helps prevent spoiling. They will endeavour, like salt, to remove, or melt, any hindrances that could cause others who are searching for Christ to stumble.

However, in the process, they, like salt, may irritate some people. Though this isn’t their purpose, when we live for God and stand up for His cause, some will undoubtedly be rubbed up the wrong way.

It is also true that followers of the Lord, like salt, have the potential to cause destruction if they come in contact with the wrong things, namely, sin. Christians should endeavour to destroy sin from their lives. They should be a force against evil.

Finally, a faithful disciple should also cause others to thirst for righteousness, Matthew 5:6, as salt itself causes physical thirst.

3. Am I willing to follow Him to the end?

Many people want to follow Jesus provided the way is easy and pleasant, but when the going gets hard and the road stretches long, they give it all up. The first parable we read presents this as a distinct possibility for every Christian.

Many a Christian starts with a spurt but never finishes the race, but Jesus knew that was going to happen anyway, didn’t He? Matthew 7:13-14.

Jesus never said that the Christian race was going to be a sprint, He said it’s going to be a marathon. The Christian journey lasts until the journey ends. You don’t become a Christian and then a couple of months or years later decide to count the cost again and give up.

Why? Why would that be a bad choice? It would be a bad choice the end will be worse, 2 Peter 2:21. Peter is talking about people who were Christians but after a few miles down the road gave it up. But they didn’t just give up Christ, they turned their backs on Christ.

That’s why you need to understand these words of Jesus before you become a Christian. And if you ever wondered why Jesus’ words seem so serious, it’s because following Him is a serious business.

In every department of life, it’s always better, to be honest with yourself and face the facts. Everyone who wants to achieve anything in life must be aware of the sacrifices that need to be made. God wants us to be aware of those sacrifices, even before we commit our lives to Him.

Please don’t get Jesus wrong here, He’s not trying to dampen people’s enthusiasm. He’s saying that the hard facts of the Christian life must be faced.

In John 16:33 He told His disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble.” But Jesus goes on to say in that verse, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

And Jesus isn’t saying that it’s better not to begin than to begin and fail with a flourish of trumpets, He’s not saying that. But what He’s saying is that it’s better not to begin, than to begin with a flourish of trumpets.

There’s no greater challenge for any of mankind that compares to the challenge of living the life of a Christian. There’s no challenge that exceeds the thrill of the Christian way of living.

Go To Luke 15

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