Scriptures

The Cost Of Following Jesus!

Introduction

Over the year I’ve seen many Christians fall away for a variety of reasons. Many churches in their eagerness to ‘make disciples’ have baptised people, without first sitting down with someone to explain what is involved in the becoming a Christian, and then the church wonder how people don’t stay faithful for very long!

I believe before anyone becomes a Christians there should be some element of teaching about what they are getting themselves into.

‘When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ Another disciple said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’ Matthew 8:18-22

Before Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee, a teacher of the Jewish law, came to Him. This scribe had probably not yet counted the cost of discipleship. While on earth, Jesus had no personal house or place to stay that He could call His own.

By referring to Himself as the Son of Man, He declared that He was the Messiah. Jesus was referring to Himself as the Messiah because the Jews used the term

‘Son of Man’

to refer to the Messiah. Jesus used this term a lot, and He used that term at least forty times.

One of Jesus’ disciples felt he still had responsibilities toward his father who was either dying or had just died. He was one of the group known as

‘wait a little’

Pharisees who always proposed something else to do first. I guess we would call this procrastination, the idea of putting things off until a later time.

Jesus used physical death in this context to refer to spiritual death. In other words,

‘Let the spiritually dead bury their own physically dead.’

Jesus knew that if this disciple returned home to his old ways, and his old standpoints and his old habits, he would never come back to follow Jesus.

On the surface Jesus’ words may seem a bit harsh or even unfair but Jesus had nothing but love for the man and the man’s eternal destiny in mind. Jesus was demanding total commitment on the part of the disciples to the work of the kingdom.

‘Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.’ Matthew 10:37

‘Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.’ Luke 9:23

Nothing must come between the disciples and the work to which God would commission them. The disciple’s destiny mustn’t be diverted.

‘As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the 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 a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’ Luke 9:57-62

1. Christians must be willing to sacrifice any permanent place of dwelling.

‘And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.’ Luke 2:7

‘But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.’ Philippians 3:20-21

At this time in the ministry of Jesus, commitment to follow Him was demanded. There were certainly others who were following Jesus other than the immediate twelve. Jesus taught that all must commit themselves to follow Him.

2. Christians must be willing to put Jesus before their social responsibilities and family relationships.

I know this is difficult for some people, but Jesus must always be first in our lives.

3. Christians must be willing to give their full attention on the work in Christ’s kingdom.

It was now a time to look forward and not back. Those who look back aren’t much use to Jesus in His kingdom. When a person looks back they are really questioning their faith in the One who is before them. When the kingdom reign of heaven is done on earth in the hearts of men, then kingdom business must always supersede that which is of this world.

‘So, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ Matthew 6:31-34

Christians can’t trust in God as they do kingdom work, whilst at the same time, look back in order to trust in the things of this world.

‘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

People were following Jesus to Jerusalem for various reasons. However, it was at this time in Jesus’ ministry that He was nearing Jerusalem and the cross. In these verses, we see Jesus sought to sift out of the multitudes those who were not willing to pay the cost of being a true disciple.

Again, these are hard words for those who aren’t willing to commit themselves totally to Him. The reality is that many will fail, but those who do succeed, will have a tremendous influence in the world with their lives.

1. We must be willing to love Christ more than anyone else. Luke 14:25.

Luke’s use of the word ‘hate’ means that we must love our family less than we loves Jesus.

‘Jacob had marital relations with Rachel as well. He loved Rachel more than Leah, so he worked for Laban for seven more years. When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to become pregnant while Rachel remained childless.’ Genesis 29:30-31

In order to be a disciple of Jesus, we cannot love our family and our own life more than we loves Jesus. If any situation develops in our life when we have to make a decision between following and serving Jesus or our own family, our eternal destiny would command that we follow Jesus.

‘Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’ Matthew 22:37-40

2. We must be willing to sacrifice our entire life. Luke 14:25.

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12:1-2

3. Building God’s kingdom. We must count the cost involved in becoming a Christian. Luke 14:28.

A lot of people find it difficult to become Christians simply because they aren’t willing to pay the price of discipleship. This is something, especially many preachers must accept and not get disheartened with.

Counting the cost of what it will take to be a disciple assumes that some may make the decision to turn away from the Gospel. Though Paul was a chosen vessel for God’s work, Jesus still showed him all things that he had to suffer in order to carry out his mission. The early disciples were shown what the cost of discipleship would be in their lives. They, as well as all disciples, must go through many sufferings in order to be saved.

‘Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.’ Revelation 2:10

Those who convert to Jesus, and then fall away, will be mocked by those who never wanted to become disciples in the first place. Luke 14:29-30.

‘If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.’ 2 Peter 2:20-22

4. Fighting in God’s kingdom. We must count the cost involved in becoming a Christian. Luke 14:31-32.

Before a king goes to war with the enemy he must first consider whether he has enough power to win the battle. Before one becomes a disciple, he must first consider whether he can win the battle.

‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.’ Ephesians 6:10-18

Jesus’ emphasis here is that one must seriously consider his call to discipleship. His emphasis is on the seriousness by which we must consider being a disciple of Jesus. Those who do not take their discipleship seriously will inevitably become indifferent and lukewarm. Their attitude of indifference and look-warmness will be as leaven, and thus, affect the entire group of disciples.

Jesus is the King who is coming against all those who have not obeyed the Gospel. He is coming with destruction, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9. If one would have peace with King Jesus at the time of His final coming, then he must sit down and consider Jesus’ conditions for peace. His conditions begin with obedience to the Gospel.

The rich young ruler who wanted to be a disciple of Jesus had to pay this price because his riches stood between him and commitment to Jesus, Mark 10:17-31. If one wants to be a disciple of Jesus, he must be willing to forsake all that is necessary in order to be such.

‘But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.’ Philippians 3:7-11

5. Material sacrifice. We must count the cost involved in becoming a Christian. Luke 14:33.

If someone isn’t willing to forsake all for Jesus, then that which they aren’t willing to forsake will eventually be their stumbling block over which they will fall as a Christian.

All these demands of Jesus were met with genuine excuses from different people who wanted to follow Jesus, but when push comes to shove, there was no excuse, it was people who simply failed to count the cost or simply found the cost involved too high a price.

I wonder what price people put on their souls today!

‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’ Mark 8:36-37

Why is it so important to share the costs involved with someone before they decide to become a Christian?

Being a Christian is serious business, it’s all about sacrifice and commitment to Christ and His kingdom. We don’t want people to say,

‘hey, I signed up to become a Christian, but I wasn’t aware of all this sacrifice stuff and commitment’!

But more importantly we don’t want any Christian to fall away simply because they didn’t have at least some understanding about what’s involved in living the Christian life.

What about those who say,

‘wow, that’s a lot of things, I’ve got to ‘give up’?’

Maybe we should focus a little more on what a person receives, in return for their sacrifice.

‘What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.’ Philippians 3:8

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"

Hebrews 13:5

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