The following is a summary of the sermon I preached at the Cornerstone on Sunday, May 7, 2017:
Part 5 of The Case for Christ. Luke 14:25-35
The Cornerstone Church. May 7, 2017
Jesus was popular. He attracted huge crowds of people. One time, he tried to get away to be alone, but people found him in a remote spot. It was so far into the boonies that Jesus had to feed about 5000 men plus women and children (see Luke 9:10-17) But Jesus wasn’t impressed by crowds. He loved people, but he knew their hearts (John 2:23-25). They were the curious crowd, not the committed core.
Here in Luke 14, Jesus teaches the crowd what it takes to be his disciple. “Disciple” is the central theme:
Verse 26: My disciple.
Verse 27: My disciple.
Verse 33: My disciples.
In these verses, Jesus talked about what a disciple was NOT because only genuine disciples - “MY” disciples - inherit the Kingdom; that is, receive eternal life, or salvation, or feast at the banquet in the Kingdom (Luke 13:29).
There are many false ideas about what a disciple is. In other passages, we read how Jesus dispelled the false notions. For example, Jesus taught that:
Spirituality does not make us a disciple: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” - Matthew 7:13-14
Serving does not make us a disciple: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” - Matthew 7:21-23
Starting out with Jesus does not make us a disciple: 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. - Matthew 13:20-22
So, how can we know we are genuine disciples? Is our faith real? The teaching in Luke 14 gives us the answer:
A. A DISCIPLE SURRENDERS ALL TO JESUS - verses 26-27, 33
A genuine disciple surrenders:
1. Her family to Jesus - verse 26.
“Hate” in this context was a Jewish slang expression. It does not mean to have an emotional hatred. Instead, it means to make a distinction; to choose between two people; to decide who gets priority. When God chose who would inherit the covenant promises, he chose Jacob over Esau. He said, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” He didn’t hate him; but he gave priority to Jacob (see Malachi 1:2; Romans 9:13). Jesus was saying: if it comes to a choice between pleasing family or pleasing me, choose me.
2. Her future to Jesus - verse 27.
Carrying a cross is a picture of martyrdom. It means that if it comes to a choice between obeying Jesus or obeying a persecutor, we follow Jesus even to death. When the government told him to stop preaching, Paul would not surrender to Rome. He surrendered his future to Jesus and faced the wrath of Rome on trial:
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain … 23 … I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;” - Philippians 1:20-21, 23
3. Her finances to Jesus - verse 33.
Actually, it’s more than just our money: “those of you who do not give up “EVERYTHING” you cannot be my disciples” - verse 33. The original disciple - Peter - knew this: “Peter said to Jesus, “We have left all we had to follow you!” - Luke 18:28
Jesus taught that discipleship is living all out for Jesus. Nothing but Jesus. Total surrender.
Does that sound a bit over the top? Look what Jesus said next …
B. A DISCIPLE TAKES TIME FOR SOBER REFLECTION - verses 28-32, 34-35
Jesus does not want us to dive into discipleship. He wants us to think about it first. He taught three little parables to emphasize the need for sober reflection:
The parable of the tower - 28-30. Meaning: Think carefully about the COST. Is Jesus is worth more than family, future, finances?
The parable of the king - 31-32. Meaning: Think carefully about the CONFLICTS. Is following Jesus worth the opposition, misunderstandings, prejudice, or persecution?
The parable of the salt - verse 33. Meaning: Think carefully about the CONSTANT demands of discipleship. Are you ready for a lifetime commitment? Faith is not once and done.
Discipleship should not be a spur of the moment or emotional decision. Make sure you’re fully informed. Understand the impact. Temporary commitments are tragic and way too common. For example, Demas the missionary companion of Paul gave up and walked away:
“Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.” - 2 Timothy 4:10. John Piper comments: “Maybe Demas feared being executed with Paul and fled to safety. Or maybe he succumbed to immorality. Or maybe he simply caved in to the relentless temptation of a more comfortable, prosperous life …”
Jesus wants followers who know what they are getting into so that when they get into it - conflict or persecution or disappointment - they will not get out of it by walking away from Jesus.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” - James 1:12
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” - Matthew 24:9-13
This passage is crucial. But, many of us either ignore or misunderstand it. One way we get around its implications is to re-interpret it. For example, some will say that Jesus was asking for a second level of commitment after we become a disciple. First, we are saved by agreeing to some facts about Jesus and praying a prayer of faith. Then, once we’re saved, we might decide to be a consecrated kind of disciple - a sort of super-Christian.
Sounds familiar, right? But that is not what Jesus was teaching here. There is only one way to come to Jesus for salvation (verse 26) and only one way to be a genuine disciple (my disciple - verses 26-27, 33) and only one level of discipleship: surrender everything to Christ.
This is the whole point of the passage: faith is surrender - costly and committed.
"When Boko Haram terrorists ordered Habila Adamu and his family out of their home in northern Nigeria, they told Habila to recite the Islamic creed, leave Christianity behind and become a Muslim. “I am a Christian — and will always remain a Christian — even to death,” Habila replied. The Boko Haram terrorists looked at his wife and asked why her husband was so stubborn. Then they shot Habila in the face and left him for dead. But miraculously he survived. When he shares his amazing testimony today, he also shares that he’s forgiven the men who shot him, leaving him permanently disfigured. “We are all condemned criminals,” he says. “Jesus died for us. He loves us. That’s why we must show that love to the people who hate us.”" (Voice of the Martyrs email, May 4, 2017)
Jesus is worth it! It is worth losing everything we have to find Jesus and the Kingdom life he offers.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. - Matthew 13:44-46
Jesus finished his teaching this way: “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Listen to Jesus. Your eternity depends on his words.
Want more? Read the book by Steven Lawson - The Cost.