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Home arrow Daniel arrow Luke 14:25-35: Counting the Cost
Luke 14:25-35: Counting the Cost Print E-mail
Sunday, 21 July 2013

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Jesus is always challenging our expectations.  We have seen that in the Gospel of Luke.  Whether it’s Him calling a tax-collector to be His disciple or His willingness to eat with His enemies, He is always doing things that we did not expect.  Another way we see this is in how He handles a crowd.  In Luke 6 we saw Him preach the sermon on the plain to the large crowds that had gathered to hear Him.  He told them how the poor and the hungry and those who weep would be blessed.  He pronounced woes on the rich and well-fed and those who laugh.  He told them to love their enemies and not be judgmental.  He taught them to bear good fruit and to build their house upon the rock.  It was not the message we might expect.

He does this again in our text this morning.  Luke notes that great crowds were continuing to follow Christ.  Look at verse 25.  Once again Jesus is surrounded by many people.  They are there for various reasons: some for healing, some for signs, some for teaching, some still waiting for Him to target Rome.  For whatever reason, they have decided to keep following after Christ.  So how will Jesus address such a large crowd?  What will He say to them?  Not what we might expect.  Jesus is aware that many are there for the wrong reasons.  They are not ready to commit their lives to Christ just yet.  They want to see more miracles and hear more teaching.  Maybe they just want to keep hanging out with the crowd.  Because the crowd is mixed with those who truly want to follow Him and those who are there for other reasons, Jesus decides to make plain what it means to truly follow Him.  He wants the crowd to count the cost.  He does this by giving a principle, a command, and even an alternative.  Let’s look at these together.

The Principle: You must renounce all to follow Christ (v. 26-27, 33)

What will it cost a person to follow Christ?  Jesus tells us in verses 26-27.  Look at those with me.  First, Jesus tells us that if we are going to follow Him we must hate our family.  Surely that can’t be right.  Why would Jesus tell us to do that?  Some think that Jesus is just being rude and acting like a dictator.  Yet, we know from the rest of Luke’s Gospel, and the rest of the New Testament, that such an interpretation will not do.  Jesus commands us to love others, even our enemies, so surely He expects us to love our own family.  Others go in the opposite direction. They suggest that instead of saying ‘hate’ the text should be translated ‘love less’.  Yet, the text actually says ‘hate.’  The word could be translated ‘hate, despise, disregard, be indifferent to,’ but not really ‘love less.’ 

So what do we do with this?  I think we need to avoid both extremes.  Jesus is using comparison language.  Our love for Him should be so great that our love for others could even be called ‘hate.’  The point that He is making is that nothing can come between us and Christ.  He must have first place in our hearts and lives.  If our family comes before Him, then we cannot be His disciple.  There are those in the world who would have to completely forsake their family to follow Christ.  And we must be careful as well.  Family, a good thing, like any other good thing, can become an idol that keeps us from worshiping Christ.  Jesus warns us that letting even a good thing between us and Him will prevent us from following faithfully.

Second, Jesus tells us that we need to hate our own lives and take up crosses.  Again, Jesus is telling us that our devotion must be complete.  Jesus cannot be just another part of your life.  He cannot even be the most important part of your life.  Jesus must be greater than your life.  Your devotion to following Him and making Him known to others must be greater than your devotion to self-preservation and self-exaltation.  You cannot live for yourself, your own comforts, your own pleasures, your own dreams, and also live for Jesus.  You must take up your cross, die to yourself daily, and follow hard after Him. 

Jesus sums up the principle in verse 33.  Look at that with me.  We must renounce all that we have if we are going to follow Jesus.  We must be willing to give our all or we cannot be His disciple.  These are strong words that He repeats three times in this passage (v. 26, 27, 33).  The crowds may have thought it was easy to be a follower of Christ.  Many in our day make the same mistake.  They assume that they can give their 10%, make it to Church every now and then, try not to be too bad, and consider themselves true followers of Christ.  But Jesus wants us to know the true cost of being His disciple.  He doesn’t just want 10%, or even 50%, it is 100% or nothing at all.  Everything belongs to Him: money, resources, relationships, time, everything.  We must know this true cost so that we can obey His command, which is what we see next.

The Command: You must count the cost (v. 28-32)

Jesus gives us the principle that we must renounce all to follow Him so that we can think carefully about whether or not we truly want to do that.  He uses two illustrations to highlight the importance of counting the cost.

First, He uses the illustration of building a tower.  Look at verses 28-30.  When a person begins a construction project, it is wise for them to set down and count the cost before they start.  Otherwise, they may not be able to complete what they are building.  Have you ever seen a partially finished building or house?  Right now we are working on getting the old part of the Church painted.  What if we ran out of money at this point?  What if we left it half-painted and half-unpainted?  It would look terrible and it would be obvious that we did not count the cost before we began.  Or have you ever been to see a financial planner?  They sit you down, ask you were you want to be in 5 years or 15 years or when you retire.  When you answer, they start looking at what you make and your expenses and the rest of your ‘profile’ to determine what you will need to do to reach those goals (how many meals you need to miss, how many organs you need to sell, stuff that like).  When they finish, you have a decision to make: ‘Will I follow this plan?  Will I do what they have told me to do to reach those future financial goals?’  Jesus is telling us here that we need to do the same thing with being His disciple.  He does not want us to start following Him half-heartedly only to forsake the path when things get hard.  He gives us all the necessary information so that we can make a true and right decision.

The second illustration involves a king going to war.  Look at verses 31-32.  I have never had to make a decision about war, but I understand what Jesus is saying.  If there is no way you can win the war with the army you have, then it makes sense to ask for peace before the your whole army is destroyed in a fruitless campaign.  The king must consider the possible outcomes and make a wise decision, even if that means humbling himself and asking for peace.  Some see this illustration as just another way of teaching us to count the cost, which it is to some degree.  Yet, Jesus perhaps meant it to teach us to count the cost in a different way than the illustration of building the tower.  In the first story, we are told to not accept being a disciple of Jesus lightly.  We need to count the cost of following Him.  In the story of the king, we are perhaps being told not to reject Jesus lightly.  Since we will not be able to justify ourselves before God, we need to humble ourselves and believe in Jesus for salvation.  If we reject, we will be defeated.

Thus, both of these illustrations are teaching us the importance of counting the cost of following or not following Jesus.  We cannot afford to miss the weight of either of these options.  One will cost us everything is this life, the other will cost us everything in the next.  We need to count the cost and settle in our hearts and minds that we are going to be faithful disciples of Jesus.

The Alternative: You must avoid becoming unsalty (v. 34-35)

What if we do not count the cost?  What if we just put all this weighty stuff out of our minds?  What if we just keep on cruising through life, paying honor to God and Jesus at times, but never really getting that serious?  Jesus tells us what happens in those instances.  Look at verses 34-35.  Salt is good only if it maintains its saltiness.  In Jesus’ day, the salt that they used was mixed with other materials and could eventually become unsalty.  Once that happened it was worthless.  It could not be used to flavor food or preserve meat or even tossed on the manure pile.

Once again, Jesus is giving us a sober warning about taking discipleship too lightly.  We simply play around with religious things.  Perhaps that is you this morning.  Maybe you just want to keep Jesus close enough to feel good about hopefully going to Heaven.  You are thankful He came and died on a cross.  You believe that He was really raised from the dead.  You want to occasionally do some good things in His name.  But you are not ready to sell-out.  You are not ready to give Him your relationships and your money and your time.  You know you should get around to that at some point, but you are just not ready to that yet.  If that is you, then you need to consider what Jesus is teaching.  If you continue on that path then you will lose your saltiness.  If you keep playing games with Jesus, then you are going to lose in the end.  If you will not renounce all and follow Him, then you cannot be His disciple.

This passage makes me appreciate my Savior even more for two reasons.  First, I am thankful that He does not try to trick us into being His disciple.  Jesus does not promise us comfort and ease in this life.  He is straight-forward with us from the beginning.  He tells us what the cost will be and commands us to count it before following Him.  We should do the same thing when we share the gospel with others.  We do not need to try and trick people into the Kingdom.  We don’t need to make them false promises of ease and comfort.  We need to be open and honest about the cost of following Christ and the cost of rejecting Him as well.  Jesus has been honest with us and we need to do the same.

Second, I am thankful that Jesus does not ask us to do something that He was not willing to do.  He gave up everything to put on flesh.  He left His Father’s side to come down here with us.  And when He was hung on that cruel cross, He was forsaken by all, even His own Father.  Yet, the author of Hebrews tells us that He did it with joy (12:1-2).  How could He have joy in that?  Because He had counted the cost of redeeming a people for the glory of the Father and He was glad to pay.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!  Like Him, may we count the cost of being His disciple and pay it gladly.  Amen. 

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 August 2013 )

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