Paying Full Price
As we get started this morning, I want to show you a picture of Mitchell Manning. Starting in January of this year he began a journey to carry a 12 foot, 150 pound cross from Florida to California. According to his Facebook page, he will reach the Pacific ocean sometime before Thanksgiving and then see if through the kindness of strangers they will help him get back home. Maybe you have seen Mitchell, of someone like him carrying a large wooden cross across the country. Actually according to what I can find through a google search Mitchell is one of approximately 50 people who are right now carrying crosses around the world, because God told them to.
In our text this morning, Jesus does say that in order to be His disciple we must take up our cross and follow Him. But apparently some folks have a little misconception about what He was saying. I don’t believe that the cross that Jesus carried had a wheel, or lights. For the first century listeners, the cross was not a symbol of forgiveness or salvation; it was a torture device. It was equivalent to our electric chair. It would be like Jesus telling us, if anyone is going to be His disciple we must take up our electric chair and follow Him.
If you were carrying a cross you were literally a dead man walking, somebody who was convicted, condemned, and on their way to death. You would carry your cross through town to be humiliated, spit on, and shamed. You would carry it to your place of crucifixion, they would strip you naked or nearly naked, they would nail you to the cross. As you hung there, folks would gather to make fun of you. Your mother would bawl her eyes out while your blood, sweat, and tears pooled up beneath you. Jesus says, if you desire to be my disciple then this is what I’m asking you to commit to.
In our text this morning, Jesus is pretty clear that He’s not trying to convince you that being a disciple is easy. Jesus isn’t like a salesman who gets you to commit to all the benefits and conveniently overlooks all the fine print. He shows up and says, I’m God. If you want to follow me, people are gonna hate you and you might die. That’s the cost of discipleship, and there is no coupon or discount rack or clearance aisle. If you are going to follow Me you will have to pay full price.
I read about a mission organization that when they send folks out to do mission work, they have them pack all of their belongings in a coffin as a visible reminder that they are going off to die. They are going to give their entire life talking about, and being Jesus to folks who are loved by God.
Since I read that, I have wondered if that might be a good reminder for us as well. The truth is that one day you’re going to die and I’m going to die. When I turned 40, that clock in my head started getting louder and louder. I know that one day I am going to leave this world and go home; the last thing I want to do is waste my life on things that don’t matter. Let me encourage you this morning to make your life count. Don’t give up on the opportunity God sets before you. Live your life in such a way that your children and your grandchildren have someone worth following. Wasting you life is far worse than dying.
Jesus wants you to know that while salvation will cost you nothing; discipleship will cost you everything. Salvation occurs in a moment. Discipleship takes a lifetime. Salvation is something that God does for you. Discipleship is something you do with God. I don’t ever want to be guilty of teaching that our relationship with God is merely a one time decision when Jesus teaches that it is a lifetime of decisions. Eventually we all face difficult times in this life where life get’s hard. If we are expecting gumdrops and lollipops then we quickly become disillusioned with Jesus rather than devoted to Him.
In Luke 14:25–35 we read some of the strongest language in all of Christ’s ministry. He is brutally honest about what it means to be His disciple. Jesus came to preach the good news and He has quite a huge following. This is another instance where Jesus reminds us He is not interested in the crowd, He is interested in the individual. His comments are pointed, clear, and personal. His message is about God and Godliness. If you are going to be His disciple, you must be willing to pay full price.
Before you make a claim to live the life of discipleship you must look inside yourself and ask if you are in this for the long haul. If you want to be a disciple you have to see this to the end. This is a difficult question because we live in a world filled with quitters. If it gets hard, quit. If it costs you something, quit. People quit on God, they quit on their marriages, they quit on their children. We live among people that are constantly looking for the path of least resistance. While the truth is that everything that matters and has worth is hard. Everything that has worth is costly. Everything that matters will hurt.
The text Trafton read for us this morning was from Luke 14:25–27. In this text Jesus wants to know who has first priority in your life. Jesus said, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.’”
No one teaches about love or demonstrates love as much as Jesus. So when you see the word hate, when you hear Jesus say we must hate our mother, our father, our brothers, our sisters, our own children, and our own life I hope that grabs you attention. I hope you immediately begin to wonder, what in the world is Jesus talking about?
The word that Jesus used here is μισ?ω (mi-sa-o) and it means hate. It’s the same word that Jesus used in Matthew 5:43, You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ I don’t want to soften His word, but it helps me to remember that just like love doesn’t always mean adoration, hate doesn’t always mean detest .
Let me unwrap that a bit; I love Trista and I love pecan pie with chocolate chips, just not in the same way. No one here would suggest that I have the same feelings for Trista that I do for for pecan pie, or LSU, or Central, or even the boys. Hate is the same way; according to Darrell Bock: The call to hate simply means to love less. The image is strong, but it is not a call to be insensitive or to leave all feeling behind. Following Jesus is to be the disciple’s first love. This pursuit of Christ is to have priority over family members and our own life, which means that other concerns are to take second place to following Jesus.
Compared to our love for Christ, our love for everyone else should seem like hate in comparison. Our spouse’s and children’s desires don’t come first; Jesus’ comes first. Jesus is not having a discussion about emotions, He is talking about your level of commitment. In Jesus time they didn’t have words of platitude; for instance there was no word for liking someone. You had two choices, love or hate. We love by putting Jesus first, and everyone else is a very distant second.
Jesus says that a disciple is to hate “even his own life.” The commitment to follow Jesus must be greater than any other commitment in our lives. Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer once affirmed: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him to come and die.” When we accept Jesus’ offer to become His disciple, we are agreeing to hate our own life and put to death our independence and agenda.
In Alabama we don’t face the same persecution that our brothers and sisters face around the world. In some countries your decision to be a disciple of Jesus is social suicide. In certain Muslim countries as soon as you choose Jesus, the family has a funeral and considers you dead. In other Muslim countries they actually kill you, and call it an honor killing.
While that is not a fear in the states, there are folks here today that are married, or are dating, or have friends or family that make being a disciple difficult for you. They constantly ask you, Do you have to go to church? Do you have to read your Bible? Do you have to pray? I have a friend who told me that her husband gave her an ultimatum, He told her she had to choose between church or her marriage. It happens; we need to ask ourselves who have I chosen over Jesus? Because there is no short cut to being a disciple. It’s a decision that will cost you a life time; remember that salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you everything.
The second question we have to ask is, Are you willing to pay the full price? Luke 14:28–33,‘For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Back in 1990 our country entered into the Gulf War. As a result of conflict, there were a lot of folks who had a difficult decision to make. You see they had signed up for the G.I. Bill so that they could get money for college. After they signed up they got their uniform, and their gun. They went through basic training and gave their one weekend a month. Then war broke out and they were called up. They had no intention of going to war, and there were reports of folks fleeing to Canada. They wanted the benefits, and the uniform but they had no intention of going to war.
Jesus is clear, He doesn’t want a percentage of your time, a percentage of your money, a percentage of your devotion. He wants all of you all the time. The Jews prayed the Shema every day; they promised to Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. Jesus is asking the very same thing of His disciples.
The root word for “disciple” is the same root for “discipline.” A disciple is disciplined. I don’t want to meddle to much in your business but do you even remember your New Years resolution? Because the gym is pretty empty now a days. Getting married is easy. Fifty years is hard. Having babies is fun, but raising them is hard work. Getting baptized is easy, living for Jesus is hard. That’s just the way life is down on this broken planet. And Jesus doesn’t lie to us and say, come to Me and it’ll be easy.
A disciple can say, my life was pretty hard and I met Jesus. It’s gotten a lot worse, but He’s worth it and one day I’ll be with Him. That’s our testimony. Jesus doesn’t fix everything. Jesus just makes the suffering and the pain and the hardship and the sacrifice meaningful. We have a real enemy, there’s a real war, there’s real conflict, there are real casualties, and there are real quitters.
History tells us that 1519, Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico on the shores of the Yucatan. He had sailed from Spain with 11 ships, 100 sailors, and 500 soldiers to defeat the Aztecs and take their treasure. Cortez was an excellent motivator who demanded complete and total commitment. When Cortez and his men arrived on the shores of the Yucatan he rallied the men for one final pep talk before leading them into battle. During that pep talk he utters these three words that changed the course of history. Burn the Ships!
At first the men resisted, but Cortez said these three words one more time, Burn the Ships! He told the men if we are going home, we are going home in their ships. With those three words Cortez and his men’s commitment level was raised to a whole new level.
That’s what Jesus tells us to do at our baptisms, we have burn the ships in our own lives. Being a disciple is where we lay everything on the alter. In verse 33 Jesus says, In the same way, you must give up everything you have. If you don't, you can't be my disciple. Everything is a pretty inclusive word.
That means we must cut off some relationships if they keep us from Christ.
We must get rid of some possessions if they become more important than our desire for Christ.
We must stop some hobbies if our devotion to them becomes greater than our devotion to Christ.
We may need to turn down overtime when it interrupts our ability to invest in Christ.
And we need to quit lying to ourselves that we somehow need more money, or that God wants us to be happy, or that we are making an impact in their lives.
God wants us to be faithful, and realize that our reward is not here, but when we get home. A Christian must burn their ship because the default mode of the human heart is selfishness, laziness, and the desire to quit.
Putting Jesus first means that we need to change the default mode of our hearts. We need to forgive, not because someone earned it or deserved it, but because that’s what Jesus does.
We need to to show compassion to the homeless, invisible people, and hurting not because they have earned it or deserved it, but because that’s what Jesus does.
We need to realize that people are more important that things. People matter more that cars, or TV’s, or building’s, or your reputation not because they earned it or deserved it, but because that’s what Jesus does.
We need to give our time, treasure, and talent freely to the ministry of God’s kingdom because we understand that it all belongs to Him anyway.
The question we need ask ourselves is not am I able to follow Jesus completely? But am I willing to follow Jesus completely? We are all human and sometimes we will fail in our commitment but the thing Jesus is confronting here is not our ability but our willingness to follow Him with our whole hearts.
This morning what type of difference does your life make? Who are you serving? What are you giving? Where are you pouring yourself out? What kind of legacy will you leave? When this life is over, the only thing that will matter is how you lived your life. Nowhere does it say get wet in a baptistry and then wait until you die to go to heaven. We are told to accept God’s gracious and spend the rest of our lives being a disciple. This morning Jesus Christ is calling you to come and die.
Please stand as we read together Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and Romans 12:1-2