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LUKE 14:25-35

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
December 26, 2004

Please turn with me to Luke 14:25-35.

Luke 14:25 begins: 
Now large crowds were going along with Him - with Jesus.

When Jesus was teaching and ministering to the people - there were crowds that followed Him around -
“Jesus groupies”  An entourage  of people - who “were going along with Him” for whatever they could get for themselves.

As Christians, there’s a danger that we face - a temptation to serve in the church - to participate in ministries - to come to Sunday services - for what benefits us - what satisfies our wants - what’s convenient.  To be so focused on God’s love for us - Jesus being born for us - that we forget that all this is about God and what He wills - not us.  Focused on ourselves - ultimately we may miss the opportunities God gives us to be blessed and to participate in the awesomeness of what He’s doing.

This being the last Sunday of 2004 - thinking about what God may desire for us 2005 - as a congregation - as individuals - today is good opportunity to ask: 
“If we’re going to move forward in our lives - individually in our relationship with God - and ministry - together as a congregation - what does it mean to follow after Jesus - to be led by Him?”

The answer to that question goes much deeper than just following along with the crowd.  The answer lies in our willingness to be a disciple of Jesus.

In Luke 9:22-24 Jesus says this: 
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day….If anyone wishes to come after Me - follow Me - he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”  

There’s a difference between being a follower and a disciple - following along with the crowd versus giving up everything to become like the Master.  Many follow.  Few are disciples.  Discipleship goes deeper.  Challenges our commitment to Jesus more fully.

In Luke 14:25-35 there are three challenges for us - our discipleship - three challenges that I’d like to share to help us go deeper - to open ourselves up more fully to what God has for us in 2005.

The first challenge comes is here in verse 26 - Luk2 14:26:  Jesus -
He turned and said to them - this crowd of followers - “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.”

To be a disciple of Jesus means hating our families and ourselves
.  That needs explanation.

“To hate” is the Greek word “miseo” - which has the idea of comparing two things and making a choice - which one to love - which one to hate - or more accurately - which one love and which one to love less.

Imagine the family of that day.  Generations living together - respecting each other - working together - side-by-side - at the things of life in a well organized pattern or responsibilities and expectations - managing the household - working the family business.  A pattern that hadn’t changed for generations.  Outside the safety of the family was a hostile - dangerous - deadly world.  To betray the family was sacrilege - unheard of - dangerous - a disaster.  To go against the family - its will - its structure - to leave it - was a tremendous wrong.

Jesus was going from town to town in the Galilean countryside - teaching.  In one town His mother and brothers came to get Him.  Why?  We don’t know.  Bottom line - for some reason they were concerned about Him and wanted Him to come home with them.

The crowd was large.  They couldn’t get to Jesus.  So the word was passed through the crowd to Jesus,
“Jesus, Your mommy’s here.  Your brothers are outside.  Stop what you’re doing.  Go with your family.”

Jesus answers,
“My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”  (Luke 8:16-21)

That sounds harsh.  Doesn’t it?  

Yet, this is the same Jesus - when He was hanging on the cross - imagine the pain and what Jesus was dealing with at the time - hanging there with all our sins coming upon Him.  On the cross - Jesus so deeply cared for His mother - that He took time out from dying and gave His mother to John - told them to go with each other - so that she’d have someone to care for her - to look after her when He was gone.  (John 19:25-27) 

“To be my disciple you need to hate your family.” 
That’s not hate - as we think of hate.  That’s a choice.  Doing the will of God comes first.  Preference - not hate.

“To be My disciple You need to hate yourself.” 
Again preference - a choice of priority - not hate.

Don’t we all struggle with this?  Self will vs. God’s will?

Once - when Jesus was heading to Jerusalem He was confronted by three men.  The first man tells Jesus,
“I’ll follow You wherever you go.”  Jesus tells him that to follow means never having a home.

Can you imagine that today in the United States - where so many Christians are focused on upward moving property values? 
“I’ll follow you as long as it doesn’t too severely impact my lifestyle.”

The next two men put conditions on following Jesus. 
“First, I need to go bury my father.”  “First, I need to say goodbye to my family.”  Jesus said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

Ever try to plow looking backwards?  Or drive only using the rear-view mirror?  Following ourselves - what we want for ourselves - isn’t discipleship.  It’s a disaster. 

Jesus shows us the example - in the extreme - in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In prayer.  Blood coming from His pores like sweat.  Knowing what’s to come.  The choice - self-will vs. God’s will.  Remember the words?  Say them with me. 
“Yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  (Luke 22:42) 

That’s discipleship.  Being Jesus’ disciple comes first.  Doing what He wills - that’s the priority.  Compare the two - self vs. God.  God wins - always.

Can we say of ourselves today?

God didn’t call us to emptiness and uselessness and a life of following after worthless trivial pursuits.  He called us to know Him more deeply - to serve Him - to lose ourselves in Him - to allow Him to mold us and move us and use us - to do what is beyond what is in our wildest imaginations.  To bring glory to the King of Kings - God of all creation.  All that begins when choose to give God the control of our lives.

Try this with me - if you mean it. 
“I choose God’s will - not mine.”

The second challenge for us begins in verse 27. 
Verse 27:  “anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

To be a disciple of Jesus means carrying our cross

The cross - for Jesus - stood for shame - humiliation - degradation.  He was hung on a criminal’s cross.  On the cross Jesus was demeaned and debased.

The cross we carry isn’t just inconvenience or hardship - something we have to “endure” because we’re Christians - its not a difficulty or a trial.
  Instead of being at church we could be with family or watching football or on a trip someplace.  We could use our tithe money and get that plasma TV. 

The cross is symbolic of what reduces us to humility - offends our pride - shames us -
exposing the sin in our lives - until were totally surrendered to God.

Paul describes this in Galatians 2:20.  He writes,
“Ive been crucified with Christ; its no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

Hear this:  “Carrying our cross” is the day-to-day living of the Christian life as God allows us to live it for Him
- a painful process of daily living - before others - in deepening openness to God.

Jesus gives two illustrations of
what He means by this.

Verse 28: 
For which of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”

Many people look at these verses and think about what?  Building projects and budgets and giving estimates. 
A wise builder should calculate the financial cost of his project before he begins to build - to make sure he has the resources necessary to complete the project.

But, the point here is not about “cost” - the financial bottom line.  The point here is about commitment - carrying our cross.  Jesus’ point can be expressed in a question,
“Are you committed to finishing what you start - to see the commitment you make through to the end?” 

Too many Christians have started out following Jesus and failed to finish as His disciples.  They’ve fallen into moral failure - spiritual apostasy - heresy.  They’ve brought ridicule upon themselves - and Jesus - His church - and the Gospel.

was killed with a sword in Persia.  Mark died in Alexandria - after being bound and dragged through the streets.  John was put in a caldron of boiling oil - miraculously escaped death and was exiled to Patmos.  Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.  James - The Greater - was beheaded at Jerusalem.  James - The Less - was beaten and stoned to death by a mob.  Bartholomew was flayed alive - in Armenia.  Andrew hung on a cross for three days while he preached the Gospel to his persecutors.  Thomas was run through with a spear.  Jude was shot to death with arrows.  Matthais was first stoned - then beheaded.  Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.  Paul - after various tortures and persecutions - was finally beheaded in Rome by the Emperor Nero.

Ray Stedman - in his sermon “The Way of the Cross” shares this perspective...

“Imagine the scene when the Apostle Paul appeared before Nero, the Roman emperor, to give answer to the charges against him...imagine the emperor, in his royal robes, seated upon a throne.  His name was known throughout the empire.  But few knew of Paul.  Here was this obscure little Jew, bald-headed, big-nosed, bandy-legged, totally unimpressive in his physical appearance - he says so himself in his letters.  And he was a leader of an obscure, heretical little sect that was known only as troublemakers.  Few had heard of Paul, while everybody had heard of Nero.  But the interesting thing is that now, two thousand years later, we name our sons Paul, and our dogs Nero.”

What did God accomplish through these disciples?  Want to make an impact in this world - disciple of Jesus?  Carry your cross with commitment to finish line.

Try this with me - if you mean it. 
“I will carry my cross - with commitment - to the finish line.”

Second illustration - verse 31 - what Jesus means by
“carry your cross”

Verse 31: 
Or what King, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

king is confronted with a battle - the enemy is marching towards him.  He’s outnumbered.  Defeat is certain.  The wise king seeks council - how to approach the battle.  He asks the questions, “What am I up against?  Can I win?”

When the Godly king sees that He can’t win He waves the white flag and gives up - surrenders.  So as Christians - when we realize what we’re up against - Jesus is teaching us that we should just give up.

Wait.  That can’t be right.

Against Goliath - the battle hardened Giant - scourge of Israel - God sends the boy David and a slingshot.  Against the Midianites and Amalekites - their armies as numerous as locusts - God pares down Gideon’s 32,000 men to a group of 300 guys armed with water pitchers and torches.  God takes a handful of relatively uneducated fishermen - a tax collector - and a prostitute and commissions them to share the Gospel with the world.  Same God who calls us to discipleship.

The point of battle is not the odds against us and the opportunity to wave a white flag.  Jesus’ point is our commitment to trust God and engage the enemy.

Paul writes,
“Our struggle is not against - what? - flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of - what? - darkness, against the spiritual forces of - what? - wickedness in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 5:12)

The Bible describes
our enemy - Satan - as a roaring lion - constantly seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)  The Apostle John writes, “Do not be surprised if the people of the world hate you.” (1 John 3:13)  Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before you.” (John 15:18)  To be a disciple of Jesus means being a target - for Satan - who’s going to use everything at his disposal in this world against us.

Say this with me - if you mean it: 
“I will carry my cross - trusting God - whatever the cost.”

Verse 33 is the summary of Jesus’ “carry your cross” call to commitment: 
So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - in his book, The Cost of Discipleship - writes about “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” 
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession…grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate…  Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.  Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.  It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” (2)

Our greatest possession?  Ourselves. 
Jesus says, think about what you’re getting yourself into.  Do you really want to be My disciple?  To be my disciple costs you everything so that all which is left is the visible working of Jesus in our lives.

Third challenge - verse 34: 
Therefore - if you really are my disciples - Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?  It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

To be a disciple of Jesus is to be good salt

Underline that statement: 
“Salt is good”  Good salt has value.  Good salt is infectious - it adds flavor - it transforms food - it produces something.    True disciples of Jesus are valuable to this world.

Share that with the person next to you. 
“You’re valuable salt.”

told His disciples during the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13)  What Jesus is talking about is the basic command thats given to every disciple of His:  Infect others with My Gospel - reproduce yourself by bringing others to Me.  It not an option.  Its a command.  The alternative is being cursed by God.

We know this. 
There’s either good salt or bad salt.  Bad salt is thrown out - its worthless - its “cursed.”

Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of Israel.  He warned them,
“the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and be given to a people who will produce the proper fruits.” (Matthew 21:43)  The same principle is applied to individuals and churches. 

Way too many churches have become self-serving Christian Clubs - followers of Jesus.  Christians living
faithful Christian lives - living in moral purity - attending church - financially supporting the ministry - holding themselves back from contact with the world - abstaining from the sinful - never once infecting the world as salt. 

Jesus told the disciples
, Follow Me, and I will teach you to catch men.” (Mark 1:17)  But the church - rather than learning how to fish - the role of a disciple - the church has become like fisherman who go out on a lake in some kind of huge yacht - oblivious to the condition of sea - expecting the fish to jump onto the yacht - so the hired help can club them to death.

Is a mystery why so many churches have seen the blessing of God removed from them?

“You are salt.” 
Be infectious.  Disciple - be burdened as Jesus is burdened.  Be burdened with the deep needs of those around you.  Learn from Me to touch people’s lives with the Gospel.  Be good salt.

Jesus concludes - the last sentence in verse 35: 
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  It’s almost a plea to those who are following.  “Are you listening?”

Jesus said, if you really want to follow Me - not just follow along because
it’s the right thing to do or because of what you may get from Me - if you really want to follow Me - be My disciple.  Make the doing of God’s will the priority of your life - My will becomes your will.  Carry your cross - to the end - whatever the cost - learn to trust Me.  Be burdened with what I’m burdened with - reach others with My Gospel.

In 2005 - may God lead us to where He desires to lead us.  May we be more than followers.  May we learn to be disciples.


1. Ray Stedman, from the sermon “The Way Of The Cross”
2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, page 47.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible
®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.