- Sermon Notes
The Cost and the Gain
The last time we studied in Luke we found Jesus in the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, but this week Jesus is on the move. He is headed toward Jerusalem in what will be His triumphant entry into that city, but this will end in His arrest, crucifixion, and of course His glorious resurrection.
As Jesus is going along the way, the multitudes are growing greater. And by all appearances they looked to be His disciples, but were they? Many of them were amazed at seeing the power of God moving through Him. He had the authority to cast out demons and the power to heal the sick and the blind; He confounded the Jewish leaders and taught them with the authority of God.
But many were in the crowd because it was the popular thing to do. They were following Him because He had power, perhaps even the power and authority to overthrow the Roman government. In other words, many people were following Him because everyone was doing it, it was the thing to do, they were just getting on the bandwagon with everyone else.
In a way, it’s a bit like the Jesus Movement of the 60s. There were many who were sincere in that movement and following Jesus for all the right reasons, but others were joining because it was becoming popular; it was the happening place to be and gradually efforts to commercialize it drove it further into insincerity.
Jesus could see through it all and knew the danger of all this, so He turned to the multitudes and in very strong words explained to them that there is a cost to discipleship. Of course there is wonderful blessing that comes with it as well, but Jesus here is speaking of the cost.
This journey to Jerusalem will cost Him His life, but what He gained was worth the great cost. Nevertheless, He clearly knew that He would take up His cross for us; and there is a cross for us to bear as well.
I. Love God Most
- In these next verses Jesus uses several illustrations so the multitude would understand the cost of discipleship.
- But He begins by making the point with shocking words, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own family, yes, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
A. He who loses his life will find it
- These words are a powerful paradox, but here is a key to understanding what Jesus is saying.
- We should not misunderstand Jesus and think that we have to hate our father or mother or brothers and sisters, or even hate our own life, that is the opposite of what the gospel teaches.
- For example, in Galatians Paul wrote that the fruit of the Spirit is love. And in another place John wrote very clearly…
1 John 4:20, If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
- What Jesus is saying is that being a disciple means that we love God above all, that love for God is the highest of our loves.
- If our love for God is the highest of our loves, it may come with a price. There are many places in the world even today where if someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ they are in danger of their life. They may be ostracized from their family and disowned, and possibly even killed.
- What Jesus is saying is that the most important relationship we have is our relationship to our Father in heaven.
- Jesus said that the greatest of all commandments is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, but many people then and even now do not realize that such a love may come at a cost.
App - That being said, it’s also important to understand that our relationship to our Father will make us a better husband or wife, son or daughter.
- In other words, out of our greatest love, our love toward God, comes all our other loves.
Matthew 22:39-40, “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
- In another place Jesus gives it as a paradox which is powerfully profound.
Luke 17:33, “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
B. Take up your cross and live
- This also is a paradox, but Jesus is giving them direction to find life, He just wants them to understand that living comes from dying.
John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
- When many people hear the phrase, take up your cross and follow Me,” to them it sounds like such a heavy burden.
- They think of it as the Eeyore spiritual life, “I guess that’s a cross all have to bear,” by that they mean some burden like a difficult job or controlling mother-in-law, etc.
- But here’s the paradox part of it, by saying “take up your cross” Jesus is telling us to die to those things that are the burdens of this world so we can find spiritual life.
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
- I don’t think there’s a more powerful way to say it than what Paul wrote…
Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is 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 gave Himself up for me.
II. Have Faith that Finishes Well
- Jesus uses two illustrations or parables to teach the multitude about counting the cost of following Jesus, but He also points them to having the faith to finish well.
- The first parable is about someone who wants to build a tower, but first must sit down to calculate the cost so he would be able to finish what he started.
- The second parable is about a king who would set out to meet another king in battle, but must first sit down and take counsel whether he would be strong enough to encounter the king coming against him with a greater army.
A. Count the cost; leaving the world behind
- The point of these parables is that we also must count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. To love God first and foremost means that we must be willing to leave all the other things behind.
- It’s as though God were saying, “Are you willing to put your present treasures on the scale against the eternal treasures of God’s promises?”
Illus - There was once a rich young ruler who came to Jesus with the question, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” Jesus then responded, “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” The young man responded, “Which ones?” Jesus then quoted from the Ten Commandments and added, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Amazingly, the young man said to Jesus, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus responded, “One thing you still lack, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
- For this rich, young man, all his stuff had become an idol in his life and Jesus told him to get rid of it so that he could follow Him.
- But the young man became grieved when he heard this and he turned and walked away. I think we should add, he turned and walked away empty-handed; for though he was rich, he had instantly become poor.
App - What are the things in your life that the Lord is saying, "You need to get rid this, it's keeping you from following Me"?
- For this young man it was his stuff, his possessions, for someone else it might be their cupboard full of alcohol, for someone else, their wallet full of credit cards, for someone else, they need accountability on the Internet, for someone else, they need to let go of their bitterness.
- Jesus is saying all this out of love because He knows there is no life in those things.
App - If sex truly satisfied the soul, prostitutes would be the happiest people on earth. If alcohol truly satisfied the soul, alcoholics would be the happiest people on earth. If credit cards truly satisfied the soul…
B. Keep pressing on to the finish
- The point of both parables is to finish well.
- How? By keeping the love you had at first. Do you remember when you first came to the Lord and the joy that was in your heart? Keep that love alive; that’s a key to finishing well.
Revelation 2:4-5, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first;”
- The Lord remembers the love you once had.
Jeremiah 2:2-3, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the first fruits of his harvest;”
- Finish well by laying aside everything that gets you tangled up. In other words, “The cross before me, the world behind me; no turning back, no turning back.”
- Stay out of the briars, stay out of the weeds; they will entangle your life and keep you defeated.
Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,”
- Finish well by not allowing your faith to be shipwrecked; instead, just stay steady in your faith. Even gaining by little steps you will be amazed at how far you can run.
Illus – Many things in life require steady progress; whether playing an instrument, or getting in shape, or dieting, or growing spiritually.
Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
C. Don’t lose your saltiness
- Finally, in verses 34 and 35 Jesus talks about salt, teaching the multitude and us that though we are the salt of the earth, we must not lose our saltiness.
- “Salt is good,” Jesus said, by salt soldiers were paid their wages. By salt meat would be preserved so that it not spoil or decay in the hot Middle Eastern sun. Salt was added to their wounds to keep them from getting infected. Newborn babies were rubbed with salt for cleansing and purifying.
- Salt stimulates thirst, that’s way theaters add so much to the popcorn. So don’t lose your saltiness. Don’t be diluted from the world.
Luke 14:25-35 NASB
25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 "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. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one 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? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 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? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. 34 "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?35 It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."