Parables of Jesus: Cost of Discipleship
A pastor was giving the children’s message during church. For this part of the service, he would gather all the children around him and give a brief lesson before dismissing them for children’s church. On this particular Sunday, he was using squirrels for an object lesson on industry and preparation.
He started out by saying, “I’m going to describe something, and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is.” The children nodded eagerly.
“This thing lives in trees (pause) and eats nuts (pause)…” No hands went up. “And it is gray (pause) and has a long bushy tail (pause)…” The children were looking at each other, but still no hands raised. “And it jumps from branch to branch (pause) and chatters and flips its tail when it’s excited (pause)…”
Finally one little boy tentatively raised his hand. The pastor breathed a sigh of relief and called on him. “Well,” said the boy, “I know the answer must be Jesus … but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me!”
Today we are going to look at another parable that Jesus told.
I hope God has blessed you as we have spent these past few weeks looking at these parables. It’s always a blessing to study the words of our Lord and Savior.
Our text this morning is found it Luke 14:25-35
In v. 25 we read that large crowds were going along with Him.
Jesus’ goal was NOT to have large crowds of nominal believers following Him. He didn’t want a bunch of false followers.
His goal was to have an intimate group of true disciples.
Those who truly understood what it meant to follow Him.
Those who have taken time to consider the cost and
Those who would be faithful to the end no matter the cost
Notice the harsh wording that He repeats three times in these few verses. Verses 26, 27 and 33
You cannot be My disciple if you aren’t willing to totally surrender to Me.
Following Christ requires Full Surrender
Jesus gives three areas that He requires believers to surrender;
Persons, Plans and Possessions
Let’s begin by looking at what it means to
Surrender the Persons in our Lives
Jesus says that anyone who comes to Him and doesn’t hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters and even his own life, he can not be His disciple.
This word hate is not to be taken literally here because that would contradict other Scripture where Jesus tells us to love our brother and to honor our father and mother. When He uses the word hate, he means to love them less than Jesus
The idea is that a disciple of Christ must view every relationship as subordinate to their relationship with Christ.
That means that people come in second to Christ.
Think of it this way; we ought to love God so much that it makes it seem like we hate our parents, kids, siblings, etc.
Also, if one of our earthly relationships asks us to do something that goes against God’s word we must always follow what God tells us to do, regardless of the consequences.
Next, let’s look at what Jesus says about
Surrendering our Plans
Jesus says, “whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
Just a few chapters earlier Luke records Jesus saying something similar in Luke 9:23 “and He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the book the Cost of Discipleship.
Here’s a great quote from it:
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and 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.
It is costly because it condemns sin,
and grace because it justifies the sinner.
Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.
Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
Taking up our cross means that we are willing to carry our faith even to our death because we understand the price that Jesus paid for us.
He paid the ultimate price so that we could have assurance that we will one day be together with God forever and ever in heaven.
Paul summed it up this way in his letter to the Galatian church.
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.”
Thinking about our lives before Christ, what do we give up?
We must give up selfishness
We must give up covetousness
We must give up worldliness
When we surrender to Christ, we give up the plans we have for our life and let him direct our ways and our thoughts and our words.
Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ
I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord
Let your speech always be with grace
Next, Jesus gives two parables to help the disciples truly think about the cost of discipleship.
Parable of the Tower
He mentions a man who wants to build a tower – he says that any man who is reasonable would sit down and consider the cost before jumping in to the task of building a tower.
If he doesn’t he may get the foundation poured and then not have enough funds to build the rest of the tower.
He says that the people will ridicule him if he does this.
Parable of the King going to Battle
Then he mentions a king who is going out to battle.
That king will in the same way sit down and consider if he has enough troops to succeed in the skirmish.
If not, he will send someone to negotiate terms of peace.
Two words in these two parables stood out to me
Consider and calculate
Here’s the point to these two parables
Following Christ isn’t something to be entered into lightly.
There is a cost associated with it.
God’s grace is free, but once we receive it, we will surrender to a life lived in obedience to the commands of Christ.
We will follow His plan for our life and be willing to go or do whatever He asks us to do.
That leads me to the third requirement Jesus has for discipleship
Surrender of Possessions
V.33 Jesus says, “none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
Does this mean that everyone who desires to be a disciple must sell everything they have or they cannot be His disciple?
Of course not.
The rich young ruler was asked by Jesus to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor, but that isn’t what God requires for all of His disciples.
Some people God will call to the mission field and they will have to sell their possessions in obedience to God.
Daniel and Kaci are a great example of that.
But God doesn’t call everyone to give up what they have.
The point of this verse is about the attitude of surrender.
It’s having the mindset that everything we have comes from God and is a gift and blessing. And that God wants us to use it for His glory. God desires us to yield our possessions to His control and use them under the lordship of Christ.
Because we live in the most affluent country in the world, we often don’t have to sacrifice like some of our brothers and sisters in Christ across the globe.
Is your discipleship costly?
I want to challenge you this morning to consider if your faith is costing you something. Is there some sin that is keeping you from fully surrendering to Christ?
We are called to be set apart, to live holy lives.
Jesus said blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
He also said, in this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.
If we live for Christ we are going to experience some troubles
What has your faith cost you?
What are you willing to risk to follow Christ?