“DEVELOPING DEVOTED DISCIPLES” Luke 14:25-35
INTRO – Imagine w/ me a young man who walks into a military recruiting office to join up. The reason he wanted to join us was b/c he thought military uniforms were cool & he wanted to wear one. But when he talks w/ the recruiter, he finds out:
- Have to go through intense boot camp
- Hard physical training & exercise
- Have to submit to superior officers
- Go to war – Put life on the line
- Live in hostile territory in harsh conditions
- Be separated from family for long periods of time
- May get captured by enemy
- May get injured
- May get killed
“Oh, I don’t want to sign up for all of that. I just want the uniform.”
How many people want to be a Christian just b/c they want to “wear the uniform” of eternal life? They just want to go to heaven. Want to get their “fire insurance” paid up.
- Don’t want to be committed to the Church – “Don’t like those people down there…full of hypocrites…they hurt my feelings one time…don’t do things the way I think they should be done…”
- Don’t want anyone holding them accountable in their walk w/ Christ
- Don’t want to get up earlier than they normally do in order to spend time in Bible reading & prayer
- Don’t want to give at least 10% of their income to the Lord’s work
- Don’t want to be inconvenienced or give up personal time to serve the Lord – don’t want to give up my vacation time to go on mission trip or chaperone a youth trip; give up my Saturday morning to work at Mission Byram or Lunch 4 Christ; give up my Sunday night to host a Bible study in my home
- Don’t want to give up going to “big church” in order to work in the nursery once or twice a year
- Don’t want to be expected to invite anyone to church or tell anyone about Jesus
“Oh, I didn’t know any of that was expected of a Christian. I just wanted to wear ‘the uniform.’ I just want to go to heaven.”
v. 25 – “Now great crowds accompanied Him,” & in those great crowds, there were many of these types of followers. People who had a superficial commitment to Jesus. People who were just following to see what they could get out of Him. People who were just looking out for themselves & their own interests.
Article in magazine last week – “100 Fastest Growing Churches in America.” Peruse through list of churches. Fastest growing church last year – Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, OH – Avg. attendance – 28,386. Added 5,928 people last year. Largest church in country last year – Church of the Highlands in Birmingham – over 40,000 in attendance. Added 2,225 people last year.
Many times we evaluate success by numbers. Nothing wrong w/ big churches. We want more people in church. Don’t like to see empty seats & pews. Pastors of large churches are the ones who get their books published & get the invitations to preach all over the place. Nothing necessarily wrong w/ wanting more people in church. Lots of lost people all around us who need Jesus.
But Jesus wasn’t necessarily worried about having big crowds of disciples. He was worried about having big commitment from His disciples. Someone once said, “Salvation is both absolutely free and yet it costs you your very life. You receive it freely at no expense to you, but once you receive it, you have just committed everything you are and have to Jesus Christ.” (https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-70-cost-discipleship-luke-1425-35)
Let me give you 3 things to consider about what it means to be a truly devoted disciple of Jesus. A disciple will:
CARRY HIS CROSS – v. 25-27 – Luke 9:23 – “And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself & take up his cross & follow me.’” What does it mean to carry our cross?
What it DOESN’T mean: It doesn’t mean that our cross is some undue, inconvenient burden that we have in our life – a bad job, a difficult relationship, a sickness – “Well, that’s just my cross to bear.” Not what Jesus meant.
To the first century person, the cross meant only one thing: death in the most humiliating, painful way imaginable. When Jesus turned to the throngs of people & said that they would need to bear a cross, their minds would have been flooded w/ images of criminals hanging from Roman crosses along the roads. They would have thought of blood running down beaten & bruised bodies. They would have thought of the sounds of people groaning & crying out in agony & pain. They would not have thought about a gold piece of jewelry hanging from someone’s necklace. They would have thought about death.
Those who truly want to follow Christ must realize that it is a call to die. We must die to our own selfish desires & live for His desires for our lives. We must be willing to sacrifice our comfort & conveniences to live for Him. We must be willing to suffer for Him & b/c of our commitment to Him. Following Him will mean that your friendships may die, your reputation may die, your job/business may die, your family relationships may die, YOU may die. That’s what Jesus meant when He said we would need to carry our own cross if we are going to follow Him.
A disciple will also:
COUNT THE COST – v. 28-32 – An extremely critical part of our growth in being a disciple of Jesus is a deepening understanding of what it truly costs to follow Christ. This is part of our sanctification process as we mature in our faith. We accept Christ as our Savior & Lord & begin this incredible journey of faith w/ Him. As we walk w/ Him, our faith deepens, our understanding deepens, our spiritual comprehension deepens, & the depth of our commitment & dedication to Him deepens. We count the cost of what it means to be His disciple. Some folks count the cost at the beginning of their journey & sell out completely to the Lord when they are saved. Others count the cost after they’ve already begun the journey. I think this is why many people make a “rededication” of their life – they made a true faith commitment to the Lord at an earlier time in their life, trusting the Lord as much as they know how & w/ as much knowledge as they have at that time. But as they grow in their walk & spiritual maturity, they begin to see what it truly means to count the cost & follow Christ, & realize the need to rededicate their life the Him. Some make a “public rededication” of their life; others do in the privacy of their own personal quiet time or in a time of prayer & commitment on their own. But, whenever it happens, ALL of us as Christ-followers, if we are going to truly follow Christ as His disciple, we must count the cost, like the man building a tower in v. 28-30, or the king going off to war in v. 31-32.
COMMIT COMPLETELY – v. 33 – Jesus puts a strong exclamation point on His teaching here w/ this statement: “Any of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
The word for “renounce” means “to say goodbye, or bid farewell.” Jesus brought His teaching here to a dramatic conclusion to separate those who wanted to truly follow Him from those who were just curious thrill-seekers. One commentator put it like this:
“‘We must live in this world as though the soul was already in heaven and the body moldering in the grave’ (St. Francis de Sales). There was much unreasoning; possibly not a little sentimental enthusiasm, among the people who crowded round Jesus in these last months of his work. The stern, uncompromising picture of what ought to be the life of his real followers was painted especially with a view of getting rid of these useless, purposeless enthusiasts. The way of the cross, which he was about to tread, was no pathway for such light-hearted triflers.”
These are tough, convicting, penetrating words for you & me to consider today. Which of us in this place today has truly made & is presently truly living w/ this level of commitment to Christ? Who among us can say today that we are ready to renounce all of our possessions, dreams, & plans & follow Christ? Who among us would say goodbye to:
- Our wives/husbands?
- Our kids/grandkids?
- Our homes?
- Our bank accounts/retirement accounts that we’ve worked so hard to build up for the future?
- Our education plans, our business plans, our family plans, our retirement plans?
As Christ-followers, we must wrestle w/ these questions. If we are really honest, we really don’t think they apply to us. We really don’t think that Jesus really requires this. We really don’t think this would happen to us. That’s for the missionaries, the people who live under real persecution, people who are the real radicals. They’re hard questions, uncomfortable questions, & we may not like the answers that we give to these questions. But this is all part of the growth & maturity process in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I like the way one man tells the story of the pearl of great price. A man sees this pearl and says to the merchant, “I want this pearl. How much is it?”
The seller says, “It’s very expensive.” “How much?” “A lot!” “Well, do you think I could buy it?” the man asks.
“Oh, yes,” says the merchant, “everyone can buy it.”
“But I thought you said it was very expensive.” “I did.” “Well, how much?” “Everything you have,” says the seller.
“All right, I’ll buy it.” “Okay, what do you have?”
“Well, I have $10,000 in the bank.” “Good, $10,000. What else?” “That’s all I have.” “Nothing more?” “Well, I have a few dollars more in my pocket.” “How much?” “Let’s see … $100.” “That’s mine, too,” says the seller.
“What else do you have?” “That’s all, nothing else.” “Where do you live?” the seller asks. “In my house. Yes, I own a home.” The seller writes down, “house.” “It’s mine.”
“Where do you expect me to sleep—in my camper?” “Oh, you have a camper, do you? That, too. What else” “Am I supposed to sleep in my car?” “Oh, you have a car?” “Yes, I own two of them.” “They’re mine now.”
“Look, you’ve taken my money, my house, my camper, and my cars. Where is my family going to live?” “So, you have a family?” “Yes, I have a wife and three kids.” “They’re mine now.”
Suddenly the seller exclaims, “Oh, I almost forgot! You yourself, too! Everything becomes mine—wife, children, house, money, cars, and you, too.” Then he goes on, “Now, listen, I will allow you to use all these things for the time being. But don’t forget that they’re all mine, just as you are. And whenever I need any of them, you must give them up, because I am now the owner.” (Adapted from The Disciple [Creation House], pp. 34-35.)
The life of a disciple of Jesus Christ is a life of COMPLETE COMMITMENT!
CONCLUSION: The end result of the life of a disciple is eternal life. It begins the moment we give our lives to Christ. He gives us His abundant life, a life of purpose, meaning, & direction. It’s not a life free from pain, difficulty, hardship, & extreme sacrifice. But it IS a life that is the ONLY life to live! It’s the ONLY life that leads to spending eternity in heaven one day.
So where are YOU today in your walk w/ Christ?
- Maybe this sermon has caused you to count the cost.
- Maybe this sermon has caused you to realize that you’re falling short in your commitment
- Maybe this sermon has caused you to realize that you’re not saved & you want to begin a relationship w/ Jesus.
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St Luke (Vol. 2, p. 28). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.