Sermon on Luke 14:25-33
Text: Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
In times of unrest and insecurity, people will look to different places for a sense of security. A child may hug their blanket tightly during a thunderstorm or, more likely, go running to their mother. People feel a sense of security in going home. People find their security in family or friends. Sometimes, unfortunately, people think they can find security in things that are harmful to them, such in alcohol or drugs. For as much as people search for this security, they so often fail to find it. Where can one find this elusive security and stability that we search for? This morning, we see that JESUS’ DISCIPLES’ LOOK TO HIM 1. Whenever Personal Problems Threaten, 2. Whenever The Effort Seems Too Great and 3. Whenever The Enemy Seems Too Powerful.
Our text takes place as Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover. We read in verse 1, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus.” A large group of Passover pilgrims traveled with Jesus to celebrate the Passover. Jesus was a very popular figure at the time and, no doubt, some of them wanted to follow Jesus as his disciple. Jesus used this occasion to teach the crowd exactly what would be required of those who would follow him.
Before we go any further, we want to remind ourselves that following Jesus is not something that we do on our own. As a matter of fact all people, by nature, run away from God. We sin against our God in many ways, such as our callous attitude toward others, our selfishness, and so many other ways. Because of this, we each deserve to spend our eternity in hell. However, as we were wandering away, Jesus came to the earth to be our Savior. He followed his Father’s will perfectly by the way that he lived his life and then sacrificed that perfect life on the cross. He rose on Easter morning to assure us that our sins were forgiven. Through this process, Jesus paid for all of our sins. Then, in love, he sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts and said, in gracious invitation, “Follow me.” By this, we are followers of Jesus Christ. We are his disciples.
However, as we wish to follow Jesus in thankful response for all that he has done for us, he wants us to know exactly what lies before us. He says in verses 26&27, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
When we hear the word, “hate,” it shakes us up. It does not sit well with us. We might think that Jesus is just speaking hypothetically. Yet, the Greek here tells us that Jesus is talking about a very real condition. It has to do with those who want to be Jesus’ disciples. When Jesus uses the word “hate,” he means it in a very real sense. However, Jesus does not mean it in a malicious, evil-minded sense, but in the sense of renouncing natural affections for the sake of Christ. Whatever contradicts or prevents discipleship is to be hated, not just disliked or disapproved.
Let’s put this in practical terms. Suppose a relative, whether it be a parent, child or sibling, is doing something that is not the way that God would have us act or talk. What are we going to do? Our natural instinct would be to keep quiet, because we do not want to hurt their feelings or rock the boat. However, by doing this, who are you showing more love to? This is also true if they were to ask you to join them in something that is not right, such as speaking badly about someone else. Do you stand up and say this is wrong or do you keep quiet or do you join in? It might seem mean to say something, but when we do, we are showing that we want to follow Jesus with our entire lives. These are personal problems that we face as we deal with others around us.
Jesus also speaks of “carrying our cross.” This speaks of the total life of humility that the Christian lives here on the earth. Carrying our cross might mean that we lose our life for the sake of Jesus. At this moment in our country’s history that seems to be a remote possibility. Here, it also means that we are willing to suffer persecution, even if it is only verbal, for the name of Christ. It means being willing to suffer the mockery of others as we stand up for Christ. Each Christian will face his/her own time of testing as followers of Jesus who bore the cross to save us. Jesus’ disciples look to him, whenever personal problems threaten.
As we can see, it will not always be easy to follow Jesus. It will take some effort. Jesus wants us to be ready, to count the cost. He shows us this by means of the illustration in verses 28-30, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”
Jesus’ point is quite clear in this illustration. In the illustration a major project, the building of a tower, is being undertaken. The entire life of a disciple is to be a grand, lofty monument to God’s glory. If the person is not able to finish the building project, people will ridicule him. If a believer fails to live a Christian life, or ultimately falls from the faith, the unbeliever will find reason to not only mock that individual, but also God. They may say things like, ‘If that’s the way that a Christian acts, I don’t want any part of it.’ They might say that they see no difference in the way that a person who calls themselves a Christian acts and the way they act. Why bother doing differently?
Yes, it is true that some people like that are just searching for excuses. They might say that they do not want to have anything to do with those hypocrites. While it may be true that some have besmirched the name of Jesus, we want to be sure that we do not dishonor our family name, Christian. Yes, the effort is great. Our lives are to be a grand monument to God’s glory. It is not some tumbled down shack. A firm decision and a complete devotion are necessary on the part of the builder. Half-hearted or compromising discipleship will fail to glorify God as we should. Jesus asks us to commit all of ourselves, our bodies and minds, our time and skills, our treasures, everything.
Again, Jesus teaches us that it will be a struggle, a battle. He speaks of war in verses 31-33, “Suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
Discipleship means going to war. It means that we will be fighting three great enemies: the devil with his tricks and temptations, the unbelieving world with its dazzling allurements, and our sinful nature which works behind the scenes to undermine our resolve. These are pictured by the 20,000 coming against us. We are tempted on every side to abandon our discipleship of Jesus. We realize that we cannot count on our own abilities, pictured by the 10,000, to meet and defeat the enemy.
The point of Jesus’ illustration is not that we are to surrender to the enemy, because his forces are so great and powerful. Nor is Jesus’ point that we want to try and escape the battle. Try and find a place where Christianity is not under attack. This is impossible for the person who wants to follow Jesus.
The point is that we fight the good fight of faith, not according to our strength, but rather with the strength that Jesus provides. Actually, that has been the main point throughout these three sections of our sermon. We cannot stand up under these attacks without Jesus being there to lift us up. We could not do anything to the glory of God without Jesus being behind us, giving us both the will and the ability to do so. We could not stand up to one attack of the devil, the world or our sinful nature, if Jesus had not provided the full armor of God, which Paul describes in Ephesians 6 and if Jesus were not right there by our side, fighting for us. We realize that we cannot follow Jesus without him helping us to do so. He gives us the motivation, the fact that he was willingly to sacrifice everything for us. We, in return, want to say ‘Thank you’ and we do so as we live for him. Jesus also gives us the ability, as he sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
Where is true security to be found? Is it in a full bank account? Is it in a family relationship? Is it in a blanket? These are all wonderful, but true security rests in Jesus Christ. We are his disciples, who look to him whenever personal problems threaten, whenever the effort seems too great or the enemy seems too powerful. We are reminded so beautifully in the hymn, “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.” Amen.
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