This is week four of our look at the cost of following Jesus. It is my intention that this should be the final installment in the series, and I will hold to that decision right up until the time I change my mind and do another one! 😉
You can read the first three installments of this multi-part posting here:
Part 1 of “Following Jesus Will Cost You Everything (Part 1).”
Part 2 of “Following Jesus Will Cost You Everything (Part 2).”
Part 3 of “Following Jesus Will Cost You Everything (Part 3).”
Choosing a Teacher
When we do decide to become a Christ follower, we will need quality instruction, therefore we need to choose our teachers and mentors with care. In all candor, I am dumbfounded by the sizable followings garnered by men and women who are obvious charlatans. It is important to choose teachers from among those who can demonstrate they know what they are talking about, and by “demonstrate,” I mean show from scripture.
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
– Lk 6:39–40, ESV
One aspect of choosing a teacher is choosing someone who already IS where you want to be. If you chose me as your teacher, even if we could meet daily, I cannot lead you to a place I am not. Choose a teacher who is where you want to be.
Jesus said one who is fully trained will be like his teacher. Jesus also said in John 13 that he is both Teacher and Lord! Thus, our true goal is to be like Jesus, our ultimate teacher. When we consider how Jesus lived, what he embraced, how he interacted with the religious aristocracy, how he died, this is a tall order!
Counting the Cost
As we consider the possibility of becoming a Christ-follower, a disciple of Jesus, we need a full reckoning of the consequences such a decision carries with it – the costs attached. We have already noted in previous postings that following Jesus will cost us everything.
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.
– 1 Corinthians 6:19b–20a, ESV
Now that we know following Jesus will cost us everything, our very selves, the only remaining question is, “Is that a price I am willing to pay?” Whereas the current-generation model of evangelism is to plead at length with people to cave in and follow Jesus, that was not Jesus’ model. There is never any compulsion or coercion. Jesus never begged people to follow him. Quite the opposite. He actively discouraged them from doing so.
As men and women expressed interest in following Jesus, he called their attention to the imperative that each should invest the time required to determine whether or not they can follow to the finish. Without such a consideration, and a positive conclusion, Jesus says “You cannot be my disciple.”
In Luke 14, we are getting deep into the ministry of Christ. His popularity is high. People follow him, clamoring to get close to him, to touch him, to hear what he is saying.
He’s popular. He’s fun. He’s intriguing.
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “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. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
– Luke 14:25-27, ESV
It is important to understand that, in saying this, Jesus is not laying down a prohibition, but rather making a statement regarding abilities. He is not saying he forbids anyone being his disciple. The literal reading of his statement says that such a person does not have the “power” to be his follower. They do not possess the tools necessary to complete the task.
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
– Luke 14:28-33, ESV
Over my 40+ years of being a Christ-follower I have seen far too many engage the race only to bail out shy of the finish line. Too many put their hand to the plow and find themselves looking back, longing after Egypt. “Oh, if only I were still there.” These are the tower-builders who are mocked for engaging the project but being unable to finish. These are the would-be followers who jump in not possessing the tools necessary to complete the task before them.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
– Luke 9:23-25, ESV
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.”
– 2nd timothy 3:12-14, ESV
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
– 2nd Peter 2:20-22, ESV
I assure you, next week we will go a completely different direction. Until then . . .