Date: February 10, 2019 Transcript:
Have you ever had the experience of buying something and then ended up paying a much higher price than you thought you were going to pay? It isn’t the case so much anymore, but that used to happen with some frequency when buying a new car.
You see an ad for a vehicle priced at say $20,000. However, when you go to make the purchase, you find that many of the things you want on a car are listed as options – air conditioning, power steering, automatic transmission, power windows, AM/FM radio, and tires! They are all options, and pretty soon that $20,000 costs $30,000 … and you feel kind of, well, cheated!
Friends, this morning our journey through the book of Luke brings us to Luke 9:57-62 (page 868). In this passage, we find that the price of being a disciple of Jesus might be a little higher than we anticipate. In other words, following Jesus may not be as easy as we have been led to believe.
However, as we will see, it is not Jesus who causes us to underestimate the cost of being a follower. He wants us to know right up front the true cost involved. He also wants us to know that no matter how high the price might seem, it is a great buy, a fantastic bargain, one where there will, ultimately, be zero regrets.
Let’s pause and pray the Lord would enable us to understand and apply the truth God reveals to us through this difficult, but important passage.
Let’s begin by reading our text…
Luke 9:57-62 – As they were traveling on the road someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Then he said to another, “Follow me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.” But he told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Here we have three individuals who are interested in being followers of Jesus. Two seem to volunteer, while the middle one is called by Jesus. In his response to each of them, the Lord Jesus clarifies some misconceptions people often have about being a follower of Jesus, a Christian.
#1 Being a follower of Jesus is not a life of luxury.
One man tells Jesus, I will follow you wherever you go, and Jesus responds:
Luke 9:58 – “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
If you are looking for a million dollar home with a heated swimming pool and a couple of Mercedes in the garage, becoming a follower of Jesus is probably not the road you want to take.
Now, this doesn’t mean that it is wrong for Christians to be wealthy. It simply means that if I am a follower of Jesus, my goal in life cannot be to enjoy wealth. If Jesus didn’t even have a bed on which to sleep, his disciples can hardly expect to stay in 5-star hotels all the time.
If the Lord chooses to bless someone with a lot of money, that is wonderful. However, if we have a lot of money, it is important to remember that we have a responsibility to be generous in both sharing with the poor and supporting the Lord’s work. It certainly should not be our expectation, however, that being a Christian will lead to financial gain.
Unfortunately, some folks who call themselves Bible teachers insist wealth is a clear sign of God’s blessing. They claim those living godly lives are guaranteed to enjoy financial success. Again, there are indeed godly people who have a lot of money, and I do believe that is a blessing from the Lord.
However, many wealthy people are not godly at all. Hollywood celebrities often fall into that category. The fact someone owns a yacht and private jet is hardly God’s stamp of approval.
And I know some very godly folks who simply don’t have much money at all. They live very simply. They are often very happy, but their treasure is stored up in heaven, not in their bank or 401-K. Now, being poor is not a virtue either. A wise, and probably godly perspective, is perhaps best summarized in:
Proverbs 30:8b-9 – Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.
Friend, if you trust and follow Jesus, you can be confident the Lord will meet your needs, but don’t expect a life of luxury.
#2 Following Jesus is not something that should be delayed or postponed.
Luke 9:59 – He (Jesus) said to another, “Follow me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.
That seems like a pretty reasonable request.
Luke 9:60 – But Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.”
That seems like kind of a strange reply. Frankly, this verse used to bother me as I thought, “How could Jesus say something like that.” Some Bible scholars point out that if the man’s father had really died, the corpse would be laying in the house awaiting burial. If that was the case, this fellow would have been at home and not out and about, talking to Jesus.
Thus, I think it is very likely the man’s father is still alive. What he means is that he will wait for his father to die, will then bury him, and then he will be ready to follow Jesus. That might be next week or could be ten years from now.
I am confident Jesus doesn’t mean to show any disrespect for the man’s father. He is simply saying the time to follow me is now. It is foolish to wait for some future, often imaginary stage of life when you are free from all other responsibilities and then follow Jesus. In fact, being a disciple of Jesus takes priority over every other responsibility. Now, I have never heard anyone say, “Let me have my dad’s funeral, and then I will be ready to follow Christ.”
However, I have heard a lot of excuses from folks who want to postpone that decision. Young people sometimes say, “Hey, when I get done with college, then I will start taking my faith seriously. Right now I have too much going on.” Newly married couples have said, “Well, when we have kids, then we will start going to church again.”
Parents sometimes say, “Well, when the kids get to school,” or maybe, “When they graduate and get out of the house, then I will have time to help out at church.” Or some say, “When I retire, then I’ll be able to devote time to serving the Lord.” And then the retired people say, “I am getting too old to do this. It is time to let the younger ones take over.” Friends, Jesus says, “The time to follow me is now!”
Whenever a sales person is trying to sell you something you are not sure you really need, it is a good idea to sleep on that decision. Oh, he/she will want you to buy right away, but if it’s wise to buy that product today, it will almost certainly still be a good decision tomorrow. That is a good rule to follow to avoid impulse buying which can be a real budget-buster.
However, what Jesus says is this: “If you are not willing to follow me today, you are not going to be willing to follow me tomorrow.” If something stands between you and God today, there will almost certainly be something else between you and God tomorrow. The call to follow Jesus is a call to which we must respond without delay.
“But, Pastor Dan, I have got a lot of responsibilities. A lot of people depend on me. I help my mom three or four times a week. I just cannot go off to Africa to be a missionary.” Well, it is pretty unlikely that the Lord wants you to head for Africa next week … unless you are the Klays!
For most of us, deciding to trust and follow Jesus will not mean any change in location or job. In fact, following Jesus means you have to help your mom out ten times a week instead of three or four.
The point is that if the Lord is calling you to do something today, you need to do it today, not tomorrow. Some folks decide, “Hey, I am going to stop procrastinating tomorrow.” No, if the Lord calls you to obey him today, doing so tomorrow is really disobedience.
#3 When one is a follower of Jesus, everything else kind of takes a backseat.
The third fellow Jesus encounters seems to make a reasonable request:
Luke 9:61 – Another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.”
That makes sense, right?
Luke 9:62 – But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Again, that seems like a very strange reply, but I believe Jesus recognizes something in the man’s request that we maybe miss. The man wants to follow Jesus … kind of. He wants to follow Jesus just as long as it doesn’t interfere with his family life.
Now, I certainly don’t think Jesus wants people to abandon their families or ignore the needs of their families. There are plenty of places in the New Testament where we as Christians are commanded to love and care for our spouse, children and parents.
Jesus’ point, however, is that his disciples, true followers, are even more loyal to him than they are to their own families. All other loyalties are to take second place to our loyalty to the Lord. Anyone who is constantly looking backward to those other commitments doesn’t really trust and follow Jesus.
Friends, God wants us to be committed to our families. He wants us to be committed to our work, to do a good job at whatever position you are employed. If you are a student, the Lord wants you to be committed to studying. C’s and D’s might get degrees, but usually it is A’s and B’s on the report card that are honoring to the Lord.
He wants us to enjoy the world in which we live. Sports and hobbies are wonderful things. Basketball or bocce ball, curling or crocheting, hunting or hang gliding – they are all good. Yet, none of these commitments, none of these activities should ever interfere with following Jesus.
If we ever find ourselves thinking, “I know I should do this. I know this is what the Lord wants me to do, but I cannot because …” – then it is time to stop. You might even want to slap your own face to wake yourself up because you are mentally asleep. It is foolish to think anything can be more important than what the Lord wants you to do at any particular time.
OK, friends, that is our text this morning. Perhaps you are thinking, “Yes, Pastor Dan, you are right. The cost of following Jesus is a little higher than I expected. Giving up my desire for wealth, having everything else in my life take second place to following and doing what the Lord wants me to do, when he wants me to do it, rather than when I want to do it – this is a little more than I’m interested in.”
Maybe you are thinking, “OK, how about if I negotiate with the Lord a bit. Instead of being a disciple, a follower of Jesus, can’t I just be a generic Christian?” I will ask Jesus to save me. I will try to be a good person, and I will even put some money in the offering plate once in a while. As long as I get to go to heaven when I die – that is a pretty good deal!
I’m sorry, friend, but I am not sure that is an option. I don’t know if that deal is available or if that type of Christianity is even possible. When I read the New Testament, it seems that all Christians are disciples. Oh, none of them are perfect, and many are far from perfect. Yet, they all acknowledge that as believers in Jesus, it is their responsibility to follow him wherever he leads. They didn’t always do that, but they realized it was wrong to not do so.
Now, maybe some of you are a bit confused. The idea of a cost to being a Christian seems different than the things we usually talk about here at CBC. We are a church that believes, “Jesus paid it all.” Salvation is free because Jesus paid the price for us.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not because of anything we have done, so that no one can boast.
How can you say someone has to follow Jesus to be a Christian?
I would explain it this way:
- Yes, God’s grace is free, freely given to all who
trust in Jesus
- None of us can earn or pay for it any way
- Yet, all who truly trust in Jesus have been born
again, regenerated by the Holy Spirit
- That Holy Spirit, indwelling every believer in
Jesus, gives each one a desire to follow him.
Oh, we certainly will not do that perfectly.
Remember, we are simultaneously righteous
and sinful, saint and sinner. Yet, as the
Apostle Paul says, we are new creatures in
- For that reason, all who have experienced
God’s saving grace, will seek to be his disciple
and will face the cost being a disciple of Jesus
And friend, to be frank, if you are unwilling to pay that price, if you have no desire to follow and obey Jesus, then you need to do some serious soul-searching. An unwillingness to follow Jesus is a sign one has a serious spiritual problem. It may mean someone is not truly trusting in Jesus; and thus, not really a Christian.
Friends, the cost of following Jesus may be higher than we expect. However, as believers in Jesus, we should be willing to pay that price. That may not seem very encouraging, but I have some great news:
No matter how much it costs to follow Jesus, no matter how much it seems we have to give up because we obey the Lord, it is worth it! It is well worth it! It is the most spectacular bargain anyone could ever imagine. Jesus tells us:
Matthew 19:29 NLT – And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.
That is a magnificent promise! The Lord illustrates this truth beautifully in what is my favorite parable, the Pearl of Great Price.
Matthew 13:45-46 – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.”
It was not a cheap pearl. It cost the merchant a lot of money. But it was worth every penny he paid for it. Though being a faithful disciple, being loyal to Jesus Christ may cost us much, it is worth it! We will likely begin to realize that in this life and will surely realize it in the next, in eternity.
Friend, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, maybe you sometimes wondered: Is it worth it? Is the price I pay for being a disciple worth it? Do you sometimes feel like a person who has bought a new car and is having second thoughts? There are a lot of other things you could do with that $20,000.
Maybe you think your life would be easier and less complicated if you were not so concerned about following and obeying the Lord. Maybe your life would be more comfortable, and you would be more popular in certain circles. Maybe you would have more fun.
Yes, friend, your life might be easier, but it would not be better! And whether those second thoughts are going through your mind today or it happens sometime in the future, you need to remind yourself of the great treasure you have in Jesus Christ.
You need to realize and remember that he is the source of much joy right now. The world has a difficult time replicating the forgiveness, love, freedom, meaning and hope that Christ provides right now. And in the future, following Jesus is the path to unimaginable, eternal joy!
Friends, years ago, the 70’s rock musical, Godspell, which was revived on Broadway in 2011, featured the song, “Day by Day.” It is not the same “Day by Day” that is in our hymnal. We are not going to sing it this morning. Nor am I going to sing it for you. I will remind you of the words:
Day by day
Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day
Friends, that is essentially what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. “To see thee more clearly” is a big part of what CBC strives to help you do. Ultimately, it is not us, but the Holy Spirit that enables us to see Jesus clearly. Yet, all sermons, Bible studies and Sunday School classes here at Chisholm Baptist have that purpose.
We want you to see more clearly the Lord Jesus Christ and understand more fully who he is, what he is like, what he has done for us through his death and resurrection, what he is doing for us today as our great High Priest in heaven, and what he will one day do for us, all of us, as he returns and rules as King of kings and Lord of lords, forever and ever.
When, by God’s grace, we see Jesus more clearly, then that love for him grows and grows, and we want to follow him wherever he leads. We want to be disciples, no matter how high the price, no matter how much it costs – because there is nothing and no one as worthy of our love and loyalty as Jesus!