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Counting the Cost

As a church we have been going through a series in the Gospel of Luke called the Lost Are Found. This post is meant to be a complement to the sermons and small group curriculum we have gone through in January 2019.

In Luke 14:12-24, Jesus shares a parable to a Pharisee about a great banquet. In that story many people rejected the invitation to a banquet. So, the ruler of the banquet instructed his servants to invite all of the poor and lame to this banquet. In verse 23 the master shows that he will not be satisfied until the house is filled for the banquet. As we learned from Pastor Tim’s sermon, this shows God’s heart for the lost. He wants the world to know Him. He was angry at the religious leaders who rejected Him, but He lovingly invited all who would not be able to pay Him back (v.24). In the parable, the lowly of society were able to enjoy the riches of a fine banquet.

Then, in verse 25, great crowds began to follow Jesus. As a reader, one would assume that this was the fulfillment of that parable. The religious leaders had rejected Jesus and were watching Him carefully (14:1). Yet, great crowds were following Jesus. The free invitation was being accepted by the masses. Then, Jesus did something that would likely be deemed a foolish church growth strategy. He told the followers that those who did not hate their family and take up their cross were unable to be His followers.

Most English Bibles subtitle this passage The Cost of Discipleship. This seems to be a paradox. How can the invitation to salvation be free, but the following of Jesus be so costly that we must hate our family and take up a form of the death penalty to follow Him?

First, this does not mean Jesus can be one’s Savior and not Lord. God knew exactly what He was doing when He inspired Luke to write these two accounts. The idea is that salvation is completely free for us. It is a gift of grace, which means we cannot earn it. In fact, Jesus had to earn it for us by living the perfect life that we could not live (Romans 5). Jesus is the way we gain access to the Father (John 14:6). That is what salvation is! It is being made right with God through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. So, salvation is free in that there is nothing that you or I can do to earn right standing with God.

Yet, to follow Jesus is costly. Why? Matthew 13:44 provides the answer for us. “The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

Jesus is that treasure. The great thing about the kingdom of heaven is not that we get to go to heaven after we die. It is not the feasts or anything else. It is that we get to have Jesus now and forever, but this costs everything. We must be willing to part with everything in our lives to follow Jesus, even good things. Having a good family, a good job, or possessions is not a wicked thing. To follow Jesus we must count all of those things as worthless compared to knowing Him.

Paul said it this way in Philippians 3:7, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as a loss for the sake of Christ.” If anyone could have earned his salvation it was Paul. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. He followed the Jewish laws. He was from proper lineage. He was a teacher in Israel. Despite this, his confidence before God was not in any of those things. His confidence was in Christ alone. He counted all of those things as loss compared to knowing Jesus.

This is what Jesus meant in Luke 14. What means the most to you in this life? Your parents, your wife, your children, your status, etc.? To be able to follow Jesus you must be willing to count all of those things as a loss compared to knowing Him. It does not mean that you must forsake those things literally, because the Bible tells us elsewhere to be godly spouses, parents, children, and workers. It means you do not make any of those things the primary focus of your life. You take those good gifts and make much of Jesus with them. It means you take up your cross daily and die to all of your worldly desires to make much of Jesus.

So salvation is a free gift offered to all, but the cost is why many do not receive that free gift. Those who reject it, look at the cost and think it is not worth giving up something or all the things of this world to follow Jesus. The point of Luke 14 is that it is worth the cost. When you consider if the loss of all things is worth gaining Christ, the answer is a resounding YES! Jesus is the treasure that our hearts are looking for. He is life. So the question is, what are you holding onto that makes you unable to follow Jesus? Or if you have already begun to follow Jesus, how does your life reflect that He is worth the loss of all things?

Article written by our Pastor of Family Ministry, Armando Yzaguirre Jr.

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