Intro.: Russian comedian, Yakov Smirnoff talks about when he first moved to America, he was amazed at the variety of instant products he could buy in the store. There’s powdered milk: just add water and you have milk. There’s powdered orange juice: just add water and you have orange juice. Then he saw Baby Powder and thought, “What a great country! If you want a baby, just add water!”
Is that how disciples are made? Are there “instant disciples”?
You take a person and add baptism water?
A disciple is a true follower of Jesus Christ. We call ourselves Christians. If you are a Christian, you are a disciple; if you are not a disciple as Jesus defines it then you are not a Christian.
In fact the term "disciples" occurs 269 times in the New Testament, while the term "Christian" only occurs 3 times.
Acts 11:26 "The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch."
This makes clear that the terms are interchangeable.
Jesus’ words in verse 27:
"Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple"
= "Anybody who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be a Christian."
In Luke 14 the people wanted to see a miracle or get a free meal.
The crowd is about to become much smaller – Jesus sets forth the cost of discipleship - requires total commitment.
In verses 26 and 27 Jesus explains in vivid and clear terms what it means to be his disciple.
To be a disciple of Jesus, you must be committed to him above
Verse 26 - "anyone who comes to me. . ." - applies to everyone who would be one of his followers.
First image - Jesus uses the family.
"Anyone who comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters,-yes, even his own life cannot be my disciple."
"Hate" here is not meant to be taken literally but is rather used figuratively.
It is hyperbole. Example: “The man was as big as a house. . ."
In Jewish culture the word "hate" was used to express lesser love.
In Matthew 10 Jesus said, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved…Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:22, 37)
Jesus is not speaking of our emotional feelings toward him or our families
but rather he is speaking of our level of commitment. He is saying that our commitment to obey and following him must be greater than any other commitment in our lives. In other words, Jesus must be first in our priorities and loyalties. Is this true in your life?
illus.: Heather Mercer and Dana Curry were arrested by the Taliban and held prisoner for 128 days in Afghanistan. Dateline interviewed Heather Mercer’s mother. It was the kind of story the media likes because they discovered Heather’s mother was totally opposed to Heather’s decision to work in Afghanistan. The media really tried to play up the story to show Heather’s commitment to Christ had divided her family. They wanted to keep asking her how she could do something her mother opposed.
In her new book, Prisoners of Hope, Heather wrote:
“We answered hard questions posed by our families and friends. Extraordinary are the parents who don’t balk at the idea of their child moving to a third-world, war-ravaged, drought-stricken country–and, in this case, a country serving as a hub for international terrorist activity. That we had decided to go as Christian aid workers to a country where a harsh, unpredictable regime severely curtailed religious freedom gave most of our loved ones pause at best, and otherwise prompted serious alarm. We were asked: ‘Aren’t you being foolish? Why would you jeopardize your own safety?’”
If following Jesus obediently results interferes with your closest relationships, will you still follow him?
We must also be committed to him above "even our own lives" as Jesus says in verse 26. This refers to our physical lives which we must be willing to surrender for Jesus’ sake. It also refers to our personal desires, goals, interests, and even needs.
Our bank accounts, our public image, our jobs, our pleasure
The cross is a Metaphor in verse 27
The cross was a cruel form of punishment used by the Romans. The criminal was forced to "carry his cross" to the place of execution. Everyone knew that this person was saying "goodbye" to everything.
Paul understood what it meant to carry a cross.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me...” (Galatians 2:20)
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature
with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
It’s as if the world is dead to you and you are dead to the world.
*The cross doesn’t mean the end of the Christian’s life but the beginning.
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
German pastor during WWII. Because he opposed Hitler and the Nazis, he was imprisoned where he died before the war ended. He wrote:
“The cross is laid on every Christian. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death–we give over our lives to death. The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” (p.99).
Contradictory to scriptural truth that salvation is a free gift of God?
illus.: Suppose I had a desire to climb Mount Everest. But it costs about $70,000 to do it and I don’t have that kind of money. Suppose a wealthy businessman heard of my desire and offered to pay for the entire expedition. He would buy all the expensive clothing and gear; he would pay for my transportation, the guides, and the training. It’s totally free for me. But if I accept his free offer, I have just committed myself to months of difficult training and arduous effort. It could even cost me my very life, because many good climbers die trying to climb Mount Everest. It is free and yet very costly.
Read Verses 28-33. Examples of the tower and going into battle.
*It is necessary to take in to account the cost and commitment necessary
to follow Jesus.
Illus.: There is a commercial that has run on TV recently that has a man sitting in the chair at a tattoo parlor expressing his love to Donna by getting her name tattooed on his arm. Halfway through the procedure he asks how much it will cost $50.00. He pulls out his cash, and says, “Oh, I only have $41” Cut to the couple on the sidewalk, Donna storming off, with the guy yelling after her, "I’ll get it fixed." Zoom into the tattoo which reads, "I love Don!”
Not finishing is a careless mistake!
illus.: football runner drops ball before crossing the goal line.
A real disciple finishes strong.
Jesus is asking us, "Are you willing to follow me no matter what happens or whatever you’re required to give up?"
Jesus wasn’t interested in numbers. Large crowds didn’t impress him but
what he wanted was totally committed people.
Christianity today includes many who are just part of the crowd and not true disciples. There are many who have not listened to Jesus and considered the cost. This is why recent polls show little difference between the way the world lives and professed Christians live.
Professed Christians do many of the same things unbelievers do. They drink alcohol. They use foul language. They watch worldly TV shows. They visit obscene websites. They focus on themselves and their possessions.
In verse 33, Jesus once again makes clear the cost of following him. He says the disciple must be willing "to give up everything."
In the Greek the terms means “Everything!” Everything means everything! Everything means a comfortable job, a favorite hobby, our most prized possessions, our free time, money, our goals and dreams.
Jesus is referring to an attitude of the heart in which these things don’t have priority over obeying Jesus in our lives. The Greek word translated as "give up" can also be translated as "say goodbye or renounce." In other words, Jesus says that we must be willing to renounce or forsake anything when it interferes with following him faithfully and completely.
illus.: Jesus: “What is that?” “You must give it to me.” Item after item.
“Lord, you have taken everything.”
“You may have them all. Just remember that they are mine.”
Read Verses 34-35
Salt was very valuable during Jesus’ time.
Roman soldiers were paid with salt rations. The Latin phrase “Solarium Argentums” is where we get our word “salary.”
We speak of someone who is “not worth their salt.”
In the time of Jesus - a preservative. No refrigeration.
The salt created a chemical reaction that slowed down the process of decay. It retarded corruption, so as a consequence, it preserved the goodness of the meat. That’s
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be
made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13)
Salt represents our commitment to Jesus. When that commitment is complete then the "salt is good."
Salt in Jesus day wasn’t pure like salt is today, so it could by various means "lose its saltiness." The salt came from the Dead Sea. When the water evaporated, it left salt. But the salt was mixed with other minerals that although it looked like salt, and poured like salt, it wasn’t salty. When it was placed on food, it was tasteless. When it was applied to fresh meat, the meat rotted.
Jesus posed the question, “If salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” The only thing to do with it was to put it on the road and use it for gravel. Sadly, many believers live such impure lives that they have lost their sense of saltiness in a rotting world. Serve no purpose for God.
Jesus is saying that people who follow him without total commitment are like that salt that has lost its saltiness.
Only the appearance of salt.
Only give a part of their lives to him.
How Can I Be Salty?
1. Make it your #1 desire. Must be a “want to” and not a “have to.”
illus.: my exercise
2. Get rid of the junk.
illus.: diets are destroyed by junk foods
What goes in through your eyes and your ears.
illus.: we stopped watching the news every evening.
TV, radio, magazines, websites
3. Make yourself accountable.
Set some reasonable goals and follow through.
Achieve one before you do the next.
A. Schedule - Daily prayer, Reading the Bible, Church Attendance
B. Service – family, church, neighbors
C. Sacrifice – Giving, Time, Desires
*Do these things as a family.
We can be great disciples
– Macedonians – “first gave themselves to the Lord”