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3 The Cost of Discipleship


Discipleship  is our opportunity to tap the infinite resources of God. It is our chance to give our lives to significance rather than mediocrity. In discipleship we are not doing God a favor. He is doing us a favor.  Our Lord gives us many wonderful gifts, then He comes to us and says, “I would like to have them all back – every one of them.” He does this so He can combine them with His unlimited resources and give them all back to us.  Discipleship was designed by God to give us the help we need. It is important that the disciple grasp this important concept.

However, Jesus also warns us to weigh the cost and weigh it well, for discipleship will cost us something. But the results are infinitely greater that the cost, so much greater that one would be foolish to turn down such an offer.

Let’s walk through Luke 14 together and note some principles of discipleship as Jesus brings this great concept into focus.

Verse 1: “And it came to pass, as He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on Sabbath Day, they watched him.” Wherever he went, the eyes of people were upon Him. He claimed to be different. He claimed to be the Author of a brand new way of life. He said, “I am come that they might have life, and they might have it more abundantly. “(John 10:10). Because of His claim to uniqueness, people watched His every move to see if He is genuine.

What was true for the Saviour In this respect is true for all godly people. The Christian or “Christ-one” is an ambassador of Jesus Christ. As His disciples, we claim to be in touch with reality; and consequently, the world watches us also.

Our Lord lived by principle, never by circumstance. As His disciples, do you live by circumstance or by principle? Your old car is giving you much trouble and you are going to trade it in to the dealer. The dealer asked you, “ what’s wrong with the car?” You now have the choice to live by principle or circumstance. Will you tell him the truth or lie about it? THE DISCIPLE IS ONE WHO IN EVERY AREA OF His life determines from the Bible what is right and lives it consistently rather than allowing circumstances to shape his conduct.

Verse 2: “And behold, there was a certain man before Him with a dropsy.” Jesus was constantly in touch with the needy. They were always “before Him”.  Seldom, if ever, in our Lord’s ministry did a person come for help and get turned down.

Another great principle of discipleship comes into focus for us. THE DISCIPLE IS ONE WHO IS IN CONSTANT TOUCH WITH PEOPLE IN NEED. As Jesus’ disciple, are you constantly meeting other people’s needs?

Verses 8 – 10: “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, …..” . Jesus uses the situation in the wedding feast to teach a principle. What Jesus is saying is to not take the seat of honor but occupy the last seat so that you will not be embarrassed when the host gives the seat of honor to a more important guest of honor.

An important lesson for the disciple emerges from these three verses: namely, that the COMMANDMENTS OF God ARE NEVER WHIMSICAL OR ARBITRARY BUT ARE DESIGNED FOR OUR BEST.  God is not in heaven thinking how to make the life of his creatures miserable. Instead, He is thinking of the guidelines He can give His children to teach them how to live to the fullest. God’s laws and commandments are designed to help us, not hinder us. They are meant to make us happy and fulfilled. If the disciple could learn this one lesson, many of life’s problems would be resolved.

Verse 11: “For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.”

The truth is that our appetites and innate desires – wanting to be exalted or to be first or to live or to be free or to be a leader – are not wrong in themselves but are God-created. They become wrong when we seek to satisfy or fulfill them in an unscriptural way.

What Jesus is saying is that the key to being first is being last; the key to living is dying; the key to being free is being Christ’s slave; the key to getting is giving; the key to being a leader is to be a servant; the key to being exalted is to live a life characterized by humility. Everybody wants to live, but nobody wants to die. Everybody wants to be free, but nobody wants to be a slave. Everybody wants to get, but nobody wants to give. This is precisely where we run in conflict with God.

God created the world. He made us. He made life. He made the rules by which we ought to live our lives. So often, we want the results that God promises, but we don’t want to pay the price. We cannot short-circuit God. In no way can a person get without giving or truly live without dying. A disciple is one who has learned this great truth and is living his life accordingly.

Verse 15 -24. “And when one of them that sat at meat with Him heard these things, he said unto Him, ‘Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.’…”

The parable of the Great Supper reveals that preoccupation with the insignificant makes it impossible to bring priorities into perspective. Becoming a Christian is free of charge. It costs the believer absolutely nothing. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast”(Ephesians 2:8-9).   But there is a cost attached to becoming a disciple. The cost is to become involved in God’s “thing” rather than our own. How easy it is for Christians to become preoccupied with his dreams, his aspirations, his own little deal, and miss God’s perfect plan for his life.

Rarely does the Spirit of God shout at a person. His voice usually comes in the form of an inner prodding (as the believer reads the Scriptures). THE DISCIPLE IS ONE WHO IS IN TUNE WITH THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

Verse 25: “And there went great multitudes with Him.”

Yes, multitudes have always followed Jesus. But who is it that hears Jesus Christ? “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him”(Luke 15:1). The multitudes followed Him, the publicans and sinners heard Him.

Christianity is a religion of rescue. It is designed for the desperate. It is for people who have a craving for something more than they can tweak out of life themselves. ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL REQUISITES FOR TRUE DISCIPLESHIP IS A SPIRIT OF DESPERATION THAT BURNS DEEP WITHIN THE SOUL.

Verses 26-33.   “If any man come to Me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sister, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. … So, likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be My disciple.”

Here what is being talked about is the willingness to renounce all other loyalties in preference to Jesus Christ.

Numbers 14 describes the Children of Israel when they were about to enter the promised land and 12 scouts were sent to assess the land they were about to occupy. Ten scouts gave an “evil report” saying the cost of entering the Promised Land is far too high because giants live there, the sons of Anak(Numbers 13:32-33). In a moment of terror, the people decided to turn back, with the excuse that the giants would kill their wives and children.

God never promised that there would be no giants. He simply promised that He would assume responsibility for their safe arrival in the Promised Land. But in their panic, the Hebrews hid behind their wives and children. One of the first signs of unbelief is an undue concern for the family.

To be a disciples of Jesus Christ, I must follow Him and do His bidding even when it appears that it will cost me my mother and my father, my wife (or husband), my children.

To better understand the cost of discipleship, Jesus used illustrations. Verse 28 describes a man starting to build a tower but not finishing it. Have you started something and not finish it?have you ever made a promise and failed to keep it? Have you ever made a vow and not fulfilled it? If so, Solomon has some words for you. “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven and thou upon earth. Therefore let thy words be few… When thou vow a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools; pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou should not vow, than that thou should vow and not pay”(Ecc. 5:2-5)

JESUS USED THIS KIND OF ILLUSTRATION TO EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF CAREFULLY COUNTING THE COST OF BEING A DISCIPLE BEFORE COMMITTING ONESELF. Don’t start something unless you are willing to finish it.   Note that Jesus said, “And is not able to finish it.” The ability to be a disciple is ours through the resources of Jesus Christ (2Peter 1:3); the only factor we need to add is that of our wills.

Verses 34-35: “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”(NASB)

The Parable of Savorless Salt is an illustration of the believer who refuses to be a disciple. It is God’s design that every believer be a disciple. But when one goes back on his commitment, he becomes good for nothing.  You can’t save him, he is already saved. You can’t use him, he is unavailable. He is like a savorless salt. Men throw it out.

IN PAYING THE PRICE FOR BEING CHRIST’S DISCIPLE, YOU MUST PURPOSEFULLY DESTROY ALL AVENUES OF RETREAT. Resolve in your heart today that whatever the price of being His follower, you are willing to pay it. Either that or send an ambassador and sue for peace.