Estimate the cost, Jesus said. I say, Thanks for coming when you can. Serve and do what you will. Give what you can. Jesus said give your life. Large crowds are a sign of success to me. To Jesus they were a cause for concern.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 14

Estimate the Cost! (Luke 14:25-35)

By Delbert Young

Audio

Estimate The Cost – Luke Luke 14:25-35

Scriptures: Luke 14:25-27, Romans 9:13, Genesis 29:31, Luke 16:13, Matthew 10:37-38, Luke 14:27, Luke 14:28-30, Luke 14:31-32, Luke 14:33, Luke 14:34-35, Luke 14:34-35

We have a great follow up from last weeks “All Alike Made Excuses.” Thursday night we were listening to someone share about how preachers should preach today. He said preaching should answer a question you have, solve some mystery, or release some tension. I think today’s lesson will do all three. Have you ever asked, “Exactly what does Jesus expect of me?” Have you ever thought, “It’s like a mystery concerning what I’m supposed to do concerning Jesus?” “If it was just spelled out I wouldn’t have this tension wondering if I was a real follower of Jesus Christ, or only playing the “Christian” game.” You might say, after I read today’s verses, “Forget that. I’ll just go to hell.”

Luke 14:25-27 LARGE CROWDS were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “IF ANYONE COMES TO ME and does not HATE his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE. And ANYONE who does not carry his cross and follow me CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.

You do realize if I was picking and choosing what I preached this passage would not be on the list. Jesus never seemed to appreciate large crowds. I dream of large crowds. Jesus always did something to upset crowds. I do everything I can to keep them. Jesus never made becoming a follower easy. I make it as easy as I can. I say, “Oh, thanks for coming when you can. Do what you will. Give what you can.” Jesus said give your life. To me, large crowds are a sign of success. To Jesus they were a cause for concern.

What Jesus expects from anyone is extreme and radical. He doesn’t want an emotional response stirred up by an arousing experience. As we will see shortly, being a disciple of Christ – a follower – is a fully thought through decision with serious deliberation. At first glance it would seem his demands are barriers to stop people from following. In reality, he made it extremely clear so NO ONE IS DECEIVED. He wants to remove all questions, mysteries, and tension. What Jesus said and expects is far different from “Recite this prayer after me,” isn’t it? We preachers make it a quick emotional decision, not Jesus. Jesus said it is a “narrow gate” and a “narrow way” where few will enter in (Mat 7:13, 14). He gives us a glimpse of just how narrow it really is and why only a few enter.

“But, Delbert, this “hate” stuff, what about honoring your father and mother (Exo 20:12)? What about loving your wife as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25)? What about loving our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mat 22:39)? What about loving our enemies (Luk 6:37) and the commandment Jesus gave to love one another as Jesus loves us (Joh 13:34)? How can Jesus say we must hate the ones who’ve loved us the most? I don’t understand this “hate” stuff.”

Jesus used a linguistic Hebraism – how Hebrews expressed themselves. For example, we use Americanisms: keep your eyes peeled, easy as falling off a log, go whole hog, get the hang of it, lame duck, face the music, pull the wool over their eyes, 24/7, fanny pack, I’m good with it, my bad, you do the math, drive through, etc. When Jesus said hate he doesn’t mean emotional loathing. It’s an expression of preference. For example,

Romans 9:13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I HATED.”

God wasn’t experiencing an emotional hatred for Esau. It was an expression of preference. God preferred to give his covenant promise through Jacob.

Genesis 29:31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was HATED, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

Jacob had two wives, Rachel and Leah. He didn’t detest Leah. Rather, he preferred Rachel. He preferred Rachel over Leah. He had children with Leah. Jacob took great care of Leah.

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters. Either he will HATE the one and love the other, or he will BE DEVOTED to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

One master has the preference. It doesn’t mean there is a psychological hatred toward one. When these two masters come into conflict one will always have preference and devotion. It’s impossible to serve both when the two conflict.

It’s a preference-hate when Jesus desires one thing of us, but our father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, even you desire something else. Our preference must be the desire of Jesus, or we are not disciples. If you do what Jesus desires, you express preference for him, you hate, according to Malachi (1:2), Paul, Moses, and Jesus, your family and yourself. How do you align is the question. It’s clear in Matthew 10.

Matthew 10:37-38 “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; and anyone who does not take his CROSS and follow me is not worthy of me.

Being a disciple of Jesus is about our life’s preferences. In Judy’s and my home, our family and extended family knew there was never a question. Everyone knew our preference. People knew how we would respond if asked to do something taking preference over what we knew Jesus wanted us to do. Jesus expects us to love no one or no thing the way we love him. Everything else becomes subordinate. So, what in your life is not subordinate to the desires of Jesus? When recognized you will know, there is your master(s).

Luke 14:27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

To what length does the “hate” preference go? It goes all the way to the cross – to the death – execution if necessary. Remember, the cross was not a religious icon to them. It meant horrific execution. In our society, we might make some people upset by making Jesus the preference. We may even suffer in our occupation, but in their Jewish society then and in the Muslim society today, being a disciple of Jesus Christ is grounds for execution. Frequently today people are executed because they truly are disciples of Jesus Christ. How do we align? How far could you go? Jesus says you must estimate the cost.

Luke 14:28-30 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first SIT DOWN AND ESTIMATE THE COST to see if he has enough money to COMPLETE it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to FINISH it, everyone who sees it will RIDICULE him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to FINISH.’

I love Jesus said, “estimate the cost.” This is all you can do. I promise you, following Jesus will take you over budget. It will cost way more than you expected, but you end with a tower of a life – the best life possible. Do you have any “unfinished projects?” I do. Seems I always have something I haven’t finished. Many of you remember the construction of what is called the “Toddler Class” today. We built it, sheet rocked it, painted it, and finished it except for about a 2′ piece of crown molding. We ran out of molding – poor planning – and the little piece of molding became a mockery and ridicule for what seemed to be years. It’s this way with Jesus.

This person takes on an honorable and large enterprise – build a tower, but if all he accomplished was the foundation he would be the ridicule of the community. He didn’t first estimate the cost. What is Jesus saying? Is he saying, “Try me out and see if you like me – try Jesus?” No! He says, don’t even attempt to be my disciple unless you first sit down and estimate the cost. Decide if you really have what it takes to finish. He warned us. Few enter in. It will not be easy. How many people do you know with half-built towers? These are people you know with half-built lives.

When I came to Jesus, I experienced what we would call “conviction” for several weeks, maybe months. I began reading the bible and I think I had finished Genesis and most of Exodus. I asked Christians a lot of questions finding most Christians can’t answer the questions of a seeker. Even after we began going to church, every single service, I still waited weeks before making a definite commitment. My decision was not emotional. When I think about it, I don’t recall anyone who made the decision to follow Jesus while emotional finish their tower. Jesus said estimate the cost.

Luke 14:31-32″Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

Israel has a long history of war so this illustration was relevant to them. Frequently, Israel’s kings were forced to determine if they could win a battle, or should surrender before costing the lives of thousands. No one knowingly would allow ten thousand people to die when there was another option. When we come against something formidable with massive implications for us and those we are responsible, we must process the battle before the battle begins.

Let’s make this as practical as possible. Has anyone ever overextended themselves in taking on debt you couldn’t pay? It affected you and your entire family for years possibly bringing bankruptcy? You didn’t estimate the cost? You made a very bad decision. You put your family in financial slavery. What affect will your following, or not following, Jesus have on those you are responsible?

Jesus said, ESTIMATE THE COST. We say, “Cost?! No one told me about any cost. I thought salvation was free by God’s grace? That’s true. The work was done. Forgiveness is free, but being a disciple costs everything. This is the largest and most important decision a person will ever make.

Luke 14:33 In the same way, any of you who does not GIVE UP EVERYTHING he has cannot be my disciple.

“Delbert, tell me that’s another one of those Hebraism things.” Does Jesus mean I need to sale everything, or give everything away I’ve worked for all my life? Not exactly. The Greek word translated “give up” is apotassomai {ap-ot-as’-som-ahee} – to set apart, separate, to separate one’s self, to renounce. Jesus isn’t calling for socialism. He’s calling for stewards. It means set your stuff aside. We are a steward of everything, but an owner of nothing. Everything I have is subordinate to the instructions of Jesus. I am to steward money, all my stuff, all my relationships, everything. What is there keeping me from doing this? Whatever it is has my heart, is my master, and I’m not a disciple. What, or who, holds your heart?

Luke 14:34-35 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Salt is good and essential to life. In their world with no refrigeration salt was the preservative. They used a lot of salt. Today a country ham is preserved by salt. In our day we purchase salt off the grocery store shelf. In their day it was taken from the Dead Sea and far from pure. Generally speaking, salt remains salty, but what do you do with impure salt with dirt and filth in it? If salt is contaminated what could they do with it? If thrown in the garden it will kill everything and ruin the soil. Manure was used for fertilizer, so it couldn’t be thrown in the manure pile. It was really good for nothing except to be thrown where people walked and didn’t want anything to grow.

The purpose for Israel was to be the salt of the earth. They were not and are not. Jesus said impure salt is thrown out. Israel is an example, but we are to be the salt now. How salty are we? How much of a preservative am I?

Luke 14:34-35 …”He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The words of Jesus when we hear them are frequently disturbing to our theologies and comfort zones. However, our goal is not to be undisturbed. Our goal is to know the truth. Jesus isn’t a salesman. He’s not trying to get as many people as possible to fill a chair, sign a membership card, raise their hand, or recite a prayer. He’s clear. Following him will cost you everything, but in the process you will build a tower of a life, make great decisions for those depending on you, you will be a preservative, and nothing will control your life except God. He holds your heart.

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