English Standard Version (ESV)
The Cost of Following Jesus57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him,“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said,“Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Barriers to True Discipleship
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus Before All
Accompanying Matt Chandler sermon: Perplexed
Jesus does not sugar coat the gospel message. He doesn't make it easy to accept salvation. He doesn't try to create some emotional environment so someone will "make a decision" that they don't even understand.
Becoming a Christian is simple, but it is so not easy.
The issue here is salvation, people. ... It's about coming into the Kingdom. And Jesus is simply saying to these people, "Look, if you're holding back anything, you can't come in. Salvation is for those who have come to complete self-denial." The Lord may not take away all your comfort. He may not take away all your possessions. He may not take away all your relationships. But you're not negotiating. You're simply saying the infinite value of the gospel of Jesus Christ is so great that if He asks, I'll give it all up. I'll give it all up.
So responding properly to Christ is not a matter of emotion. It's not a matter of an event. It's not a matter of a momentary acceptance or decision. It is not some superficial interest. It is not even a matter of saying I will follow. It is a matter of self-denial, total self-denial, a willingness to give up everything because the value of Christ is so infinite. The sinner has reached that level of desperation by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He who doesn't take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of Me, Jesus said. He who has found his life shall lose it. He who has lost his life for My sake shall find it. It's about losing your life. It's about hating yourself. It's about holding on to nothing. It's a Beatitude attitude....
When Jesus invited someone to come into His Kingdom, when Jesus invited someone to receive His forgiveness and salvation, He asked that person for the rest of his life. He didn't want a moment. He didn't want the emotion of a moment. He wanted a carefully thought out understood commitment of a lifetime. Repentance from sin, confession of Jesus as Lord, obedience from the heart to the Word and the Spirit was for life. And there was always that emphasis in the ministry of Jesus. He disdained the short-term disciple. He made things so difficult for many would-be disciples that, for example, in the sixth chapter of John it says, "Many of His disciples walked no more with Him." The standard was just too high. What was required was too demanding.A watered down gospel is no gospel at all.
We need to choose Jesus over comfort, Jesus over security, Jesus over family, Jesus over "what could have been", Jesus over our past, Jesus over everything. He may not ask us to give up all of those things, but we have to be willing to do so.
Chandler also adds some great thoughts on his sermon. Jesus does not ever preach a prosperity gospel, not ever. And this passage in particular drives that point home. (Sorry, this is a little long, but it's really good)
My problem with the prosperity gospel and what I hope is resonating with you this morning is that it’s everyone’s hope but it’s no one’s reality. Has coming to church made you impervious to difficulty, pain, sorrow and frustration? Has coming to church made any of you super wealthy? Let me tell you who it makes wealthy. The guys who spew on you that you should be wealthy if you would love God enough. And then they use their own lives as examples. “Look at my 72 bedroom mansion. Look at my private jet. Do you know how I got that? Faith.” No, you got that by lying to widows and stealing their money. So the reason why I hammer on that stuff is because it’s so untrue. And if you buy into it, you’re going to have the rug pulled out from underneath you. Because God fearing, Holy Spirit filled men and women of faith die at 40 and leave their 2nd graders behind, and their marriages get hard, and their kids go crazy for seasons, and they lose their jobs, and sometimes they just get by, and sometimes they wake up in the middle of the night and doubt whether or not they’re saved, and sometimes they just don’t want to come to church that morning....
At some point, you’ve got to look at what life is and stop creating this imaginary fairy-tale that’s not in the Scriptures, and you’ve got to engage truth. And truth is that you and I, beloved by God, are at times going to bleed and we’re going to get confused and we’re not going to understand what He wants from us and we’re going to have our faith tested and life’s going to play out in different ways than we want it to....
So how do we live in light of that? Because we know He’s good. Here are some things. It’s why we so desperately need each other. It’s why how we do church in the Bible Belt where you attend and listen to a sermon but aren’t connected to other Christians is so devastating.....The body has been given to us for this purpose, that we live in a fallen world. It’s broken, and no man has been gifted by God with the power to sustain wave after wave after wave after wave. It’s why Hebrews says do not neglect the gathering of the saints and encourage one another daily. It’s so you don’t get hard. We need each other.
Alright, let me throw this one out at you. This one is not going to be popular. Some of you are not going to come back because of this...which is good because we need the seats. I feel like I’m going to catch and e-mail on that one. Let me throw this out to you. What if you and your life are not the center of history? What if you are not the sun around which all other planets rotate? What if you are a part of the greatest drama/adventure the universe will ever know, but you’re not the star of the play? What if your life goes beyond you and plays into something bigger than you? You can’t deny the fact that you’re temporary and that you’re ignorant. Me too. Let me show you. Six months from today at 3:00, what are you doing? Who are you hanging out with? What are you guys having for lunch? Some of you are like, “I don’t know what I’m having for lunch today.” But who does? Do you realize the billions of tiny details that had to be brought about to even get you in this room this morning? And you are aware of few of them. You think you’re here because your spouse pestered you into this place or your neighbor pestered you into this place or this is just what you do. You think you’re in here for those reasons. Did you know that we moved from San Francisco, California to Galveston, Texas, and within just a few months of us moving there, a guy begins to share the gospel with me? Did you know that the book of Isaiah says that God moves a man from here to here for the purposes of God? We moved because the military saw fit to move my father. But could it be that God was moving him because I had an appointment with salvation? I don’t know. I’m just throwing that out there. All I knew was that I was moving from the Bay Area, which is kind of attractive aesthetically, to Galveston, which is kind of not. I moved from friends and connections to none. You just can’t see what God’s doing. So maybe He’s accomplishing His will. And let me just put this out there. Could it be that your joy as well as your suffering is being used by God not only in you, but in those around you to accomplish the purposes of God?....
what if your suffering wasn’t just all about you? What if God’s accomplishing other things? What if death isn’t the worst thing ever? What if we believed that one day all that is dark will be pushed back and the new heaven and the new earth will be established and all of the deepest sorrows will make sense and it will come together like this beautiful stained glass window where here all we saw was jagged glass? And then it all makes sense? And then we see the picture? See, I think we have to have an eternal mindset. I think you have to have kingdom eyes. And if you don’t see that, you’re going to get sucked in. And when life is all about you, religiously you will sky rocket when things are well into self-righteousness, and when things are not well, you will plummet to self-pity. Which is why when everything is going well for you, you don’t understand why it can’t go well for everybody else. “Well, they just lack faith” or “You need to come to church with me. It’s working for me.” And it’s why when things go bad, people tend to wallow in self-pity. “Poor me. I just can’t figure it out. Maybe I’m not elect. God hates me.” And that’s what happens when it’s all about you. And I really believe that this is one of the things that retards our faith. “It’s my faith, my growth, my relationship, where I am, what I feel, where I struggle, where I do well...” And that’s that rugged individualism that’s just American Christianity. It’s not biblical Christianity. It’s why Paul goes, “I’ve been rich, I’ve been poor, I’ve been sick, I’ve been healthy. God’s good.” It’s why Job goes, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return. The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” By the way, that’s right after all seven of his children die, all his wealth is taken from him and all he’s left with is a nagging wife. And then I always want to push this on you. You have to always keep at the forefront of your mind that you’re not under wrath, but that you’re under mercy if you’re children of God. Which means everything that befalls your life is the mercy of God. And I know it’s easy to go, “I don’t know about that.” But what would be more merciful than you getting sick and having the life squeezed out of you and in it knowing Jesus Christ really deeply, or God giving you health to 103 and never letting you see Him or know Him? Which is the mercy of God if you’re looking at this thing in regards to eternity and not your little 30-70 years?...
you have not been abandoned. God is working. He has not lost control. I pray that He give you a community to mourn with and that He give you eyes to see beyond yourself. Let’s pray. “Father, I pray for these men and women, and I thank You for the truth of these Scriptures that we covered today. I pray that You would give us the faith to follow even when it’s frustrating and even when we don’t understand and even when we wish you would have played it differently. Father, I do pray that You would give us eyes to see just beyond us, that we would be able to see both our joy and our sorrow corporately, what You’re accomplishing in your church, what You’re accomplishing in the lives around us or maybe what You’re making us wait for while You set up other things. We do place our hope and trust that one day there will be no more of this and it will all make sense. Until then, help us. It’s for your beautiful name. Amen.”
Monday's scripture focus: Luke 10:1-4
Sunday's passage: Nehemiah 13
Monday's passage: Esther 1-2. Psalm 134, 2 Corinthians 6
It IS long, but really good and something that I needed to read! I find myself so often rolling my eyes when people talk about prosperity gospel, health and wealth gospel (whatever you want to call it) like that is the way Jesus meant His Kingdom to look, to be, but I find myself taking on the same attitude when things are difficult. Somehow I have the gall to ask, "why don't you bless ME? Why does my life have to be so hard?...SO not the way I wanted and planned for it to be??" Deep down inside I KNOW He has a plan for me, no matter what is happening in my life-easy OR difficult- and that it is for HIS good purpose...and ultimately for mine too...no matter how hard that outcome is to visualize.
I definitely need to be reminded (regularly) that even my own life is not about me. The funny thing is that I am happier and more at peace when I am focused outward on helping others and not fixing what's "wrong" with my own life (or my perception of what's wrong with it), and yet I forget that over and over again.
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