Theme: The Cost of Following Jesus
In this week leading up to Easter, we focus on an event that shows how Jesus would have received the crowds on Palm Sunday if they had truly come to him in faith and repentance.
Scripture: Luke 13:31-35
Now, if you come to the point where you understand the cost, even though you’re not willing to pay it, let me at least say that you have come a long way, and that’s a good thing. We have a kind of preaching of the gospel in our day that tries to minimize the cost. Those who do it certainly do their hearers no favor. They think what they want to do is make it sound so attractive that they’ll win a lot of converts. They may win a lot of people but conversion is another matter. Jesus Christ didn’t minimize it. He explained the cost, and if you’ve come to see that there is a cost, well that is a very valuable thing.
What you have to go on to see is that it’s a cost that you would be very wise to pay. What is the cost? You have to give up your sin. You can’t follow after Jesus Christ and be continuing in the way of sin at the same time. That may be hard because sin has a hold on you. You say, “I don’t want to give it up.” You have to. Let’s be very clear about that up front. Let’s also say at the same time that in place of your sin what you will receive is Christ’s righteousness, which is a far greater thing. Sin will destroy you but the righteousness of Jesus Christ will take you into heaven.
You say, “Is there anything else I have to give up?” Yes, there is. You have to give up pride in your own good works. That’s a barrier to many people. They want God to acknowledge the good they’ve done even though it’s contaminated by their sin. It’s very hard to give up your pride. If you do it, you will find that God will apply the only perfect work of Jesus Christ in His atonement to your account. More than that, He’ll begin to work in you by His Spirit to do things that now you couldn’t even believe you were capable of doing, things that bring glory to Him that He has ordained for you to do before the foundation of the world.
You have to give up your plans for your own life. If Jesus is to be your master He’s going to direct you. You say in response, “Well, that’s hard to do.” Yes, it may be, but He has a far greater plan for you. That’s what you receive in exchange. The will of God for your life, according to Romans 12:2, is “good, pleasing and perfect.” And not only good, pleasing and perfect to God, but also to you.
Here’s the final thing you have to give up. You have to give up the world’s friendship. The world has a great hold and it’s attractive as it presents itself. You can’t be a friend of the world and a friend of Jesus, too. If you’re willing to pay that price then you’ll find that Jesus will be your friend, and not only will He be a friend but He’ll be a perfect friend, one that sticks closer than any husband or wife, or mother or father, or brother or sister could ever do. That’s the bargain, you see. You don’t earn your salvation by anything you do. It’s a free gift but it comes at the cost of everything, as Jesus said.
Well, let me suggest another thing that may be a barrier, certainly it was in Jesus’ day. It’s true that the people were busy, and it’s true that some at least understood what he was talking about and, therefore, understood the cost, but they may well have said, “That isn’t the chief problem. The chief problem I have is I don’t like Him. I don’t like His character. I resent who He is and what He stands for,” just as today men and women resent God if they ever stop to really think about Him.
I’ve sometimes pointed this out when we’ve been talking about other passages of the Bible, that whatever characteristic of God you highlight, if you really see yourself in your sinful condition, apart from the grace of God in your heart and the power of the Holy Spirit, you will resent God for that characteristic. His sovereignty is one characteristic men and women hate. His sovereignty means that He is king and therefore rules. That is very much a part of this story of Palm Sunday, because when Jesus went into Jerusalem that day he was entering as a king, though riding upon a donkey rather than upon a war horse. He was a humble king coming to his people, but a king nevertheless.
From the lesson, what four things must we give up if we would be a Christian?
We have already talked about the barrier of claiming to be too busy and of not wanting to pay the price of discipleship. What is perhaps the main barrier that is given?
Reflection: Even as Christians, we can still struggle with barriers to obedience, or be drawn to things we need to give up. What in your life needs to change in order to be a better disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ?