Sunday, September 8th, 2019

Dying to Live: Making Disciples through Death & Resurrection

Luke 14:25–33


[25] Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, [26] “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. [27] Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. [28] For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? [29] Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, [30] saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ [31] Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? [32] And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. [33] So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.


Now that the crowds following Jesus are very large Jesus is discussing what is means to be his disciple or person following His teaching. We hear the word disciple in the new testament a lot, so Jesus answers the question to all those that seem to be following Him “what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? In answering this question, rather than speak in any “seeker-sensitive” or culturally relevant way, Jesus speaks about the cost of following Him in a way that isn’t popular or even culturally relevant. It is the opposite of what one would expect when you have drawn a huge crowd. Instead of playing to crowd and giving them what they want to hear, Jesus speaks about giving up everything, even father, mother, possessions and He speaks so clearly that we can’t misunderstand, in terms of the Law, what it means to be His follower, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33 In case you’re wondering what the Greek word for “all” in this text means, it actually means “all”. So that we have no doubt what Jesus is talking about in terms of our following Him and being His disciple, it is clear here that it is a total and complete, it involves our entire lives, with 100% abandonment of everything else and completely following Him all the way to the cross. IN fact this sounds an awful lot like what He will soon tell a young wealthy man in Luke 18 when that young man asks about attaining eternal life, so Jesus responds similarly, “


[20] You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” [21] And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” [22] When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” [23] But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. [24] Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! (Luke 18:20–24 ESV)


It gets even harder here in this text, when we listen closely, since Jesus ultimately speaks about dying. “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” In his famous book called The Cost of Discipleship, Deitrich Bonhoeffer a German Lutheran pastor during WWII in speaking of what the Bible says about following Jesus and being a disciple explains “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” If this is accurate, the question is, how can anyone be Jesus’ disciple? Again the answer is the same as how Jesus answers the young wealthy man in Luke 18, “What is impossible with man, is possible with God.”


When I was growing up in the Baptist church in Texas, we used to attend what were called discipleship classes. Usually they went something like this: You would attend a series of Bible studies or complete levels of booklets and age appropriate series of workbooks and then by the end of it, you were supposed to be at a new level or had progressed so that the next series of books would take you to the next level and then the next and so on. It was like going through levels of Christianity. Then later on, you could then train others or lead them through the same kind of thing. After years of what the churches I grew up would call “discipleship” you were supposed to have it figured out, problems fixed and a lot of language was thrown around, even what we called “testimonies” were shared and we were supposed to tell stories about how we used to do this and that, but now we’re doing something great or helpful and are no longer cussing as much, or drinking or gambling or whatever moral behavior was a problem, because of these classes and other spiritual disciplines, you were supposed to be good now or at least a lot better. The reality however was that I wasn’t getting any better, and people around didn’t seem to be any less sinners than before, but now were just sinners using more church language, or often shifting or trading one sin to another, from despair to pride and so on.

Jesus here in our Gospel text isn’t saying anything about classes, moral improvement, levels of disciples or giving this or anything of the sort. In the very center of our text Jesus doesn’t talk about moral improvement, but about dying. Again He says, ““Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Cross language is the language of dying, and this is what Jesus came to do, head to Jerusalem and die on a cross for your sins and mine. So if we are to follow Jesus truly, we go to die as well with Him. Death is the result of sin, not bad moral choices or moral lapses, but Original sin. This taints everything about us and is actually why we commit “sins”, because we are born sinners and the Scriptures teach that the “wages of sin is death.”. Jesus first told Adam & Even in the garden in Genesis 2:16–17


“[16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, [17] but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (ESV)


It is our Lord, who created the earth and all that is in it to be received, and enjoyed and yet when sin entered in we exchanged the gifts of God for gods themselves and as Paul says in Rom 1, “worshipped the created things rather than the Creator.” Due to our now fallen nature inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve, we, like them and all their descendants worship anything and everything but the One who made us and gives us all good things. IN other words, we are guilty of breaking the First commandment where we are told “You shall have no other gods” and then the remaining 9 that all flow from that first commandment.


The question again is, how can we be Jesus’ disciple if we’re dead and have nothing? We must remember that the good news of Jesus is predicated with the bad news about our condition. We are bring nothing to the equation except for sin and resistance. We are blind, poor and spiritually dead, but the Good News of the Gospel, however, is that Jesus, the one who was crucified, is also the ONE WHO IS RISEN.  It is our Lord Himself who brings His cross, His death to you and the power of His resurrection to you. For its Jesus who bared the cross for you, the penalty that you deserve for your sins, Jesus took upon Himself and He willingly went to the cross and died in your place, for your sins. Although you can’t go back in time and literally go to the cross, it is our Lord Himself who brings all that He won on that cross, where He defeated sin, death and the devil, He brings it to you. His victory is now yours by grace, through faith. It is our Lord Himself who baptizes both the helpless baby and you, so that now you are a baptized child of God who has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you. And the life you now live in the flesh you live by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave himself for you.” (Gal 2:20) (ESV) So it is accurate and surely true that to be a disciple of Jesus costs everything, but Jesus gave everything on Good Friday to you, so that even this very morning He speaks His word of forgiveness to you. As St. Paul puts it in Rom. 8:3–4 “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.” In other words God Himself does for you what you can’t do because of your sinful flesh. What is it that God has done for you? “He sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,” The Old Adam, your sinful flesh is now dead on the cross with Jesus “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, or in YOU, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” So the follower of Jesus, is the One walks by gift or grace, not by self-effort, but by receiving the Promise that on account of Jesus all your sin is forgiven. For, not only has Jesus died &risen for the forgiveness of your sins, but you are His, now and forever. To Him be the glory forever and ever.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.