Are you sure you want to follow Jesus?
I had the privilege to preach this past weekend here at the Summit. I preached a sermon titled “Follow Me” through Luke 9.57-62 which I found to be a uniquely convicting passage for me. It was convicting because Jesus shatters some common routines I tend to fall into as a part of the churched culture. Below is a summary.
Jesus encounters three people in this passage, each of whom claim to want to follow him. That’s right. These are all people who say yes to Jesus. I fully expect him to say “awesome man, glad to have you in the group, let me introduce you to the guys. here’s Peter, he will get you set up here. That’s andrew, & over there are the two pyro-disciples James & John (read vv51-56).” But instead he cautions them. When they say yes, he responds basically with “are you sure?”
In responding to them he confronts each one of them with what they would have to give up to follow him. With the things they might actually value more than following him. The Old Testament calls these things “idols.” And we all have them.
- For the Student, he challenges his need for security, both financially and relationally. Jesus has no home. He is rejected. And to follow him is to follow him into rejection. to death on a cross. Are you sure you can do that? Can you stomach a life of poverty if that is where following Jesus takes you? Can you handle rejection by the group of friends you are in right now?
- For the Good Guy, he challenges his submission to the traditions and expectations of those around him. This Guy wants to be the stand up, responsible guy. But he is so consumed by his traditions, and by the expectations of those around him, he cannot take a step of obedience to follow Jesus. Sadly, his religious traditions keeps him from obeying God himself. Honoring expectations of mom & dad keep him from obeying God. Sound familiar? This one really convicted me.
- To the Consumer, he challenged the control he is trying to have over his life. Both he and Christ cannot be Lord. That is to follow Jesus half-way. And listen The most exhausting way to follow Jesus is half-way. because you are trying to have one foot in life, and one in death. I see too many Christians who are burnt out on Christianity and largely this is why. They are trying to live in two worlds. The control of your life, of every area, belongs to one person. Jesus or You. who is it? Only the person who releases control of his life to Jesus finds the freedom and joy Christ promises. The half-way Christian life is truly miserable. The first call Christ makes to the Christian is to abandon attachment to this world.
In all three of these encounters Luke is trying to show us a few of things:
- Jesus Knows Your Idols. Everyone has idols that compete for the top spot in your life. For these guys they were not bad things. Stability, traditions, family. These are all good things. But Luke puts them all here to show us that when a good thing becomes a God thing, it’s a bad thing.
- Faith without obedience is not faith. In his famous work The Cost of Discipleship Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about the two types of Grace. Cheap & Costly Grace. Cheap grace is grace that costs you and I very little. It is a verbal and mental assent to the gospel message. An agreement with Christ that is not followed by steps of obedience. Cheap grace, bonhoeffer says, is the deadly enemy of the church and I couldn’t agree more. Costly grace is the understanding of grace that is accompanied by absolute surrender and obedience to Christ. In speaking of costly grace he says “Grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”
We Must Set Our Face to the Cross. In this Journey Luke is talking about, Jesus has set his face to Jerusalem. His path is to the cross. And the ONLY way it is possible to obey Christ’s command to “Follow Me” is if you dwell in the riches of calvary. The command “Follow Me” is the hardest and greatest thing to obey at the same time. It’s the hardest because the “follow” means you give up rights to your life. Christian growth, ive been told, is as simple as continually realizing the width of the gap between the holiness of God and the depravity of your sin. Which means the cross keeps getting bigger and bigger in your eyes and heart as you worship the man who hung on a tree for you. As Hebrews 12.2 says – FIX your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. We say all the time here the only way to move forward with Christ is to move deeper into the Gospel. The news of the God man rejected from the time he was born to the time he hung on a tree. Rejected for us. He demands our life in response. plain and simple.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship (SCM Press Ltd, 1959) 45.