September 04, 2016

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Proverbs 9:8-12

Epistle Lesson; Philemon 1:1

                          Philemon 1:10-21

Sermon Text; Luke 14:25-33

The Word of God we look at for today is taken from Luke chapter 14, looking at verses 25 through 33.

Now great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, “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. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 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? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 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? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

This is God's Word.

Let's say it was my desire to climb Mt. Everest (Just as a side-note, it is not my desire to climb Mt. Everest, but let's just say it was my desire.) Do you know what the cost involved would be to climb Mt. Everest? I did some research, and the amount most websites say is about $70,000.00. That is the cost involved in climbing Mt. Everest.

I don't have that kind of money. So, let's say someone said, “Pastor Tweit, we will pay that amount for you. We will pay $70,000.00 for you. That includes everything, from the round-trip plane ticket there and back, the cost for the base camp, the cost for the permits, the cost for the gear, the cost to get the guide, and the cost to get the sherpas to carry all of your stuff. Everything involved - $70,000.00!”

But, there also is a commitment. You need two months commitment, to climb Mt. Everest. You have to go there. You need to have your body acclimate at the base camp to the altitude.

So, there is not only a cost involved, but there is also a commitment involved.

And oh, by the way, there is no guarantee I am coming down from that mountain alive. There are people who try to attempt to climb Mt. Everest, who die in the process of doing it.

Now, in my example, the cost would be free, right, because someone else is paying the cost for me? And yet, consider the commitment. Consider the fact that it could cost me my very life, even though it was free.

Having considered that, that is really what Jesus wants all believers to stop, pause, and consider, as we look at our text for today. When Jesus spoke these words, He was at the height of His popularity. We might say people were jumping on the bandwagon. They wanted to be followers of Jesus. But, He stops, and speaks these very blunt, harsh words to the people who were there with Him that day.

There are some words, and some phrases I want to pull out of our text for today, for us to really consider.

“What is the cost,

and what is the commitment

to being a believer in Jesus, as your Savior?”

The first word I want you to think about is the word 'hate'. It is a pretty harsh word Jesus uses here. He says,

“You need to hate your mom and dad. You need to hate your spouse and children. You need to hate your brothers and sisters. You even need to hate yourself, otherwise you cannot be my disciple.”

Now, that word 'hate' seems pretty harsh there, doesn't it? And yet, it is really no different from what Jesus had said in another portion of scripture, when He said, in Matthew, chapter ten,

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me

is not worthy of me.

Anyone who loves his son or daughter than me

is not worthy of me.”

What Jesus is really saying here is He is reiterating what The First Commandment says,

“You shall have no other gods.”

As we say in the explanation, “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things”, God wants to be number one in our life. Jesus wants to be number one in our life. Then, every other thing, every other person, even our self, can come after that.

We have somebody we visit, as pastors, on a monthly basis. She is not a member, but we go, and visit with her, because she loves hearing about Jesus, her Savior.

I was there recently visiting with her. She said her son, who had lived with her for a couple of months, had left to go back out to the west coast. Here was the reason he gave. He left, because he couldn't stand “the toxic, Christian, environment” his mom was living in. You see, she loved to read about Jesus, her Savior. She loved to hear about Jesus, her Savior. And, he couldn't take that. He couldn't stand it. And so he moved out and left.

And so, here was a mother who loved her son, but she also recognized Jesus was number one in her life, and he couldn't take that. She is a good example of the cost involved. She is a good example of the commitment involved in being a follower, and a disciple of Jesus.

A great example from scripture is Abraham, and Isaac. God told Abraham it would be through his son, Isaac, that the Messiah would come. God told that to Abraham, when he was 75 years old.

The promise came true, 25 years later.

When Isaac was a teenager, what does God tell Abraham to do? He tells him to kill his son, the son through whom Jesus is coming.

Abraham was getting ready to kill his son, Isaac, when God stops him. What did God recognize? He recognized that to Abraham, God was number one in his life, and his son was underneath that. His son was number two.

And so here, Jesus is not saying, “Don't like your family”. That is not what He is saying. But, Jesus is saying, “Put me first in your life. Your family can come after that.”

After funerals, here at Holy Cross, when we go the cemetery for The Committal Service, one of the portions of scripture we may read is from John, chapter 12, in which Jesus talks about this very thing – hating and loving. He says,

“The man who loves his life, will lose it”.

So, if you put yourself, your family, and other people in front of Jesus, you will lose your life.

But then, Jesus goes on, and says,

“The one who hates his life in this world

will keep it for eternal life.”

As we think about the cost, and commitment of being a disciple, or a follower of Jesus, Jesus needs to be number one in our life.

Another thing Jesus says in our text for today is we need to bear our cross. If we are not willing to bear our cross, we cannot be a disciple of Jesus. Now, what does Jesus mean by that? What He means is that believing in Jesus, as your Savior, Jesus now wants full commitment in a life of humility to Him. And, because you believe in Jesus, as your Savior, there may be some crosses you need to bear.

There might be opposition from other people in the world. It may be things from the outside, but there may be opposition from within ourselves. Our sinful, human nature doesn't want to take a backseat. Our sinful, human nature wants to rise to the top and say, “I want to be number one”.

We may need to bear a cross, as we believe in Jesus, as our Savior. Some wonderful words the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians, chapter three, verses seven through eleven. You talk about somebody who bore a cross because he believed in Jesus as his Savior, it was Paul. And yet, consider what he says about bearing this cross for Jesus. He says,

“Whatever was to my profit,

I now consider loss, for the sake of Christ.

And, what is more, I consider everything a loss

compared to the surpassing greatness

of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord,

for whose sake I have lost all things.

I consider them rubbish,

that I may gain Christ

and be found in Him,

not having a righteousness of my own that comes from The Law,

but that which is through faith in Christ,

the righteousness that comes from God,

and is by faith.

I want to know Christ

and the power of His resurrection

and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings,

becoming like Him in His death.

And so, somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

A cross he bore, because of his faith in Jesus, as his Savior, and a cross we need to bear from within, or without, through our faith in Christ.

Warning and encouragement for us, today. I am going to share two.

       -Some of our youth are going off to college. This is like 'move in week', right now. There are many youth going off to college, and many parents taking their youth to college. Here is a warning, and an encouragement. Public universities where we send our kids off to will do everything they can to rob our children's faith in Jesus, as their Savior. They tried to do it to me, so we shouldn't be surprised when they try to do it with our youth. And so, just a warning to everybody. Professors, and universities will try to do that.

And, an encouragement. Have them stay connected to you, to a local church where they are going to school, to a local campus ministry, so that they can be strengthen in their faith, in Jesus, as their Savior.

       -To those who are thinking about getting married. The person you are thinking about getting married to is either going to draw you closer to Jesus, or they are going to pull you away from your faith in Jesus. So, consider the warning and the encouragement. The person we want to get married to is one who is going to draw us closer to Christ, and not pull us away from Him.

Jesus now shares with us two examples in our text of building a tower, and going off to war.

       -Just think of that example of building a tower. If you build a tower, you should count the cost, so you don't get half way through the project, and not have enough funds to complete that tower.

There are many examples in the world of projects that were begun, but were never finished. I was thinking about two this past week. Did you know that in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, there is a subway system that has never been used? One hundred years ago, the city of Cincinnati, Ohio began building an underground, subway system, with stations, but it has never been used. They started the project. The cost was more than double what they had initially thought. It is still there, but it is abandoned. Many people in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio make fun of their own town, because of the project that was started, but never completed.

Back in the early days of the rise of the German power, Adolph Hitler began to build a stadium, which in English is known as The German Stadium. He wanted to have his own, personal Olympics, The Aryan Games. And so, he started to build this magnificent, Roman Coliseum. But, it was never finished. There are just a couple pillars there. And, there is one wall that is crumbling, and falling apart. Another project that was begun, but never finished.

Here I am going to put in a little, “Thank you”.

       -I am so thankful to the REDI (Relocation Early Childhood Development Initiative) Committee, here at Holy Cross.

       -And, I am so thankful to the members of Holy Cross for all of the work that was done in building our new building, all the planning that went in to it, all of the design that went into it, all of the thought and financing, and, the Performa to make sure that what we started, we were able to complete!

As Jesus talks to us about beginning our life of faith, He doesn't want us to just begin our life of faith in Him, but he wants us to finish our life in Him. As the book of Isaiah says in Isaiah 28,

“I lay a stone in Zion,

a tested and precious cornerstone

for a sure foundation (that is Jesus).

The one who trusts in Him will never be dismayed.

The faith that is begun in Christ,

Jesus wants us to complete and finish in Christ.”

Or, Jesus uses the example of going off to war. Let's say you are going off to war with 10,000 soldiers, and the one opposing you has 20,000 soldiers. What would be the best thing to do there? Well, to send a delegation ahead, and to agree to terms of peace. Now, that doesn't mean to give up there, but it means to be wise in your fighting the good fight of faith.

On another occasion, after hearing something very similar to this, people came to Jesus and asked, “Who can be saved?” As you hear difficult things like this in our text for today, “Who can be saved?”

Here is Jesus' response,

“With men these things are impossible,

but with God

all things are possible.”

I can't pay the price to get to Heaven. I don't have the commitment to get to Heaven on my own. And you have to say the same thing. You can't pay the cost, and you don't have the commitment on your own.

When we say The Explanation to The Third Article of The Apostle's Creed, we recognize that.

“I believe that I cannot

by my own reason, or strength

believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord,

or come to Him.

But, the Holy Spirit has called me by The Gospel...”

We come to that point of despair, when we realize we can't do this on our own. We can't pay the cost. We don't have the commitment. But, somebody paid the cost for us. And, somebody laid out the commitment for us. That is our Savior, Jesus.

What is free to you, and to me was a cost of great price that our Savior, Jesus paid. It was with His holy and precious blood that He paid the price, when He died on the cross. Jesus paid the costs for you, and for me.

Now, Jesus asks that you, and I, have this commitment too, not to just jump on the bandwagon, and join the crowd, while Jesus is at the height of His popularity, but as we start our life of faith in Him, to finish our life of faith on Him.

And so, think about it this way. Whenever we give up everything, we gain everything. Whenever we give up everything for Jesus, we gain everything. And so, with all of these pressures from without, and with all of these pressures from within, Jesus says,

“Consider the cost. Consider the commitment.” Jesus did everything that is necessary for your salvation, and for my salvation.

I am going to close with the last verse from our text for today in verse 33. Jesus reiterates how He began this. In English He said,

“...any one of you

who does not renounce all that he has

cannot be my disciple.”

The Greek word there, for 'renounce' is 'apotassetai'. It simply means 'to renounce', 'to forsake', 'to say good bye to'. Sometimes, it is hard 'to say good bye to', 'to renounce', and 'to forsake' those things that are so precious to us in this life But, Jesus encourages us to renounce those things, so that He can be number one in our life. He paid the cost. It is free to us. So, let us have this commitment to be disciples, followers, and believers in Jesus, as our Savior.