What do we need to know before following Jesus?
Reading: Luke 14: 25-33
Props: half done picture, building and so forth, one chopstick
Blanks: disciple, cross, money, complete, finish, able, everything
There was a person who loved to start something.
So he started many things.
But he never finished it.
He finished only about the half.
Then he stopped and started something new.
For example, he wanted to be a sportsman.
So he worked hard on it for a long time.
Then he gave up.
Then he wanted to be an artist.
He studied and worked hard on it.
Then he stopped and changed his direction.
It is like this:
When he prepares a meal, he cooks only the half.
His noodle is half cooked.
His soup is half cooked.
His vegetables are half cooked.
Everything is like this.
When he prepares the table, he puts one chopstick for each person.
That is really irritating.
He drives everybody crazy.
So people could not trust him.
Jesus talked about this kind of person:
This person started to build something new.
He laid the foundation and so on.
Then he realized he didn't have enough money.
So, he left his unfinished building in his town.
Then his neighbors were like:
“What a waste of money!
Didn’t he know whether he had enough money?
Didn’t he know the cost beforehand?
If he understood the cost, he could have built something smaller.
He could have finished what he had started.”
Why would Jesus tell this kind of story?
At that time, there were some people wanted to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus for a couple of days could be fun.
But they wanted to be his disciples.
They wanted to live like Jesus.
So Jesus wants them to understand what was like to follow him.
Jesus told them something like this:
“I ask everything, as I give my everything.
I'm asking you to give yourself to me as I give myself to you.
Then you'll be happy with me.
That is how my disciples live:
My disciples love me more than their father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters and even their own life.
My disciples carry their cross and follow me.”
Jesus might have wanted to say to some of them:
“If you want to be my disciples, you may need to give up something.
You may need to give up something because you love me.
Meaning, you cannot love your success more than me.
You cannot love your reputation more than me.
You cannot love your friends more than me.
"You need to love me more than yourself.
You need to love me more than your family.
You need to love me more than your church.
You need to use your time, money, energy, mind, heart, and prayer for me.
Otherwise, you are like the guy who finished only the half.
Jesus wanted them to think about and understand:
What is like to follow Jesus daily?
What is like to follow Jesus for all the days of their life?
What is like to follow Jesus all the way to the end?
“Following me also means if someone hurts your feelings, or wrongs you, you still act like me.
You pray for your enemy.
You bless them.
You pray to help them.
You patiently pray for them.
You ask me to help you to love them.
You pray to understand them and be able to sympathize with them.
You forgive them and care for them.
Through prayer, you support them to live in the right way.
You pray that I may help you to love them in the power of the Holy Spirit.
You pray that you may live peacefully with them.
You pray and welcome them.
“If you say, ‘I give up because it is too difficult.’
Then, you are not my disciple.
Otherwise, other people may say:
‘You give up now?
Didn’t you know what was like to follow Jesus in the first place?’”
Jesus may continue saying:
“Following me means you also go where I lead you.
I am asking you to listen to me and obey.
I am asking you to follow me, even when it is not good and convenient.
You follow me even when your friends do not understand.
You follow me even when your Christian friends do not understand.
Do you think you have enough faith to follow me?
Do you think you love me enough to follow me?
Do you want to pray to follow me thinking of eternity?”
“Then follow me at home.
Follow me at your street corners and marts.
Follow me at school and in your neighborhood.
That's what it's like to follow me.
Do you want to follow me?”
We know that some may come to church to explore what Christianity is all about.
Some may come to church thinking that it is like a social club.
Some may come like that before they get to know Jesus.
But then someday some may start to pretend to follow Jesus.
Then Jesus may ask them:
“Now do you understand me enough to follow me?
Do you understand the cost of following me?
If you understand, I could call you my true disciples.
If you understand, you may commit your life to me.”
When they understand, they may love God and follow God in the power of the Holy Spirit of Jesus.
They may know the cost of following Jesus and follow Jesus.
Knowing that there are those who try to do what God asks them gives me joy and encouragement.
What a joy to know that there are those who follow Jesus!
God loves them and cares for them.
God gives what is best for them so that they live in joy experiencing God’s blessed rest.
But then there are this kind of people.
They always overcommit.
They commit more than what is asked for.
They may be like this:
When they prepare a meal, they overcook everything.
When they prepare the table, they put too many chopsticks and spoons. People could not trust them.
Some people are overzealous for Jesus.
If you think about, at first, many of his first disciples were like that.
John and James were like that when they stopped those who cast out demons in the name of Jesus because they didn’t follow them.
John and James wanted to destroy a Samaritan village, because they thought that they were rude to Jesus.
They wanted to sit in the right and left of Jesus’ throne.
If Jesus didn’t stop their overenthusiasm, they could have done things just because they thought it was good idea.
Peter was like them when he wanted to protect Jesus from his crucifixion.
Peter wanted to lead Jesus into his “right” way.
Jesus had to deal with his overenthusiasm as he could have tried to lead Jesus into a difficult situation by doing what Jesus was not asking him to do.
Judas Iscariot even pushed Jesus into a situation because Judas thought that Jesus would show up his power.
Some thought that that is why Judas betrayed Jesus.
Then he miserably failed because he didn’t understand Jesus and his life.
Many have wasted their efforts following their idea instead of following Jesus.
Meaning, overenthusiasm or overzealousness does not help.
Overenthusiasm means some may act out of pride, competitive spirit, hate, hurt, anger, or some kind of unhealthy emotion.
Other people may not notice at first.
Or it may appear to be good.
But they might have done things in their way.
God searches all hearts and examines secret motives.
So God may ask them:
“What is your motive?
Why do you do what you do?
Your motive is important:
I want your heart to be right with me.”
Jesus served God with pure motives:
God’s love motivated Jesus to do God’s works.
Jesus served God and people out of pure love.
So in order to help people understand, God asks us to follow Jesus.
When we listen to Jesus, and discern his will for our life, we learn to live with with pure motives.
As we follow him and understand to live like Jesus, we may live with pure motives.
We may speak Jesus’ holy words and live his holy life.
Then we may encourage others to do God’s works with pure motives.
Many people failed in their attempt to calculate what the Messiah should do.
When Jesus was young and overzealous, he might have not understood either.
But later, Jesus understood his own calling and the right price to pay:
He understood everything about God.
Jesus was able to see what God was doing in heaven.
Then Jesus understood what God requires exactly.
He prayed many years to understand the exact price for this:
How much should he pay so that God may save us from our sin so that we may do what God wants?
After he understood, he must have thought about whether he could pay the price.
He thought about whether he could finish his task.
Then he pay the price: he began his ministry and finished his ministry.
Jesus offered his life for God’s greater cause.
In order to do that, Jesus gave up marriage, home, and biological family.
Jesus focused on God and did only what God was doing in heaven.
Jesus understood and did everything including what he didn’t like to do.
In order to serve God, we need to understand what Jesus really did.
We need to understand why Jesus died for us.
Why did Jesus have to die for us to save us?
Were we that bad who required this kind of savior?
Anyway, Jesus provided how God would live in this world.
When people understand his story, they understand God.
So through his life, Jesus helps people understand the living God and become like God.
This knowledge has been used to save many people.
Jesus also opens the door of heaven in his name and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
So now we may worship God in the name of Jesus.
God may help our hearts to be right with God.
Then we may serve God in Jesus’ way.
We may pray and worship God in the right way.
Jesus frees us to do what God wants us to do.
This is what Jesus got after paying the price of the cross.
Then Jesus has a new God’s family who listens to God and obeys God.
When we understand Jesus, we may understand the right price for following Jesus.
We may understand and pay the exact price to follow Jesus.
We may not pay more or less:
We may pay the exact price to follow Jesus.
We may have the exact courage to follow Jesus.
We may have the right faith to follow him.
Then we may walk with Jesus daily as Jesus leads us.
May the Holy Spirit helps us to understand.
May we understand and be able to truly obey Jesus.
By God’s grace, may we truly know God and hear God.
May God empower us to follow Jesus.
May God help us.
May God bless us in this.
Jesus, we love you.
But you know us.
Forgive us for not loving you enough.
Help us to love you.
Help us to understand and love you in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Help us to follow you.
We want to follow you.
We know it is the best life for us.
Help me understand and have power to follow you.
In Jesus name, we pray.